Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel… (Thanassis Stavrakis / Pool/Getty…)
Did you see that German Chancellor Angela Merkel took a nice trip south Tuesday to Greece? Went really well; 30,000 or so Greeks turned out to greet her.
OK, well, "greet" might not be the right word.
The Greeks can be fun-loving and laid back, but not when it comes to the leader whom, as The Times reported, “they blame for pushing Greece down the road to economic ruin through her relentless emphasis on austerity in exchange for emergency aid.”
So it was kind of like President Obama going to a tea party rally.
The woman some protesters called "the new Fuhrer" got a hot reception:
Just minutes before Merkel arrived in downtown Athens, protesters dressed as Nazi officers rolled into Syntagma Square, outside the Greek Parliament building, in a military jeep festooned with swastika-stamped flags.
Then, as the German leader gave only qualified support for Greece's continued membership in the Eurozone, the club of 17 nations that use the euro currency, militant protesters fired a flurry of firecracker-like projectiles at the police outside Parliament.
Gosh, they didn’t advertise those events on the cruise ship itinerary!
Many conservative Americans, of course, both in California and the rest of the country, see Greece as a kind of canary in the coal mine for what’s in store for us -- until/unless Gov. Jerrry Brown, Obama and Democrats/liberals everywhere are driven from our midst.
And quotes like this feed that notion:
"History is repeating itself," said Georgia Taragi, a 59-year-old pensioner. "Only this time we won't stand for it. Greeks have awakened."
The key phrase there being “a 59-year-old pensioner.”
Yikes! Unless Georgia was a firefighter/police officer, some might argue that that’s kinda young to be retired. (This is the part where the dear readers jump in with comments like “What about California!? Stinkin’ unions will be the death of us!” and the like. So there, I’ve saved you the trouble. Try something new.)
But the Greeks aren’t alone. In Paris on Tuesday, French lawmakers signaled their allegiance to the so-called golden rule of Eurozone budgeting, in which European countries commit to reducing their public deficits to within 0.5% of gross domestic product.
Of course, this being France, there’s “yes” and then there’s “oui”:
At present, France's deficit is hovering around 4.6%, though the country's Socialist president, Francois Hollande, has pledged to reduce it to 3% by the end of next year.
The government has admitted that it is unlikely France will reach the standard of the "golden rule" before 2015. The country has not balanced its books in decades and has regularly flouted existing European Union rules that member states keep their spending to within 3% of GDP. In 2011, France's deficit hit 5.2%
Still, for those of you who think Obama’s a socialist, here’s what a real one had to say:
Bruno le Roux, the president of the ruling Socialists in the National Assembly, called on his fellow party members to support Hollande, and the majority heeded that call.
"This is serious at the beginning of a five-year term in office and when it's the first solemn vote of the Assembly. It's a question of political responsibility," Le Roux said.
He told opponents: "Europe is about responsibilities -- it's for us to make it. Stop dreaming. Make it!"
Talk about bipartisanship. Maybe Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner can learn a thing or two from the French after all.
Besides, when socialists start talking tough about the economy, maybe this is serious.
Which is echoed in another chilling tidbit from The Times on Tuesday:
The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday downgraded its economic projections and warned of an "alarmingly high" risk of a serious global slowdown because of fiscal problems in the U.S. and Europe.
So, if you thought $5-a-gallon gas was bad, you better start cheering for Angela Merkel -- and the Greeks and the French -- to do the right thing.
Perhaps Obama and Mitt Romney can debate that next time. It might be dull, but it’s certainly important.
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