Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

The widening gap

The brouhaha over the failure of designate Commission president Jos� Manuel Barroso to form an administration because of objections of MEPs to the appointment of Rocco Buttiglione as European Commissioner for justice and home affairs appears to confirm three trends:1. The growing culture gap between Europe and the US. Buttiglione’s position was considered untenable because of his homophobic and anti-feminist remarks, which were apparently the product of his ultra-Catholic beliefs. In the US, leading politicians, particularly Republican ones, rarely lose their positions over their off-the-cuff remarks about homosexuals deserving hellfire. As for expressing their religious convictions or lack of, US politicians would consider it career suicide to express any doubts about the existence of God. Despite his strong performances in the debates, it was still a little disheartening to hear Senator Kerry forced to trot out his altar-boy shtick as a sort of pre-emptive defence before standing up for the separation of the Church and State in the United States.Meanwhile, this story from the Onion perfectly captures President Bush’s browbeating approach to sharing his faith.2. The increasing clout of the European Parliament. However, the benchmark by which we measure MEPs’ performance is really very low. Most of us remain very much in the dark about what exactly they do to earn their seats on the gravy train. (Question: How many MEPs are there in total and how many represent Ireland? Answer at the bottom of the page.)3. The steady apathy of the EU electorate. Despite the fact that the de facto European government is facing ongoing paralysis, I haven’t encountered a single person concerned about the fate of the Commission. And why should they? Europe appears to be muddling along regardless. Of course, everybody is distracted by events across the Atlantic. Encouragingly, the Economist has reluctantly endorsed Kerry. This merely confirms the growing suspicion that old-style conservatives with libertarian leanings (in other words, the government should stay out of my pocket and my bedroom) are quietly appalled at a Bush administration that appears to hope that divine intervention will vanquish the budget deficit.The New Yorker, less surprisingly, also endorses Kerry. However, much of the passion is reserved for lambasting the incumbent. The tone is summed up by the following extract:�I guess you�d say I�m a good steward of the land,� Bush mused dreamily during debate No. 2. Or maybe you�d say nothing of the kind. Fingers crossed, everyone… Answer: 732, 13