That’s your president.
President George W. Bush went to Europe on Monday faced with a long to-do list, and one overriding obstacle in the way of all of it: To Europeans, he’s the least popular U.S. president in history.
“Bush is so disliked that he’s not even considered anymore,” said Franco Pavoncello, a leading analyst of Italian politics. “He’s part of the past. Italians have moved beyond him and now care only about who will replace him.”
Opinion polls typically put Bush’s approval ratings in European nations between 10% and 20%, but they’re higher in Italy and much lower in France and Germany. When asked last autumn if the United States should be in a position of world leadership, 37% of Europeans said yes, down from the 64% who approved of a U.S. leadership role five years earlier.
Michele de Palma, who organized protests for Italy’s Communist Party when Bush arrived in 2004, said the dislike is so deep that he doubted he could get people even to protest the president’s arrival in Rome.
“Here, we just want to forget he exists,” he said. “In 2004, we had 100,000 protesters. This time, I’ll be lucky to find 10,000. People don’t see the point; Bush is last year’s news.”