Stanage ends with quoting a poll: "Seventy-seven per cent of EU officials and 74 per cent of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) answered 'yes' when asked whether it was desirable that the U.S. exert strong leadership in world affairs. But the survey indicated that only 36 per cent of the EU public agreed."
The ascensions of Ms. Merkel and, particularly, Mr. Sarkozy have been heralded by American conservatives, who see their victories as evidence that anti-Americanism is neither as widespread nor as trenchant among Europeans as some have suggested. After all, they argue, didn't Mr. Sarkozy's detractors label him 'Sarko the American', and did he not win over French voters regardless?
Mr. Sarkozy's victory, Fred Thompson said in an ABC radio commentary, "has been a serious blow to those who claim that America has earned the undying hatred of Europeans. A French president who openly admires America is an embarrassment to those who view us as the country bumpkin cousins of the sophisticated Europeans." The New York Sun put things even more colorfully in an editorial: "How are all those Democratic Party, pinky-in-the-air U.N. admirers who wailed about Mr. Bush's alienating of Europe going to explain this turn of events?" it gloated.It is not quite as simple as that. For a start, it takes a robust sense of self-importance to assume that national elections on the other side of the Atlantic are nothing more than referenda on relations with America. In fact, the French and German elections were largely decided by domestic issues. In both cases, a moribund economy and a general sense of dissatisfaction with the status quo fuelled the victories of candidates whose pro-free market reform credentials were more important than their pro-Americanism.
"Rumors of a return to trans-Atlantic harmony are premature for the moment," writes Niall Stanage in The New York Observer. He criticizes the wishful thinking by some arrogant US commentators. Instead of the term "arrogance," Stanage uses the euphemism "a robust sense of self-importance," which instantly became one of my favorite phrases: