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Its inbreeding puts the Daleys, Bushes, and Cuomos to shame.
The casualty list from Europe’s apparently-endless financial crisis continues to grow. If you’re young, a taxpayer, or a German in today’s EU, you have good reason to believe you’ve been dealt a very bad hand.
There is, however, one impending casualty whose demise is fully merited. And that’s the credibility of Europe’s political class.
Having assured Europeans for the past 50 years that they know what they are doing, Europe’s politicians are now helplessly presiding over the continent’s worst economic maelstrom since the Depression: a calamity to which their policies have considerably contributed.
And it is a class of European politicians to which I’m referring — a group that’s even developed distinctly familial characteristics.
One European politician who’s been in the spot-light since 2009, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, is the son and grandson of former Greek prime ministers Andreas Papandreou and George Papandreou Sr. The word “dynasty” comes to mind.
Likewise, a front-runner for the Socialist party’s nomination for French President in the 2012 elections, Martine Aubry, is the daughter of Jacques Delors. Aside from being the eighth European Commission president, Delors served as economics minister under France’s late President, François Mitterrand.
Speaking of the Mitterrands, François’s nephew, Frédéric Mitterrand, is presently President Nicolas Sarkozy’s culture minister. The latter’s son, Jean Sarkozy, was elected as a city councilor at the tender age of 22. France’s hard-right National Front illustrated just how much it had become a regular part of France’s political landscape when its leadership passed from Jean-Marie Le Pen to his daughter Marine Le Pen (whose first two husbands, incidentally, were party officials) in January this year.
Ireland is a case-study in its own right. Literally dozens of family members — sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, grandsons, granddaughters, nephews, nieces, cousins, wives, husbands, in-laws — have followed each other into the legislature (sometimes into the same legislative seat) since Irish independence in 1922.
In short, family ties permeate Europe’s political landscape in ways that dwarf the Daleys of Chicago, the Bushes of Texas, and the Cuomos of New York.
Further compounding matters in Europe, however, is a professionalization of politics that makes the Cuomos look positively amateurish. Most European political parties with legislative representation have relatively small memberships. Nevertheless, they constitute the basis of a full-time career for many party members.
A good example is Finland’s president Tarja Halonen. Her political career began at university when she served as Secretary of the National Union of Students between 1969 and 1970. The following year, Halonen joined the Social Democratic Party (which today has just 50,000 members) and worked as a lawyer for the Social Democrat-affiliated trade union movement. In 1974, she became the prime minister’s parliamentary secretary. Two years later, Halonen was elected to the Helsinki city council. In 1979, she was elected to parliament, and served there for 21 years. Halonen went on to hold several ministerial posts until elected President in 2000.
In short, since her time in university, Halonen has done nothing career-wise except politically-related activity or holding government office. Her story, however, is quite typical.
Take today’s President of the European Council, Belgium’s Herman Van Rompuy. His political career began when he served as chairman of his Christian Democrat party’s youth wing at the age of 26. Apart from a three year stint in the early 1970s working at Belgium’s central bank and a short time in the 1980s as an academic, Rompuy has continuously held political offices before assuming his current position.
There are exceptions to this pattern (e.g., Germany’s Angela Merkel). But you have to search long and hard to find them. That alone makes a mockery of the usual European happy-talk about “openness” and “diversity.”
Which brings me to my last point: the diversity — or rather the lack thereof — when it comes to ideas among Europe’s political classes.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?