Editor’s note — Barack Obama is in Paris today, one day after his huge rally in Berlin. NRO’s Byron York was in Paris last month and saw firsthand a bit of the French love affair with Obama. This column originally appeared last month in The Hill.
Paris — “But why wouldn’t you vote for Obama?”
I’m having lunch with an Obama supporter at La Coupole, the venerable brasserie in Paris’s Montparnasse neighborhood. The woman who asked me that question, along with her fiance, has come to discuss something else, but the talk inevitably comes round to the U.S. presidential race. And the question here, as all across Europe, is:
What reason could there possibly be for Barack Obama not
to be the next president of the United States?
Put another way, why would anyone vote for John McCain?
There are any number of reasons I could mention, but since we had just gotten word in the last few hours of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Boumediene case, in which the narrowest possible majority, 5-4, voted that prisoners in Guantanamo Bay can go to federal court to challenge the U.S. government’s right to detain them, I bring up the issue of judges.
A decision like Boumediene is bad enough from the current Court, I say. If Obama were elected, it would certainly get worse.
My lunch companion doesn’t agree. In the European mind, Guantanamo is one of the centers of evil in the world, a dungeon where George W. Bush commits unspeakable acts on innocent Muslims who just happened to be on a battlefield in Afghanistan or Pakistan when U.S. troops captured them.
She says the prisoners in Gitmo have been denied their constitutional rights.
I say they are enemy combatants; they have rights under international treaties, but not American constitutional rights.
But they have “global rights,” she insists.
What are “global rights”? I ask.
There’s no precise definition, but as far as I could tell, “global rights” appear to be American constitutional rights applied to the entire planet. It’s an astounding notion, given that American constitutional rights definitely do not apply across the entire planet — not even in places like, well, France.