The limits of Europe-bashing

THE LIMITS OF EUROPE-BASHING…. For months, congressional Republicans have compared Democratic economic proposals to Europe — and not in a good way. The GOP’s assumption is that European economic policies represent some kind of dystopian nightmare that Americans necessarily find repulsive. When Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the top Republican on the House Budget Committee, said that Obama’s budget is “worse” than “Europe’s” — as if the continent has just one budget — it was meant as the ultimate conservative insult.

As a substantive matter, the rhetoric is silly. As a political matter, the assumption that Americans are repelled by Europe is just wrong.

Research 2000 conducted a poll for Daily Kos gauging public attitudes about San Francisco, New York City, France, and Europe in general. Both San Francisco and New York both enjoy broad favorable numbers, but I was especially interested in the other parts of the poll.

* “Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the country of France?”

Overall, 61% of Americans have a favorable impression of the U.S. ally, including majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. The favorable impression was strong in the Northeast, West, and Midwest, and the only constituency with an unfavorable opinion of France was Southerners.

* “Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the continent of Europe?”

Similarly, 63% have a favorable impression of Europe, which also spanned every party. Again, the only group who doesn’t have a favorable opinion of the continent is Southerners.

Markos concluded:

This is clear evidence that the GOP has become a rump regional party. Because everyone else in America is just scratching their head at all that hatred directed at these places. They like San Francisco a lot. They love France. They think Europe is fantastic. And not even the New York Yankees can get people to hate on the Big Apple. And the more the Rushes and Becks bash those places, the more out of step with the Real America conservatives appear.

I’d just add that it’s striking how badly conservative talking points have been striking out lately. Republicans kept screaming, “Socialism!” which looked silly when socialism didn’t poll that badly. They’re shouting, “Europe!” which looks even sillier since Americans seem to like Europe just fine.