In the space of two weeks, three European governments have fallen, sending seismic shock-waves across the continent and calling into question the experiment that has consumed its elites for decades: the construction of a centralized, socialist superstate known as "Europe."
The election of Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande to the presidency of France epitomizes the sorry state of contemporary democracy. By that, I don’t mean to imply that the French people should have voted for the incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy. Neither would be capable of solving France’s intractable problems in a way acceptable to French voters, nor are the problems with democracy unique to France.
The markets appeared to collectively yawn in the wake of Hollande's election. Perhaps it's a sign that regardless of who's captain of the ship, it's still considered to be on a crash course with the iceberg.
Are the French getting their Tea Party on? That's what an outsider looking at the country's first-round presidential voting results might have been led to believe. But, as with many things French, the reality is très compliquée.
When survival is at stake, one may hear from a politician not what he believes -- but what he thinks the people deciding his fate wish to hear.
In France, an Islamic terrorist has likely hijacked the agenda for the remainder of the French presidential race. That terrorist is 23-year-old Mohammed Merah, a Franco-Algerian from Toulouse who was fatally riddled with bullets by French forces last week after a 30-hour standoff and took the television remotes of an entire nation with him.
As an act of pure evil it was difficult to match. After dragging the 8-year-old by her hair across a schoolyard, the killer put a 9 mm pistol to the girl's head and pulled the trigger.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy was elected five years ago by promising to modernize France's societal infrastructure and bring it more into line with America's: less government reliance, more freedom in life and work.
Once again, socialism has put a silver fork in itself. Standard & Poor's has downgraded France's AAA credit rating, giving the country the side-eye on its claims to have its debt under control. This means the country will now have to pay it all back at an even higher interest rate.
Obama may have been cheered by his reception in Berlin in July 2008, but he has gotten the cold shoulder from leaders of European countries old and new. Rather than hail his long opposition to military action in Iraq, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and other Europeans plunged into intervention in Libya, a bit miffed that Obama was (in the words of one of his aides) "leading from behind."
The whole world was watching, and listening. The leaders of the G20 nations gathered in Cannes, France, for another of those endless schmooze fests we now call summits, Presidents Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy were caught on tape telling us what they really think of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.