Is 'Obamamania' Waning in Europe?

One of the favorite tactics used by Der Spiegel is to interview American left-wingers in order to "prove" that the United States is every bit as bad as the German media say it is. In an article about the Iranian election titled "Extraordinary Amount of Wishful Thinking by the U.S.," Flynt Leverett, an American analyst, assured Der Spiegel that the voting irregularities in Iran "likely weren't as bad as in Florida in 2000." In another article titled "America's Torture Legacy: Obama Isn't Off to a Good Start on Human Rights," Joan McCarter of the left-wing blog Daily Kos, told German readers that a "truth commission could have real value in illuminating for the American people what the Bush administration did in our names."

Another Der Spiegel article is a quintessential example of the magazine's signature anti-American style. Titled "American Recession Food: The Fat Crisis," the article reports that millions of unemployed Americans are trying to save money by eating junk food at McDonald's. "The recession is leading to unemployment, waves of bankruptcies and the decline of entire neighborhoods -- and health and fitness problems for American citizens. Initial studies show that the crisis is impoverishing more and more people, which leads them to the most unhealthy and fatty foods. And this in an already obese and diabetic country." The article fails to mention, of course, that Europe in general, and Germany in particular, is facing its own obesity epidemic.

In Britain, the media have been parroting the same theme of America as a terminal wasteland. The center-right Daily Telegraph reports that "dozens of U.S. cities may have entire neighborhoods bulldozed as part of drastic 'shrink to survive' proposals being considered by the Obama administration to tackle economic decline." The left-wing Guardian warns that "far-right shootings raise fear of hate offensive in America." The killing of a black security guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., is "the latest example of a surge in extremist violence, as the election of Barack Obama and the economic crisis breed resentment in a fanatical, racist minority," the Guardian asserts.

In Switzerland, the St Gallen-based asks whether America will go the way of General Motors. In a commentary, the paper writes: "The triumph of U.S. ideology after the Second World War was in no small measure due to the positive associations connected to America. 'Brand USA' was attractive and appealing. But this attraction -- just like the status of Cadillac as a dream car -- is long since gone. Instead there is a general unease toward the United States, a country regarded as aggressive, financially ailing, the birthplace of a global recession and partly autistic when it comes to understanding the sensitivities of other countries and their cultures."

Underscoring the hypocrisy that underpins so much of the anti-Americanism in Europe, many newspapers have expressed resentment over Obama's unwillingness to allow his European colleagues to bask in the limelight of joint photo opportunities. Commenting on Obama's recent trip to Europe, the Brussels-based EU Observer ran a headline titled "Obama Keeps Leaders at Arm's Length on Europe Trip." It reported that Obama, much to the dismay of his French hosts, turned down a dinner invitation with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on top of the Eiffel Tower.

Der Spiegel ran an article titled "Obama and Merkel: Trans-Atlantic Frenemies," which reports that the White House denied a request by German Chancellor Angela Merkel for face time with Obama. The magazine laments that "Germany is increasingly being left out of the loop." In an editorial, the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung writes: "The radiance of German-American relations today has its limits. In the G-8, as in NATO and in Afghanistan, but also in Obama's itinerary, the waning importance of Germany is obvious." In another article, Der Spiegel quotes Sarkozy as mocking Merkel: "She can't even host the U.S. president in the capital city," he bragged, while "I can meet him in Normandy and in Paris."

In Italy, the Turin-based La Stampa grieves for the future of Europe. It argues that Europe's political class is secretly resentful for "being abandoned by America in the face of the relentless advancement of European Islamization."

Maybe the center-right Times of London says it best. In an article titled "Eventually, We Will All Hate Obama Too," the paper predicts: "So Barack Obama, en fête around the world, will one day learn that there is no magical cure for the envy of others. What makes America the indispensable power (and even more indispensable in the era of the new China), is precisely what makes anti-Americanism inevitable."