Given that I wrote about Europe's reaction to Obama's win in Iowa last week, I thought it logical to now write about its reaction to his loss this week. Just from personal observation, I've been surprised at the huge level of relief being expressed by most people I know here in the UK. It seems that though they were impressed with and surprised by Barack's win, they are still rooting for Hillary to win the Democratic nomination. In fact I don't know a single European who actively wants Obama to win.
Part of this of course is that they know Hillary, they adored Bill Clinton and are eager to see a return to the Clinton years. They know almost nothing about Obama, and being removed from the domestic situation in the US they can't quite understand the enthusiasm for a man who has outlined little of his actual platform or policy plans.
And from a European perspective, what they do know they don't like. An article in The Times of London in December first started spreading the fear that Obama wasn't all that interested in or knowledgeable about Europe. The article pointed out that although Obama has been chairman of the Senate European Subcommittee since he became a senator in 2004 , he has failed to convene a single policy meeting of the group. He's also only made one brief official visit to London, and none to the rest of Western Europe. In fact there has been speculation that Obama hasn't travelled in Europe at all, even on an informal level. The campaign has been slow and vague in denying this.
This of course contrasts with Clinton's extensive visits to Europe in an unofficial and official capacity and her close contact with European leaders.
But beyond the distrust Europeans feel about Obama's enthusiasm for Europe, there is also another hesitation, particularly in the UK. As one Scottish friend put it, "I think we all view Obama with some distrust because we were burned so bad by Tony Blair, who came in with that same promise of renewal and hope but turned out to be just like the rest of them."
Of course the extent to which this is true of Blair can be debated, but considering the prevailing mood about Blair's legacy here in the UK at the moment it's not surprising that they would view a 'reformer' whipping people into a frenzy of hope and enthusiasm across the pond with a bit of cynicism.