Zapatero and Obama

By José Mariá Carrascal
Translated By Emily Kaney

23 June 2010

Edited by Jessica Boesl
Spain – ABC – Original Article (Spanish)

Who was going to tell the young José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, seated as the U.S. flag passed by in the military parade on Spain’s national day in Madrid in 2003, that one day he would be as happy as a little boy with new shoes to receive a call from the president of the United States! … And furthermore, to congratulate him. Well, to congratulate him conditionally, as the call also contained warnings about the necessity to continue with [budget] cuts he initiated. Cuts that he would not have made if they were not imposed by Europe and Obama himself.

However, in the end, the important thing was the call, an “event of planetary significance between two progressive forces from both sides of the Atlantic,” as described by the Spanish Socialist Party’s secretary Leire Pajin. This, the entire world took as a joke. Well, here they have it again. I imagine that the call was preserved on tape and disc in order for Zapatero to play it for his grandchildren someday. “Do you hear that? This guy who’s talking was the president of the United States of America. And he was calling me, your grandfather.”

Lately, it has been in fashion among Spanish commentators to psychoanalyze our president. He has been compared to Machiavelli. He has been classified as an optimistic anthropologist, albeit with drops into depression. He has been scrutinized by the right and on the left — [each] failing to categorize him — perhaps because, as is often the case, he does not fit into any of the molds corresponding with those in the high circles in which he moves. In other words, Zapatero’s secret is to not have any. He himself came to recognize it when he told his wife that anyone can be president of the Spanish government; “anyone” meaning a nobody. The bad thing occurs when a nobody finds himself at the head of a country with a poorly dealt hand and the only thing they know how to do, if there is luck, is what he is told to do. would like to look like Obama. But the difference between them is abysmal. Obama had a long road to the White House, starting with being black (or rather mulatto), the son of a mother abandoned by her husband, and all this situation represents in a society that still has not managed to shake off racism (other societies haven’t either, by the way). His hard work earned him the chance to study in the best universities and his political career began at the lowest rung of the ladder, serving as an intermediary between the University of Chicago and the ghetto that surrounds it. For the presidency, he had to battle candidates much more well-known than he, including the wife of an ex-president. In other words, nothing went easy for him.

Zapatero, on the other hand, was not even a member of his city council. He was a good boy from Valladolid, who claimed to be from Leon to have more working-class merit, but it stopped there. The confusion in the PSOE after the defeat of Gonzalez made him a candidate, and the bombs of 11-M, president. What he has done as such is common knowledge. Practically everything has gone wrong for him. There is nothing unusual about Zapatero being so delighted about the phone call from Obama. It could end up being the highlight of his term.

Source: Watching America

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