Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero
Last week, the main square of Barcelona was the epicenter of a vital insurgency. On the lawns of the Placa Catalunya, thousands of Europeans—most of them young—orated, ate free food, tried on free used clothing, and took advantage of free child care and yoga classes. An excellent jazz quintet played protest songs for activists and onlookers alike.
The first time I saw Antoni Gaudi’s phantasmagoric Church of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona it was unfinished. That was 1965. On another visit, perhaps two decades later, it was still unfinished. And when I returned there on Monday it was not yet completed, although I heard from the conversational buzz around me the years 2012 and 2013. One dour looking pessimist uttered “2017” as the first possible date that the cathedral would really match its dreamer’s vision.
The most serious of Spain's torments is its economy. But, unlike Greece, which is basically an underdeveloped country but with high pretensions to being of the heart of Europe, Spain is at the historical and financial core of the continent. What binds the two countries is the artifice that they are both socialist. It is quite different to run a relatively advanced socialist industrial society like Spain's than a country like Greece where governing runs from grandfather to son to grandson, George Papandreou to Andreas Papandreou to another George.
Jews usually go out to the movies on Christmas ... and then they go out to eat "Chinese." I've spent it writing. Below is my harvest. I wish you all good cheer. Here are the motifs of my writing day. Alas, none of them cheery. 1. THE REAL GRIM REAPER: HOLY DAY VICTIMS IN IRAQ AND PAKISTAN 2. COLD COMMON SENSE ABOUT IRAN FROM, MIRABILI DICTU, "THE NEW YORK TIMES" 3. A WISE EUROPEAN FOREIGN MINISTER: "WE SHOULD SHUT UP ABOUT THE MIDDLE EAST" 4. A SOBER "TIMES" PIECE ON ISRAELI MILITARY DOCTRINE 5.
Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the Spanish prime minister who pulled his country's troops out of Iraq, is one of those haughty moralists who tells others to "make peace, not war." OK, he doesn't exactly say that. But he comes close. And where have all the flowers gone? We shall overcome. Etc. Some of his cachet about being a peace-maker came from the relative calm Basque terrorists, ETA, kept in the country. You see, people said, Zapatero knows how to make peace. Alas! An article in todays's Herald Tribune by Paddy Woodworth tells us what's happened to Zapatero's Basque policy.
Poor Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. He thought he had a cease fire with ETA, which Elaine Sciolini calls in this morning's Times, "[T]he armed Basque separatist organization." It is, of course, the armed Basque terrorist organization. But, never mind. Zapatero was working on the assumption that ETA and Spain were both on a sure path to peace. Alas, then ten days ago, a bomb attack at Barajas airport killed two people and injured some two dozen others.