Unrequited love is a sad and mournful thing, as any teenager could tell you. Barack Obama, too. His European friends, who swooned with such ardor four years ago, are cooling off.
Mr. Obama still nourishes his lifelong crush on the Europeans, regarding them as the source of the type of government compassion and bureaucratic kindness he yearns to transplant to these shores. He even campaigned in Europe in the summer of 2008, before someone reminded him that Europeans are not allowed to vote in American elections (with or without proper identification).
The Europeans, and Angela Merkel’s Germans in particular, assembled by the hundreds of thousands at the base of the Victory Column in Berlin’s Tiergarten Park to listen to the messiah speechify. He gave them a wowser, promising to make America more like Europe. Not only that, he assured them that he was not, repeat not, George W. Bush.
That was all our European cousins wanted to hear. Like many Americans in that faraway time, they expected the messiah to stretch out his arms and all unhappiness would give way to peace and joy unrestrained, all kittens would be cute and puppies would arrive housebroken, the earth would cool, men would smite their arms into ploughshares, and lambs would lie down with lions without becoming supper.
Now a new global survey who could ask for anything more learned? reveals that approval of Mr. Obama’s policies has declined significantly, in some cases dramatically. In nearly every country polled, says the Pew Research Center, enthusiasm ebbed and is not likely to flow again. Calculated by median, support for Mr. Obama has declined from 78 percent in 2008 to 63 percent today. Muslims, who appeared to think the president would give Michelle and the girls a Koran for Christmas and put them in chadors before the year was out, have gone from hot to warm to cool to frigid. Median Muslim support has declined to merely 15 percent.
But if Mr. Obama could move the election to Europe, he should and no doubt would. Despite the cooling affection Europeans feel for him, nearly all of them would vote to re-elect him. They’re just disappointed, that’s all. He has turned out to be, in their view, more interested in protecting American interests than in pandering to their own. Such is the inevitable with all American presidents.
The opinions of the Europeans are inconsequential and irrelevant to reality, of course, and of real interest only to fans of the United Nations, the world soccer cartel and other international organizations that exist mostly to tut-tut whatever Americans do. Europeans, and Germans in particular, the Pew study finds, are crushed that Mr. Obama has acted “unilaterally” in certain crisis situations; they prefer that he act only in league with them.
Nobody is likely to pay any attention to any of this anywhere but in the White House, where “world opinion,” as shapeless and as crunchy as a bowl of lime Jell-O, is indeed taken seriously. It’s more bad news of a piece with the miserable spring and early summer. Mr. Obama’s campaign mavens have been so undone that they’re scavenging everywhere for pockets of voters to pander to, even a target as unlikely as the uncounted legion of potheads. Maybe marijuana referenda in several swing states will attract them to the November polls.
“Getting more young people to vote has long been a Democratic fantasy,” reports Atlantic magazine, “since they tend to vote so heavily Democratic.” But they rarely arrive to vote. “The problem is,” says one pro-pot canvasser, “our troops are not exactly itching to get up for the battle. It’s like, ‘hey, that’s great, dude, pass that joint, because tomorrow we get organized.’” Potheads were counted on two years ago to vote for a California referendum to legalize marijuana for everyone. The referendum failed.
But now there’s another “marijuana initiative,” to employ a contradiction in terms, in the state of Washington, and there might be others in Nebraska and Massachusetts if the potheads can get their stuff together. In Ohio, perhaps the most crucial swing state, supporters of two similar initiatives, one to allow “medical marijuana” and the second to establish a bureaucracy to regulate it, have until July 4 to collect the 400,000 voter signatures to get it on the ballot.
There’s considerable sentiment for approving medical marijuana in several states, but converting sentiment to votes is not always easy. Mr. Obama might be better advised to count on a big vote in Luxembourg or San Marino.
• Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.