September 13, 2008
What Europeans are Saying about Sarah PalinBy Soeren Kern
Europeans have greeted the news of Sarah Palin's nomination for Vice President of the United States with a predictable mixture of anger, frustration, resentment and resignation. After more than a year of uncritically praising Barack Obama as a supernatural figure destined by fate to solve all of the world's problems, European elites are suddenly coming to terms with the unwelcome possibility that the junior senator from Illinois might just be another human being after all.
European commentary on Sarah Palin has ranged from ridicule, to ridicule, to more ridicule, to reluctant acknowledgment that Barack Obama may have met his match. In any case, many European elites are sensing that the Democratic presidential candidate, by failing to pick US Senator Hillary Clinton as his running mate, may have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
A common theme running through much of European commentary is that Palin lacks qualifications; it is a critique European elites could, but will not, apply to Obama, presumably because he is a Democrat, and thus ideologically acceptable to Europe's enlightened class. Many Europeans lament that Palin is (according to Europeans) pushing the US presidential election into a battle of values rather than of policies, as if there is any real substance to Obama.
But if there is one single aspect to Sarah Palin that threatens the smug certitude of Europe's secular gatekeepers, it is her Christian faith. It therefore comes as no big surprise that Europe's media elites have directed the bulk of their fury at American evangelical Christian voters. As if European secularism is not also a religion.
What follows is a brief survey of what some of Europe's leading newspapers are saying about Sarah Palin.
Ireland's most prestigious newspaper, the Irish Times, runs a headline that says: "Just a heartbeat away from the biggest half-baked Alaskan nightmare." Another article titled "Palin the latest torch bearer for anti-science" asks:
And just in case the paper's editors were not being absolutely clear about their choice for US president, yet another article proclaims: "Obama embodies the future King dreamt about."
Britain's leftwing Guardian newspaper tries to figure out "How to solve the Sarah Palin problem." Another story titled "Sarah Palin's war against information" asserts that "The McCain team knows that if the media do their job and give Palin the same scrutiny that any candidate for high office must endure, she will collapse." Still another story warns that "Obama faces lurking forces of darkness."
The London-based Financial Times admits that "Palin erodes Obama's monopoly on change." Elsewhere, the paper warns that "Democrats dismiss Palin at their peril."
According to France's center-right Le Figaro, Palin will "trigger the eruption of moral intolerance in the campaign." This is actually rather funny, because French elites are notoriously tolerant with everyone, except for those who do not agree with them.
In keeping with the policies versus values theme, the Paris-based leftwing Le Monde says "The choice of Ms Palin has turned the centrist John McCain into the ‘heir to Bush'." And the weekly newsmagazine Le Point calls Palin "the fanatic of the American heartland." It describes her speech to the Republican Convention as a "declaration of war [on the] Democrats as well as on the media and elites who dare to raise doubts about her ability to serve as vice-president of the United States."
Germany's leftwing Der Spiegel takes special delight in mocking Palin's religious beliefs:
The Berlin-based left-leaning Die Tageszeitung says:
The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung runs an article about "Superwoman Palin" titled "Supermama" which argues that:
The Financial Times Deutschland greets the news of Palin's ascent with unabashed hostility:
The Munich-based, left-leaning Süddeutsche Zeitung assures its readers that:
Meanwhile, Germany's center-right Die Welt, considered by many to be one of the country's better daily newspapers, offers a trite 15-question online Sarah Palin Quiz. Question 1: "Do you know Sarah Palin's current job?" Question 2: "Do you know the name of Palin's underage daughter, the one who is pregnant?" Question 3: "What revelations have become public about Sarah Palin?" Answer A: "She likes to wear latex and leather"; Answer B: "As a child, she once stole a lollypop"; Answer C: "Her husband was arrested for drunk driving"; Answer D: "She first wanted to be a Democrat."
Spain's leftwing El País newspaper reports that Sarah Palin is
Spain's conservative ABC newspaper runs an opinion essay titled "Obama Who Art in Heaven" which says that Sarah Palin
Palin represents and America that is "wild, fundamentalist and a practitioner of lynching" while Obama represents an America that is "archangelic and cosmopolitan" because, for millions of Europeans, Obama "represents the antipode of the death penalty and the free access to guns." There is a "vast divide between the intellectual sophistication of ‘The New York Review of Books' and the mass consumption in the commercial emporium of Wal-Mart. Those divides are nothing less than the reality of the United States: the Harvard of Obama the angry and prosperous Alaska of Sarah Palin."
ABC then pauses for an odd moment of reflection:
Thanks, ABC, for the reminder.
The Barcelona-based La Vanguardia writes that
Soeren Kern is Senior Fellow for Transatlantic Relations at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group.