Nets Take Last Shot at How Europeans Say Good Riddance to Bush, Prefer Obama

Getting in some last shots at President Bush as his trip to Europe came to an end in London, CBS and ABC on Sunday night focused stories on Bush's unpopularity on the continent where “they're glad he's on his way out” and it's “an understatement to say that Mr. Bush is unpopular.” CBS correspondent Bill Plante asserted “much of Europe thinks of Mr. Bush as a cowboy who has ridden roughshod over the wishes of his allies and they're glad he's on his way out,” before the CBS Evening News featured a woman on the street who declared: “Good-bye. It was not fun. And I am looking forward to the change.” Then viewers heard from protesters: “George Bush? Terrorist! George Bush? Terrorist!” Plante proceeded to highlight:
According to a Pew Research Center poll out last week, Europeans -- a majority of Britons, French and Germans -- believe a new President means a better U.S. foreign policy, and for most Britons, French and Germans, Barack Obama's personal story and opposition to the war make him a heavy favorite over John McCain when it comes to their confidence in his handling of foreign policy.
On ABC's World News, anchor Dan Harris maintained: “It is, perhaps, an understatement to say that Mr. Bush is unpopular in Europe right now.” Reporter Jonathan Karl agreed “President Bush hasn't exactly received a warm farewell in Europe,” but noted “it hasn't been a hostile one, either” and “that's a big change. Four years ago, as outrage over the Iraq war reached its peak, he was greeted with massive, sometimes violent protests, wherever he went.” Today, however, “there are tourists, not protesters in Trafalgar Square. Part of the reason is resentment of the United States is starting to wane. Another is simply that Europe is already looking beyond President Bush.”

A Johns Hopkins professor charged that “George Bush is probably the most unpopular figures one can imagine, throughout the continent.” After a clip of First Lady Laura Bush arguing her husband is “going to have an unbelievably great legacy, with the advantage of hindsight,” Karl snidely observed: “Maybe. But he's got a long, long way to go.”

Plante's Pew numbers came from a Pew Global Attitudes Project survey released on June 12.

A CBS graphic showed those in Britain had more “confidence” in Obama over McCain to handle world affairs by 62 to 37 percent; 77 to 38 percent in France and 73 to 32 percent in Germany.

Transcripts of the Sunday, June 15 stories on CBS and ABC (golf bumped the NBC Nightly News):

CBS Evening News:
RUSS MITCHELL: President Bush is due back at the White House tomorrow after his week-long trip to Europe. It has been a journey to say good-bye the allies that's brought strong reaction good and bad. Bill Plante is traveling with the President.

BILL PLANTE: Sunday afternoon tea with the Queen at Windsor castle. The President is enjoying the final leg of his European farewell tour. He says he'll have good news for his successor.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. PRESS I will be pleased to report to him that the relationship between the United Sates and Europe is the broadest and most vibrant it has ever been.

PLANTE: But much of Europe thinks of Mr. Bush as a cowboy who has ridden roughshod over the wishes of his allies and they're glad he's on his way out.

WOMAN ON STREET: Good-bye. It was not fun. And I am looking forward to the change.

PROTESTORS: George Bush? Terrorist! George Bush? Terrorist!

PLANTE: Here in London, there's still angry opposition to the Iraq war and particularly to the presence of 4,200 British troops in the south of Iraq. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who suffers from approval ratings as low as the President's, reportedly hoped to bring all his troops home by the end of the year, but Mr. Bush's position is there should be no set timetable.

BUSH ON SKY NEWS: If there's success, we're going to pull troops out. And I have absolutely no problem with how Gordon Brown is managing the Iraqi effort.

PLANTE: The appearance that Washington sets the agenda in Iraq and elsewhere reinforces the European view that Mr. Bush does what he pleases without regard to the feelings of his friends and allies. And according to a Pew Research Center poll out last week, Europeans -- a majority of Britons, French and Germans -- believe a new President means a better U.S. foreign policy, and for most Britons, French and Germans, Barack Obama's personal story and opposition to the war make him a heavy favorite over John McCain when it comes to their confidence in his handling of foreign policy. But there's also a dose of weary European realism.

MAN ON STREET: The problems are still there to be resolved, so I think he will have a hard time when he's President. Anyway, you know.

PLANTE: Sure, because the reality in Washington is that high expectations are usually hard to fulfill. Bill Plante, CBS News, with the President in London.

ABC's World News:
DAN HARRIS: It is, perhaps, an understatement to say that Mr. Bush is unpopular in Europe right now. That is something that he acknowledged, unapologetically, today. ABC's Jonathan Karl is traveling with the President.

JONATHAN KARL: From the Queen, a warm welcome today at Windsor Castle. From the less lofty President Bush hasn't exactly received a warm farewell in Europe. But it hasn't been a hostile one, either. That's a big change. Four years ago, as outrage over the Iraq war reached its peak, he was greeted with massive, sometimes violent protests, wherever he went. In London's Trafalgar Square, they even tore down a mock statue of him. Today, there are tourists, not protesters in Trafalgar Square. Part of the reason is resentment of the United States is starting to wane. Another is simply that Europe is already looking beyond President Bush.

PATRICK JARREAU, LE MONDE: They don't see the bond to demonstrate against somebody who will be out of power in six months or so.

KARL: Virtually every one of his foreign policy decisions seemed to outrage Europe. The Iraq war. Guantanamo Bay. And global warming, to name a few.

BUSH, ON TUESDAY: Yeah, there are problems. On the other hand, there's much more that unites us than divides us.

KARL: Since his re-election in 2004, Bush has been trying to repair the damage. In stark contrast to how he dealt with Iraq, for example, the President has let Europe take the lead on confronting Iran.

PROFESSOR DANIEL HAMILTON, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: During the second term, the Bush administration started right off saying we want to work with Europe. It's a very important partner, perhaps our most important partner. Let's get this right for our second term.

KARL: America's image may be improving, but Bush still isn't winning any popularity contests.

HAMILTON: George Bush is probably the most unpopular figures one can imagine, throughout the continent.

BUSH ON SKY NEWS: I want it to be said about George W. Bush that when he finished his presidency, he looked in the mirror and a man who did not compromise his core principles for the sake of politics.

KARL: The more popular Bush acknowledged the problem.

LAURA BUSH, ON MONDAY: I know he may not be that popular right now, as you say. But I think he's going to have an unbelievably great legacy, with the advantage of hindsight.

KARL: Maybe. But he's got a long, long way to go. Tomorrow, the President meets with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. And, Dan, he'll also be having breakfast the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, somebody who has been almost as unpopular here as President Bush.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center