Sunday, February 20, 2005

Need a good snooze?

I haven't had a good rant about the "EU constitution" lately and since Spain is kicking off the voting on it today, now would be a good time. However, it's such a tedious amalgam of bureaucratic blather that I'm hard pressed to work up the enthusiasm. I need not have fretted - Charles Moore handles it nicely in the Telegraph with Why the EU Constitution is bad for Britain and bad for the US:
Several countries, including Britain, are committed to holding referendums on the subject. Spain is first off, on Sunday. According to the Spanish justice minister: "You don't have to read the treaty to know it's a good thing."
That gives ya confidence!
George W. Bush is a good Protestant [connection in the article - ed.], but I doubt if he has read the European Constitution. Why should he, indeed, since he is lucky enough to live in a country that will not be ruled by it? No reason at all, unless, as is rumoured, early drafts of the speech he will make in Brussels next week commit him to saying what a wonderful thing it is.
Er, bad mistake. Gosh, could it be a sneaky ploy to turn all those sensitive Euros who detest him against it?
It is natural for Americans to like the sound of the word "constitution". They have the best one ever written in a single document. It consists, in the copy I have before me, of 12 pages, 11 if you exclude the list of the men who signed it. There are also amendments added over the past two centuries: they amount to another nine pages. If President Bush tucked himself up with it at his famously early bedtime of 9.30, he could finish it well before 10.

I should be surprised if the State Department, the Washington faction keenest on turning Mr Bush into a Euro-enthusiast, has encouraged him to go to bed with a copy of the European Constitution. My copy, published by TSO (note that the former name Her Majesty's Stationery Office has quietly been relegated), is 511 pages long. I do not claim it would keep Mr Bush up all night – in fact, I guarantee that, if he tried to read it, he would still be asleep by 10 – but it would wake him and the First Lady up with a start as it slipped from his nerveless hands and crashed, all 2lb 8oz of it, on the floor.

If he did spend 20 minutes with the document, however, the President would see that it was not what is normally meant by a constitution. Rather than confining itself to the division of powers by which a country should be governed – head of state, parliament, judiciary, what's local and what's national – it lays out scores of pages telling people how to run their lives. It supports positive discrimination, outlaws the death penalty in all circumstances, commits itself to high public spending, compulsory consultation with trade unions about changes at work, "the exchange of youth workers", "fat-free breakfasts", "distance education" and "the physical and moral integrity of sportsmen and sportswomen" (I made one of these up).
How can you tell? More humor by following the link, but it's rather sick humor. How did otherwise normal people become so addled by a mirage of bureaucratic nirvana? Anyhow, the President should tell the Foggy Bottom ponces to stuff it. If the Euros want to go to hell in a handbasket, we shouldn't grease the skids.

UPDATE: Mark Steyn:
And now the President himself is on his way, staying up all night on Air Force One trying to master the official State Department briefing paper on the European Rapid Reaction Force, the European Constitution, the European negotiations with Iran, etc. ("When these subjects come up, US policy is to nod politely and try not to giggle. If you feel a massive hoot of derision coming on, duck out to the men's room, but without blaming it on the escargots.")