Europe Is Kerry Country!
Many Accuse Bush Of Arrogance
Sep 2, 2004 8:27 am US/Pacific
VIENNA, Austria (AP) Europe is Kerry country, and folks like Heike Warmuth reckon they have a chance to spoil President Bush's bid for a second term.
Even as Republicans fete the American leader at their national convention in New York, people across Europe -- where Bush is often derided as reckless and ignorant -- are rallying to the cause of lifting Democratic contender John Kerry to victory.
"The choice of a U.S. president is not something that affects America alone," said Warmuth, a founder of "Europeans against Bush," an Austrian Web-based initiative designed to swing undecided Americans toward Kerry.
"American politics affect the whole world, whether we're talking war or peace or the international economy," said Warmuth, a member of Austria's Green Party.
Not all Europeans are as active in trying to unseat Bush as Warmuth, who spent thousands of dollars of her own money earlier this summer in New York City as a Kerry campaign volunteer.
But her anti-Bush inclination reflects the overwhelming sentiment throughout Western Europe, a region where politicians are often admired for eloquence, where there is deep anger at what is seen as American arrogance in Iraq and on other issues, and where contempt of Bush's perceived cowboy persona and mispronunciations runs strong.
"In no way would I vote for Bush," said Christa Eden, a secretary in Frankfurt, Germany. "He thinks that everything he does is right and tries to push it on the rest of the world."
Among the established democracies of Western Europe, America's foreign policy and pop culture pre-eminence worldwide had left many citizens resentful on a deeper level -- even before the U.S. invasion of Iraq turned public sentiment overwhelmingly against Bush.
Erica Gubinella, a sales assistant in central Rome, calls Bush "a disgusting warmonger. Banker Massimo Spizzichi says that with Bush, "American politics has reached its lowest level."
In France, polls have consistently shown that if the French had a say in the election's outcome, Kerry -- appreciated, at the very least, for speaking French -- would reap about 80 percent of their vote. A poll commissioned by the German magazine Stern and published Wednesday had 81 percent of 1,001 German respondents for Kerry and only 8 percent for Bush. The margin of error was plus or minus three percentage points.
The continent's former communist countries -- where the Republican administration of Ronald Reagan is well remembered for winning the Cold War -- are less critical. After decades of Soviet domination, there is still an overflow of goodwill toward the United States, which for many in Eastern Europe evokes values like freedom, democracy, and unlimited opportunity.
That can translate into support for Bush.
"I would be for Bush because he does what he says ... and has no oscillations in his politics," freelance journalist Lutfi Dervishi said in Tirana, Albania.
There are a few voices in Western Europe that have challenged Bush's bad image. Britain's left-leaning Guardian newspaper paused from its usual criticism of the U.S. administration this week and carried a commentary questioning the wisdom of Bush-bashing.
If "Bush is dumb, dangerous and the rest of it, how is it that millions of intelligent and perfectly decent people in the U.S. see it so differently?" the commentary wondered.
Many Europeans are more likely to simply poke fun at Bush -- or darkly question his motives.
In a joke on the German Lachmeister -- or "Laugh Master" -- Web site, the U.S. president expounds thus on his plans for Iraq: "We'll divide it into three zones: regular, premium and diesel."