President Bush's current trip to Europe has been described as a "farewell tour" in quite a few newspapers, which I find a bit surprising. I thought there would be plenty of reasons and opportunities for George W. Bush to visit Europe in the remaining seven months of his presidency.
Does that sound as if I already miss President Bush? Charles Hawley writes in Spiegel International that the German media will miss the "climate killer":
Germany never much liked George W. Bush. But he was able to unite Germans. Hating the US president was about the only thing the country could agree on in recent years.
Related Atlantic Review post, which encouraged a debate with 53 comments: "Europeans Mourn End of Bush's Presidency"
William Drozdiak, president of the American Council on Germany, opines in the IHT that Europeans ignore Bush and are "anticipating a new age of enlightenment in trans-Atlantic relations":
As President George W. Bush embarks this week on a farewell tour of Europe, he should not be surprised by the lack of interest in his trip. Like most Americans, Europeans are looking past Bush.
Whether Barack Obama or John McCain moves into the Oval Office, Europe is anticipating a new age of enlightenment in trans-Atlantic relations as NATO nears its 60th birthday. While there are ample reasons not to let expectations get too high, both candidates espouse policies that could greatly enhance cooperation among leading Western democracies.
The phrase "a new age of enligthenment" is a bit too strong, but otherwise I agree with Drozdiak. Once Obama or McCain is inaugurated and asks for more troops for Afghanistan, we will start to miss George W Bush, who was the "perfect excuse" for the lack of burden sharing.
Kurt Kister wrote in the respected German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung that the presidential elections (esp. an Obama victory) would mark a new beginning for Americans, but that would not be the case in Europe and Asia: "The memory about Bush will overshadow the image of the US throughout many years in the future". In reference to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung's headline, the Atlantic Community asks: "How Long is Bush's Shadow?" Pretty long, I would say.