Italian Legislators Ask Nader to Withdraw

A devastating debate with Howard Dean live on TV hasn’t been enough; neither have been appeals from countless Americans, from the prominent to the obscure. But maybe a collective entreaty from some guys (mostly guys; actually, they’re uomini) with that notable “continental style” will do the trick and convince Ralph Nader to withdraw from the American presidential race. The French on-line newsmagazine Le Nouvel Observateur is reporting (Anti-Bush Action From Italian Deputies) that 116 members of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, “in a rare gesture,” sent a collective letter last Saturday (24 July) to presidential candidate Ralph Nader urging him to bow out.

To be sure, in that letter they saluted him as “one of the most noble figures of the great American democracy.” But then they added, “Despite your best intentions, this time again, as in 2000, your candidacy could cost John Kerry, whom we regard as a great hope, a defeat at the presidential election. Today we are asking you not to give George W. Bush a second chance, which could be very prejudicial for your country and for the entire international community. America deserves much better.”

Will that do it? Probably not; it would really only work if this were Ralph Nadriglione running, and the letter was from his mama in the old country, telling him basta with all that nonsense!

(I have to admit that I have not as yet been able to confirm this report by finding something similar in the Italian press. But maybe that is because this is a relatively recent event, of only last Saturday. In its article Le Nouvel Observateur claims that the letter was issued by the press service of the Italian parliament, but I don’t quite have a sufficient combination of Italian, skill, time, and desire to go to try to find that on-line.)


People – whether this hurts the Kerry campaign or not – let’s let the chips fall where they may: Citizens together with their governments over here on the European continent overwhelmingly want to see someone else occupying the White House come January 20, 2005. True, true, they don’t vote and it’s up to American voters – only – to choose their president. But maybe you’ve noticed over the past four years – take Iraq, for example, particularly what’s happened there after the successful invasion – that this is still a world where it makes a heck of a lot of sense to be able to work together with other countries as partners to get what you want done, no matter if you happen to be “the world’s remaining superpower.”

Case in point: Why do you think President Bush got so little of what he wanted at the end-of-June NATO summit in Istanbul? What he wanted was NATO troops in Iraq, or at least NATO training-personnel in-country in Iraq, and not only did he not get that – despite moving up the handover-of-sovereignty a few days early, in part so that a genuine Iraqi foreign minister could show up at Istanbul to help him beg – but he also got some nasty language from President Chirac over what he presumed to tell the EU to do about admitting Turkey as a member (which I wrote about in this space, giving my full approval). Put simply, the heads-of-government he met at that summit weren’t about to give him anything more than some sort of bare minimum, in the hopes that in so doing they would not have to see his face at any more annual NATO summits after that one. I quote the Economist’s analysis at the time (subscription required): “. . . in private, much of Europe’s political class detests Mr Bush and what he stands for, which they think is throwing the superpower’s weight around with no regard either for the rules of law, international treaties or the views of allies. Having noticed that Mr Bush is on the ropes at home . . . they are longing for him to lose November’s presidential election.”

This is the sort of representative America wants at such highest-level summit meetings? I quote again some Italian wisdom: “America deserves much better.” And keep your eye peeled for my upcoming post (the next one? Update: Yes!) with today’s great cover from the French daily LibĂ©ration: a photo of Kerry with the huge headline “100 Days to Beat Bush.”

As for myself, I personally would like to be able to stop having to apologize for Bush to people I meet over here, and to apologize for the fact that I happen to be a Texas citizen as well. Frankly, I’d like to be able to take out my fancy cowboy boots and starting wearing them around again! But OK, that’s just me. Never mind. A second Bush term will bring the US and the world plenty more heartburn than just a little social awkwardness.

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