Wednesday, February 23, 2005
The president is wonderfully un-European - refreshingly so in the view of those of us who have worked in Brussels.
He is unsmooth. He stumbles over his sentences. He uses short, plain, sometimes almost babyish words, while the sophisticated multilingual Euro crowd prefer obfuscatory long ones.
And he gets a clear message across, like it or not. He has no need of spin.
It was interesting that on the White House bus back into town, the journalists did not need to compare notes or discuss the president's words and what they meant.
On the other hand, for Chirac and Schroeder there was a discussion that would have made an old-style Kremlinologist blush.
Much of it was over my head, but my clever colleague Alec Russell from the Telegraph held his own rather well, I am pleased to report, in an argument with a Dutchman about whether a particular message was "implicit" or "explicit" in a text.
Some people think Schroeder said one thing about Nato and some think he actually meant another. Others claim that Chirac really believes Schroeder wanted to say... etc etc.
Welcome to Europe, Mr Bush.
Sounds a lot like Canada.