The left-of-center MSM incessantly proclaimed that Bush was crawling back to Europe, asking for forgiveness, seeking to mend fences he had torn down, etc. What emerged today was something quite different:
This was no apology. Here was an American President in command, taking advantage of a unique historical moment, declaring his intentions strongly, and graciously inviting our traditional allies to forget past differences and to join him in a world-changing initiative.
As the WaPo, put it [even as they repeated the fence mending meme]:
[E]ven as the president sought a closer working relationship with Europe, there was little indication of any U.S. movement on the policies that soured relations between the longtime allies.
European reaction was mixed, but generally positive.
In a briefing with reporters, two senior administration officials described Europe as moving closer to the Bush administration's positions on a variety of issues, including Iraq and the use of NATO as a tool for spreading democracy. In recent weeks, several European nations have announced plans to help train Iraqi police and assist the Iraqi military.
"I would say that NATO is more unified today on Iraq, Afghanistan and other major issues in the alliance than at any time in the last three years," a senior administration official said on condition of anonymity. "There is a much better tone."
But then there's this:
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, in an interview published Monday in the International Herald Tribune, said he remained pessimistic about Iraq's future and brushed aside any suggestion that the U.S. decision to invade the country had been vindicated by a strong voter turnout in recent elections there.
"It is not vindication," Solana said. "Think about it. What kind of regime will emerge? It is too early to say."
Solana's point is legitimate: much can go wrong in Iraq and elsewhere, but the general trend is clear. In Europe as in the Middle East the Bush administration is making steady progress.