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Jewish World Review Dec. 19, 2000/ 22 Kislev, 5761

Wesley Pruden

Wes Pruden
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Consumer Reports

The reflexive sneer
at George W. Bush -- GEORGE W. BUSH is well on his way to disarming his critics in Washington.

Dick Gephardt and Tom Daschle finally conceded yesterday that he's a legitimate president, although not entirely without equivocation. Others can measure how grudging their concessions were. But at least they said the words.

The president-elect may have harder work ahead of him in Europe, where the French, as usual, are stirring up toil and trouble.

The French, whose contribution to modern warfare is the art of the surrender, are terminally envious of the United States (and the special relationship between the United States and Britain), and they're determined to join in the creation of a European army to rival NATO. The British or at least Tony Blair seem determined to tag along in a French orbit.

But the British prime minister has had to insist, in the wake of that not very nice European summit in Nice where the French and Germans pushed their scheme of a European army, that NATO would continue to be "the linchpin" of European security. Some linchpin. The United States would continue to do the heavy lifting, the Germans would get fancy uniforms and brass bands and the French would get to drink the champagne. NATO would shrivel.

Mr. Blair, gambling that the dying Clinton administration would keep quiet about it, tried to soothe concerns raised by the Tories that American skepticism of a European army could lead to American withdrawal from Europe. Such a prospect frightens a lot of Britons, who don't particularly relish the idea of an army inevitably led by Germans with French lieutenants. The British have been there and done that. Mr. Blair and his men, eager to get on with dismantling Britain but nervous about being found out, called their critics "fundamentally dishonest," insisting that the Americans wouldn't mind.

Lame duck or not, William Cohen, the departing secretary of defense, pointedly refused to endorse the deal, and warned that a European army could relegate NATO to "a relic." Then Tony Blair, taking seriously the media mush in London that George W. couldn't figure out what was going on and wouldn't care if he could, got a rude shock Sunday night when John Bolton, expected in London to be a top deputy to Colin Powell, warned that the rising Bush administration is likely to regard the European army scheme as "a dagger pointed at the heart of NATO."

If that happens, Mr. Bolton said, the United States would be forced to withhold intelligence information from the British. "We would have to pose the stark question: 'Are you with us, or with them?' "

This is particularly shattering to Tony Blair and the New Europeans, who have swallowed whole the idea that George W. Bush is the merry prankster who doesn't know the difference between a Grecian formula and a Turkish delight. They've been getting a steady diet of the adventures of George W. as a playboy with a head full of cotton, hay and rang, and don't know any better than to believe what they read in the Guardian or hear on the BBC.

"Lightweight Mr. Bush," the Guardian (the enabler of England's codependent left) intoned solemnly, "gabbling nervously amid the wrangling, has looked ever more like a puny front man for the vested interests of the GOP machine, big business, big defense and big oil. He will need quality help to meet challenges that would sorely tax a more talented politician." The quality help, Dick Cheney and Colin Powell, are dismissed as either sick or vacillating.

Mr. Blair and his colleagues are suckers for the language beloved of the therapeutic left. They actually believe that George W. will be so preoccupied with an America in need of "healing" that he won't have time to pay attention to what's going on in the rest of the world.

The only America the Europeans understand is that little sliver of blue on the electoral map that hugs the Atlantic coast, and they see George W. lounging against the fence in his cowboy boots and figure that he has to be a reckless wastrel with nothing on his mind but breaking up a saloon.

They imagine red blood to be a poisonous elixir and trust only neurotics like themselves. The reflexive European sneer at George W.'s triumph is similar to the sneer that greeted the election of the man whose grit and gumption two decades ago foreshadowed the fall of communism and the destruction of the evil empire.

They'll get over it. But until they do, the ambition of the Germans and the tantrums of the French can make mischief. This may be what occurred to Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt, who dropped their not-so-subtle allusions to an "illegitimate" presidency. Not a minute too soon. If we expect the rest of the world to act like grown-ups, we have to act like grown-ups ourselves.

JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.


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12/12/00: It's time to raise high Florida's standards
12/08/00: A President Bush, and about time, too
12/05/00: Here come the judge --- and he's got a hook
11/28/00: Cry no tears for Al, lawyers are the losers
11/21/00: The useful loathing of America's sons
11/17/00: When this is all over, we spray for lawyers
11/14/00: Something murky in the twilight zone

11/10/00: Something sinister in Palm Beach

11/07/00: Low days in the life of the ruptured duck

11/06/00: A little race baiting in the final hours

11/01/00: Creator gets a hard time on the hustings

10/27/00: The sorcerer rides to rescue his apprentice

10/25/00: The founding father with a story to tell

10/23/00: A lonely passion for religious rights

10/16/00: Spending blood on the folly of fools

10/11/00: A big night for the embellisher-in-chief

10/06/00: AlGore's black problem

10/04/00: In headlong pursuit of the bigot vote

10/02/00: A modest proposal for Rick Lazio

09/27/00: When folks at home give up on a scamp

09/25/00: Gore plot exposed! The secret minutes

09/18/00: Playing politics with the blood supply

09/14/00: Al sets out to find his 'tolerance level'

09/12/00: When it's time for a thumb in the eye

09/07/00: Making a daughter a campaign asset

09/04/00: A footnote to the lie: How he beats the rap

08/30/00: Unbearable lightness of a cyberjournal

08/21/00: Clinton chickens on AlGore's roost

08/16/00: The long goodbye to California's cash

08/09/00: Innocence by proxy is a risky scheme

08/07/00: After insulin shock, an authentic rouser

08/02/00: When it gets hard not to get a little giddy

07/31/00: George W.'s legions of summer soldiers

07/26/00: He's set a surprise --- or a trap for himself

07/24/00: How do you serve a turkey in August?

07/19/00: Would Hillary sling a lie about a slur?

07/17/00: Process, not peace, at a Velveeta summit

07/12/00: The Texas two-step, a nudge and a wink

07/10/00: The Great Mentioner and his busy season

07/05/00: No Mexican standoff in these results

07/03/00: Denting a few egos in the U.S. Senate

06/28/00: Bureaucracy amok! Punctuation in peril!

06/26/00: The water torture of American resolve

06/21/00: The happy hangman is a busy hangman

06/19/00: Dick Gephardt finds a Dixie dreamboat

06/14/00: Taking a byte out of innovation

06/12/00: 'Go away, little boy, you're bothering us'

06/07/00: When a little envy is painful to watch

06/05/00: Fire and thunder, bubble and squeak

05/31/00: South of the border, politics is pepper

05/26/00: Running out of luck with home folks

05/24/00: The heart says no, but the head says yes

05/22/00: A fine opportunity to set an example

05/17/00: The Sunday school for Republicans

05/15/00: Hillary's surrogate for telling tall tales

05/10/00: Listening to the voice of an authentic man

05/08/00: First a lot of bluster, then the retreat

05/02/00: Good news for Rudy, bad news for Hillary

04/28/00: The long goodbye to Elian's boyhood

04/25/00: Spooked by Castro, Bubba blinks

04/14/00: One flag down and two memorials to go

04/11/00: Consistency finds a jewel in Janet Reno

04/07/00: Here's the good word (and it's in English)

04/04/00: When bureaucrats mock the courts

03/28/00: How Hollywood sets the virtual table

03/24/00: Dissing a president can ruin a whole day

03/20/00: When shame begets the painful insult

03/14/00: The risky business of making an apology

03/10/00: The pouters bugging a weary John McCain

03/07/00: When all good things (sob) come to an end

© 2000 Wes Pruden