A few months ago, I wrote a post asking Spanish president Zapatero to kindly mind his own business. Now it’s time to politely ask former Spanish president Jose Maria Aznar (or “Anzar” as George W. Bush used to mispronounce) to quiet himself.
According to El Mundo, Aznar has labeled Obama’s victory a “historic exoticism” (“un exotismo histórico”). Maybe he’s referring to the color of Obama’s skin, or maybe he’s thinking about how exotic it would be in Spain if Aznar’s Partido Populuar were to have open and transparent primary elections to decide its presidential candidate. Unlike in the U.S. where a virtually unknown candidate was able to topple his party’s embedded hierarchy (ie, Hillary), in Spain the parties choose their candidates by petit comité — the result being that popular and electable candidates like Gallardon and Aguirre are blockaded from the national scene by the prolific loser Mariano Rajoy. Maybe the lesson that Aznar should be taking from the exotic U.S. election is not that an African American can reaffirm the American dream, but that transparency and political accountability are what make a democracy strong.
A lesson that both Aznar and Zapatero should have learned is that friendly democracies like the Spanish and American ones don’t openly and publicly take sides in the other’s elections. It is silly and counter-productive for Aznar to portray himself as a Republican and even discuss the merits of the candidates. Frankly, having once put his feet up on Bush’s table does not qualify Aznar, for example, to opine about Sarah Palin’s future in politics. Likewise, ZP should cease openly supporting candidates in domestic European elections as he had done with Obama during the U.S. elections.
Finally, the vice-secretary general braintrust of the PSOE (Zapatero’s party and Aznar’s rival) Jose Blanco has called Aznar’s statements about Obama racist. That may be so, but then Blanco should definitely criticize the similar commentary made regularly throughout the Spanish press. Just as an example, the section in El Mundo on the U.S. Elections is titled “A Black President for the White House“, highlighting the “changing color of history”. Get it? Obama is black, the White House is white. That’s not racism, it’s cleverly highlighting the exotic historic facts. Right?