If it's in the News, it's in our Polls. Public opinion polling since 2003.


U.S. and Europe Listing in the Same Boat

A Commentary By Debra J. Saunders

Three years ago this month, then-Sen. Barack Obama told an enthusiastic throng in Berlin, "In Europe, the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in our world, rather than a force to help make it right, has become all too common."

I have to hand this to Obama: the bond between Americans and Europeans is stronger than ever. On both sides of the Atlantic, national governments are forced to cut spending, private homes are underwater and public employee pension plans are unsustainable. The United States and Europe are in the same sticky soup, but instead of blaming George W. Bush, Our Betters in Europe are sniping at each other.

On June 30, British workers engaged in a general strike to protest proposed changes -- such as raising the retirement age to 66 by 2020 -- in public-sector pensions. The protests kicked off the country's "Summer of Discontent" by shutting down schools. The tactic doesn't seem to be working. Even Labor Party leader Ed Miliband opposed the strike. Greek activists have been protesting in the street against austerity measures proposed by leaders desperately trying to win financial backing for a second Greek bailout. The French have been fighting the Germans about the terms of the Greek debt rollover.

The Germans haven't wanted to be part of the French and U.K. push that led to NATO's mission to liberate Libya.

How's that going?

On March 24, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe observed that it would take "days or weeks, certainly not months" to take down Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. More than three months, 100 days of air strikes and 2,000 bombings later, NATO ran out of shells. Germany has agreed to donate ammo to the NATO effort.

French intellectuals have railed against New York authorities' gauche and too-public arrest of disgraced former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn on sexual assault charges. Yet however the DSK case is resolved, Euro critics must acknowledge that prosecutors shared information damaging to the alleged victim.

If they truly care about injustice, they might look within the European Union. Thanks to the European Arrest Warrant, Scotland Yard's Extradition Unit arrested Andrew Symeou, then 20, at his parents' London home on Greek charges concerning a 2007 murder that were so flimsy that the prosecutor eventually argued in favor of acquittal. Symeou was exonerated -- but only after a nearly four-year fight that landed him in Greece's infamous Korydallos prison for seven months.

Now, the European Court of Human Rights can pounce into action when it comes to protecting the guilty. The court ruled last month that the U.K. cannot deport two Somalis convicted of burglary, threats to kill, robbery and drug dealing because Europe's "prohibition of torture and of inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment was absolute, irrespective of the victims' conduct."

The BBC reports that the ruling applies to 214 similar cases.

In 1987, also in Berlin, President Reagan intoned, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." Today the walls are entrenched institutions that cannot change to save themselves. Reagan's injunction, at least, was doable.


See Other Political Commentary

See Other Commentary by Debra J. Saunders

Views expressed in this column are those of the author, not those of Rasmussen Reports.  Comments about this content should be directed to the author or syndicate.

Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information.

We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.

Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll and commentaries are available for free to the general public. Subscriptions are available for $4.95 a month or 34.95 a year that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections, consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers, Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs and a full history of our data.

To learn more about our methodology, click here.