February 26, 2005

NEW EUROPE:

At last President George W Bush found some European fans yesterday. After three days of muted receptions, Mr Bush received a far cheerier welcome behind the old Iron Curtain as enthusiastic Slovaks applauded him for visiting them on the last stop of his tour across the continent.

Thousands of Slovaks defied swirling snow and a bitter wind to wait for several hours to hear Mr Bush speak in the heart of their capital, Bratislava.

The Slovak prime minister, Mikulas Dzurinda, set the tone when he introduced Mr Bush to the crowd with an implicit comparison to the late Ronald Reagan, who devoted much of his presidency to combating and denouncing the Soviet Union. For the White House, it was a reassuring reminder that Mr Bush’s stock remains high in New Europe, as Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, famously described the more recent East European members of the EU and Nato.

(Via No Pasaran, which observes that this didn’t get much coverage in Old Europe.)

UPDATE: Reader Chris Buchholz emails: “It didn’t get much coverage here either. All day all I’ve seen on TV is how Bush wore his gloves.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Austin Bay thinks that this proves Mark Steyn wrong.

MORE: Reader Mark Hessey emails: “Hmm, I guess I read Steyn’s closing sentence wrong: ‘This week we’re toasting the end of an idea: the death of “the West”.’ I thought he meant that the idea of the death of the West was what died; that Bush was glad-handing Chirac because anything else was futile, but smiling internally in his confidence that his initiatives are going forward, almost on auto-pilot at this point.” Hmm. I never thought of it that way.