Sunday, July 20, 2008

Europe's governments immune to Obama-fever

From Reuters:

European fans will cheer on U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama as he visits Berlin, Paris and London this week, but governments wary of his inexperience and evolving policies fear the euphoria is overdone.


But in the German Chancellery a few hundred meters away there is unease with the Illinois senator's cult-like following and skepticism about whether he can live up to the hype.

"There is a sort of Obama-mania in Germany right now, but I think a lot of people will have their illusions shattered if he does become president," an official in Chancellor Angela Merkel's office told Reuters, requesting anonymity.

Some European officials recalled how difficult trans-Atlantic relations were in the first few years of President Bill Clinton's administration because of his inexperience and the time it took to get his team into place.


A change in the White House could have the biggest impact on Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, both of whom have developed close ties to Bush in recent years.

Merkel, who has regular video-conference exchanges with Bush, and Sarkozy, who visited the U.S. president at his family home in Kennebunkport, Maine, could see their influence in Washington wane in the short-term under Obama.

The same can be said for Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has made plain his "very personal preference" for McCain. Berlusconi's centre-left challenger in a May election, Walter Veltroni, had a campaign slogan borrowed from Obama -- "Yes we can" -- and compared himself to the U.S. Democrat.

In conservative Poland, there are fears an Obama administration could row back on the Bush administration's plans to deploy a missile shield in central Europe, leaving Warsaw to pick up the pieces.

"The problem with Obama is that we still don't know very much about what he thinks on foreign policy, he is tabula rasa," said Rafal Trzaskowski, an analyst at the Natolin European Centre, a Warsaw think thank.

Wow. Even socialist Euro-weenies are wary of this guy. God help us if the sheeple actually elect this empty suit in November...

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