Instapundit relates an excerpt from a BBC reporter Justin Webb's "Tour Diary" concerning President Bush's visit to
The president is wonderfully un-European - refreshingly so in the view of those of us who have worked in Brussels.He's wonderfully non-politician. Last February the Washington Post's Richard Cohen did a piece, Bush's War on Nuance where this characteristic was stated plainly:
He is unsmooth. He stumbles over his sentences. He uses short, plain, sometimes almost babyish words, while the sophisticated multilingual Euro crowd prefer obfuscatory long ones.
And he gets a clear message across, like it or not. He has no need of spin.
It was interesting that on the White House bus back into town, the journalists did not need to compare notes or discuss the president's words and what they meant.
On the other hand, for Chirac and Schroeder there was a discussion that would have made an old-style Kremlinologist blush. . . .
Some people think Schroeder said one thing about Nato and some think he actually meant another. Others claim that Chirac really believes Schroeder wanted to say... etc etc.
Welcome to Europe, Mr Bush.
To satisfy the hallowed journalistic tradition that there must be two sources for almost anything, I offer you Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) and Candy Crowley of CNN. They both are on record as having George Bush say that he doesn't do nuance. "Joe, I don't do nuance," the president supposedly told the senator. As for Crowley, she heard it this way: "In Texas, we don't do nuance." If these two sources don't suffice, I offer you the 7,932 words that make up the text of the president's interview with Tim Russert. There ain't a nuance anywhere in the whole mess.And he hasn't changed. Cohen, however, wasn't as approving as the Brit.
What a difference a year - and three elections - makes.
Edited to add:
I was also reminded (again) of this old Sacramento Bee piece, French puzzle over why U.S. got so angry from May of 2003, and this quote that shall live in infamy:
"What is a little disconcerting for the French is an American president who seems to be principled," said Jean Duchesne, an English literature professor at Condorcet College in Paris. "The idea that politics should be based on principles is unimaginable because principles lead to ideology, and ideology is dangerous."The thing that Justin Webb and his fellow-travellers seem to be reacting to is President Bush's principled behavior, something they're totally unfamiliar with when it comes to politicians.
Ideology seems to be working pretty good.
But then again, success is dependent on the ideology, isn't it?
UPDATE: Sperari has an associated post, Instinct vs. Understanding vs. Meandering.