- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Stand clear, now. The British press is in full cry — sniping, griping and whining about President Bush’s state visit to London.

Much of the Bush-bashing recycled tired, rude baggage.

“This cross-eyed thief of democracy can exploit the people of Britain as bit players in his campaign to win a second term in the White House,” proclaimed Daily Mirror columnist Paul Routledge yesterday.

“Republican hawks want to let the folks back home see Bush as a world statesman,” wrote Brian Reade, another Mirror columnist, who called Mr. Bush the “Texas messiah” and “the least welcome visitor.”

The Mirror was up to some hijinks of its own this week as one reporter posed as a royal footman and filed a dispatch from Buckingham Palace on Tuesday titled, “Inside the president’s bedroom.”

The editor of the paper categorized the story as a “public service” that exposed security flaws at the palace.

Others on Fleet Street took cheap shots at the president.

“If it floats George W. Bush’s boat, who are we to carp? … The question cannot be quite stifled — what is the point of a state visit?” asked the London Daily Telegraph. “Is it really the case that the voters of Florida or California are going to be swayed by images of the President with the Queen, or sipping beer in Sedgefield?”

The London-based Morning Star, the “daily paper of the left” offered the headline: “Warmonger comes to town,” noting in an editorial, “Our message to George W. Bush is a short and sharp one. Go home and take your troops, your spies, your armies and your agents with you.”

The left-leaning Guardian, meanwhile, stated, “Here is the leader with the greatest wealth and power on earth at his command, squandering it, abusing it, misusing it with every step he takes.” calling the president’s political beliefs “obnoxious.”

Coincidentally, a Guardian poll released Tuesday found that 62 percent of Britons think the United States is “a force for good, not evil, in the world” and that two-thirds said American and British soldiers should “stay the course” in Iraq.

Mr. Bush was not the only target, however.

“George Bush must have felt as if he was playing to a half-empty theatre. His wife, Laura, in metallic sage green, stood next to Prince Philip as rigid as a woman who has just put on fake tan and doesn’t want to smudge,” the Evening Standard said yesterday, calling Mrs. Bush “frumpy.”

The Standard noted, “The Bush wagon train has rolled into town, all saddled up and gun totin’ ready and, boy, do we know it.”

The BBC also adopted a Wild West motif.

“George Bush began his state visit to Britain with an arrival ceremony which made him look like George Custer in the badlands of Dakota,” noted BBC correspondent Paul Reynolds.

And although the Times of London welcomed Mr. Bush because the United States and Britain have “a shared history and enduring values,” the Times lent a critical spin to its coverage, describing the visit as “President strolls into Fortress Britain.”

Press coverage elsewhere in Europe was rancorous.

The German paper Die Zeit called Mr. Bush “a foolish, uncultivated cowboy who is linguistically clumsy, who displays an alarmingly limited intelligence, who is a religious fanatic with dubious oil interests.”

Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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