Jonah Goldberg

If Schadenfreude is taking pleasure in the misfortune of others, then I've got a case of Eurofreude - or Francofreude, or maybe something else. All I know is this: The Europeans who annoy me are moping like they found a fingernail in their brie, and I'm feeling mighty freude. Or schaden. Or whatever.

The decision by French voters to reject the proposed European Union Constitution by 55 percent to 45 percent was a knockout blow all by itself. But when the Dutch voted down the constitution by nearly a 2-1 margin, it was as if the voice in the wind blowing off those windmills was shouting in Dutch ears, "Kick 'em again!"

Now it looks like the British won't even hold a referendum on the thing, which means in all likelihood that this version of the EU project is doomed. (Doomed, I tell you! Bwahahaha!)

That is simply great news. In recent years the entire EU project - at least in Western Europe - has taken on an anti-American flavor. Gerhard Schroeder and Jacques Chirac - the lame duck and electorally doomed leaders of Germany and France, respectively - have kept their political engines running on the fumes of anti-Americanism in recent years. The EU project has been sold as a means of counterbalancing the American "hyperpower," as the French call it. If a project with that kind of billing stumbles - and stumbles badly - and if anti-American nags like Schroeder and Chirac take it in the pants in the process, there can be no more appropriate response from the intelligent American than to dance a jig, do a shot, and wave the giant foam "We're #1" finger in the air.

But American political leaders should do that behind closed doors. Public gloating wouldn't be in our interests.

Indeed, once we get that out of our system, there's a great deal we should be cautious about. The EU Constitution didn't fail because of widespread pro-American sentiment. It failed because French and Dutch voters saw their national - and personal - interests at odds with the constitution. The last thing we should do is distract European voters' attention away from the economy, immigration and the like by making them angry at us. Gloating would only invite precisely the sort of anti-American pique Chirac and Schroeder have exploited since before the Iraq war.

One of the fascinating factors in the French referendum was that anti-Americanism of one kind or another motivated both yes and no voters. The yes voters were interested in, among other things, creating the sort of European superstate the French have envisioned for decades. The no voters were concerned that the EU Constitution would usher in American-style "ultraliberalism" (one thing the Europeans do have going for them is they still use the word "liberal" correctly).


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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