Europe’s crush on Obama is so over.
The press made much of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit to the United States, describing it as fence-mending, and saying that Obama finally granted the French president the special gesture he craved: a meal for the French first couple in Obama’s family dining room. Sarkozy, the most pro-American French president in a long time, had felt miffed because the Obamas had chosen to eat at a left bank restaurant instead of in the Elysee Palace.
The hurt feelings go deeper than the perceived sins of Blair. Obama has been criticized for returning the borrowed bust of Churchill that Bush had displayed in the Oval Office. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was criticized for reiterating what has been American policy since 1948: that the United States hopes Britain and Argentina can settle their Falkland differences themselves. Ronald Reagan helped Britain in its recapture of the Falklands, but that seemed less important than the fact than some in Reagan’s cabinet had unduly worried about Latin American relations.
To an American this all seems a bit silly. For the first time in generations there is no crisis in Europe requiring America’s attention, no issue that deeply divides. Europe has troops fighting bamaeside Americans in Afghanistan, albeit not as many as America would like. Historical and cultural ties remain strong.
But, as British author and journalist William Shawcross points out, Britons feel Obama does not sufficiently appreciate their contribution in Afghanistan. “We’ve lost a lot of people.’’ The Poles and Czechs, too, feel aggrieved that Obama withdrew a promised missile shield as a gesture to please Russia. “Obama seems kinder to his enemies than his friends,’’ Shawcross said.
He’s got a point.
How do you say “I concur” in French?
Breitbart has the story and yesterday’s WSJ editorial lays the foundation for Sarkozy’s sentiment:
President Sarkozy in particular pushed hard. He had been “frustrated” for months about Mr. Obama’s reluctance to confront Iran, a senior French government official told us, and saw an opportunity to change momentum. But the Administration told the French that it didn’t want to “spoil the image of success” for Mr. Obama’s debut at the U.N. and his homily calling for a world without nuclear weapons, according to the Paris daily Le Monde. So the Iran bombshell was pushed back a day to Pittsburgh, where the G-20 were meeting to discuss economic policy.
Le Monde’s diplomatic correspondent, Natalie Nougayrède, reports that a draft of Mr. Sarkozy’s speech to the Security Council Thursday included a section on Iran’s latest deception. Forced to scrap that bit, the French President let his frustration show with undiplomatic gusto in his formal remarks, laying into what he called the “dream” of disarmament. The address takes on added meaning now that we know the backroom discussions.
“We are right to talk about the future,” Mr. Sarkozy said, referring to the U.S. resolution on strengthening arms control treaties. “But the present comes before the future, and the present includes two major nuclear crises,” i.e., Iran and North Korea. “We live in the real world, not in a virtual one.” No prize for guessing into which world the Frenchman puts Mr. Obama.
The Boston Herald’s resident dingbat, Margery Eagan, sinks to a new low with her Sunday column. The supposed feminist took a few hours off from bashing Sarah Palin to spend some quality time with a Muslim convert who extols the virtues of the burqa.
Everything else is hidden by a cloth barricade, her Muslim burqa. She seems entombed, yet I feel strangely exposed, as if she has the unfair advantage until we go inside the Islamic Center of New England, in Quincy. Then there are three women together in a room, and she removes her veil.
I still can’t see her hair or body. But now we are face to face. I feel much better.
“This is my choice to cover,” she says. “I am not oppressed. My husband doesn’t oppress me. No one stands over me with a gun. There is nothing in my culture that says I should cover. I do it for religious reasons,” says Bilal, 43, a wife and mother and a Muslim convert at age 25. She says most of the Muslim women she knows don’t cover their faces. That is their choice. But the wives of the prophet Muhammad did, Bilal says, and to her, “covering is more pleasing to God.”
I wonder if she happened to mention to Eagan that one of Muhammad’s wives was nine years old (at best) when she got so lucky?
PARIS – France wants to study the small but growing trend of women wearing burqas, with an eye to possibly banning the head-to-toe Islamic garment from being worn in public.
Government spokesman Luc Chatel told France-2 TV that the government would seek to set up a parliamentary commission that could propose legislation aimed at barring Muslim women from wearing the burqa and other fully covering gowns outside the home.
“If we find that use of the burqa was very clearly imposed (on women) . . . we would draw the appropriate conclusions,” Chatel said. Asked whether that could mean legislation banning the burqa in France, he responded, “Why not?”
What woman in her right mind would wear a burqa by her own volition?
KFCs may burn for this.