By John F. Harris and Lori Montgomery
Wednesday, September 7, 2005
Since winning a second term, President Bush has made four trips to Europe, where his first-term policies on Iraq and other issues made him the most unpopular U.S. president in recent decades. Now comes new evidence at what all this fence-mending has won him with average Europeans: nothing.
A new poll taken in 10 European countries, as well as the United States, shows that Bush's foreign policy is just as unpopular across the Atlantic as it was a year ago.
Seventy-two percent of Europeans disapprove of Bush's foreign policies, and 59 percent believe that U.S. leadership in global affairs is undesirable, according to the annual survey by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a Washington-based organization that promotes transatlantic studies. Those numbers hardly budged from the fund's poll the year before.
"We found that, despite major efforts to repair relations, there is still a rift in how [Americans and Europeans] view each other and the world," said Craig Kennedy, president of the fund.
There were some positive signs for Bush. Democracy promotion, which Bush declared in his second inaugural address would be the lodestar of his foreign policy, has support in the United States and overseas -- more popular in Europe, (74 percent) than in this country (51 percent). The poll also sought to calibrate how individual European nations feel about the United States using a foreign opinion "thermometer." The Brits are warmest to the United States -- 57 on a 100-degree scale -- while the Turks and Spaniards are coolest -- a chilly 28 and 42, respectively. Other findings include:
· Fifty-four percent of Americans believe the United States and European Union should become closer (down six points from 2004). No thanks, say Europeans, 55 percent of whom say the European Union should exert more independence on security and diplomatic issues (up five points from a year ago).
· On the problem of Iran's nuclear ambitions, there is little support for a military solution in either the United States (15 percent) or Europe (5 percent) but also no consensus on whether diplomatic pressure on Tehran or economic sanctions are the better approach.Rove's Voting Registration Disputed
Presidential adviser Karl Rove may live and pay taxes in Washington, but he's welcome to vote back home in Texas anytime he pleases, a spokesman for Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams said yesterday.
"As far as our office is concerned, we don't see any problem with his registration in Texas because he says he intends to return," spokesman Scott Haywood said. "If he intends to return, he would be fine."
Haywood's interpretation of Texas election law differs a bit from that of Elizabeth Reyes, an attorney in the secretary of state's elections division. Last week, Reyes told The Washington Post that Rove could be accused of voter fraud if he is registered at an address that is not his primary residence. Rove, who spends much of the year in a $1.1 million house in Washington, claims for voting purposes to live in a $25,000 rental cottage he owns in Kerr County, Tex.
Locals say they can't remember a time when Rove actually lived there. No matter, said Haywood. For one thing, Reyes "was not authorized to speak on behalf of the agency." And she was flat wrong, to boot, he said. Under Texas law, a residence is a "fixed place of habitation to which one intends to return after a temporary absence," he said. Doesn't matter if you ever lived there, you just have to intend to live there.
Still, a legal watchdog group yesterday filed a complaint with Williams's office, asking that Rove be prosecuted. "A man who lives in a $1.1 million mansion in Washington does not intend to move into an 814-square-foot cottage that he's rented out since 1997," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.