Gerard Baker of the Times – No,no, not the New York Times, but the Times of London
– weighs in on Barack Obama and the eternal question: Have we become France?
“There is a caste of left-wing Americans who wish essentially and in all honesty that their country was much more like France. They wish it had much higher levels of taxation and government intervention, that it had much higher levels of welfare, that it did not have such a “militaristic” approach to foreign policy. Above all, that its national goals were dictated, not by the dreadful halfwits who inhabit godforsaken places like Kansas and Mississippi, but by the counsels of the United Nations.
“Though Mr Obama has done a good job, as all recent serious Democrats have done, of emphasizing his belief in American virtues, his record and his programme suggest he is firmly in line with this wing of his party…
"He wants to tax the rich more to pay for [the programs he favors]. He is against companies using the opportunities of free markets to restructure their operations in the US. He is vehemently protectionist. He continues to insist, despite the growing evidence that this left-wing nostrum would be lunacy, that the US must pull its troops out of Iraq with the utmost dispatch.
“While he speaks of the need for Americans to move beyond partisanship (“We are not blue states or red states, but the United States” is a campaign meme), when you cut through the verbiage there is nothing to suggest he believes anything that is seriously at odds with the far Left of his party. If you think about it for a second, it's not really an accident that he has been endorsed by the likes of Ted Kennedy and Jesse Jackson…
“America is certainly moving left in the post-George Bush era. The long period of conservative ascendancy is clearly over, buried by a Republican Party of recent years that has preached intolerance and practiced incompetence. That a new era in American politics is beginning is not in doubt. But are Americans really ready to leap all the way across in one go to embrace a European-style Left?”
In a word – maybe.