In Europe, which I’ve been visiting for the past month, no American presidential election since 1960 has been followed with such interest, passion even, as this one. All over the Continent, with the irrelevant exception of Georgia, the elite class is rooting for Obama and hoi polloi are following the lead. When Obama toured Europe last July he was courted by political leaders as if he were already in the White House, while a crowd of 200,000 in Berlin gave him a frenzied welcome not seen since that Ich bin ein Berliner speech.

That leftist radicals and neo-Marxists who run the European Union adore Obama is normal. They, too, are dirigiste statists and therefore like his desire to tax and redistribute wealth and create an ever more dependent welfariat. They share with him the assumtions about man and society – especially a society based on European heritage – that are essentially revolutionary. After eight years of „the culturally alien“ Bush, „the transatlantic relationship needs a positive figure with which it can identify,“ says Thomas Klau of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Western Europe’s political leaders and bien-pensants can identify with Obama and especially the color of his skin because they are ashamed of their whiteness. They share his hostility to any form of European or, in America’s case, Euro-derived ethnic or cultural coherence, which is flatly equated with „racism.“ Even the Economist of London subscribes to this view. Obama’s victory, it opined, „would salve, if not close, the ugly wound left by America’s history.“

According to Dominique Moisi of the French Institute for International Relation, the perception in Europe is that Obama can transform the view that the U.S. and the West have of themselves: „For many Europeans, a reinvention of America is Europe’s last hope.“ Obama’s role thus becomes that of a secular Messiah who will redeem the guilt-ridden heirs of a morally unsustainable Western civilization by helping liquidate it.

In the eastern half of Europe – in Russia, and less importantly in Serbia, Belarus, Armenia, and the anti-Yushchenko half of Ukraine – the sentiment is anti-McCain, rather than pro-Obama. McCain’s visceral Russophobia, his services to the Albanian lobby over Kosovo, his insistence that Ukraine’s future is in NATO, and his unrestrained support of „Misha“ (Saakashvili), make him loathed on realist grounds of old geopolitics. Obama’s ideology and domestic agenda appear relatively insignificant to those who feel existentially threatened by McCain and all he stands for.

The European Right (or, rather, its smouldering remnant) is staying quiet, aware that there is little to commend McCain except alleged domestic lesser-evilism. Paul Johnson, the conservative British writer and historian, rightly points out that „Obama is not the man to sort out America’s problems. He’s full of high-falutin waffle. We just do not know what he stands for. Americans have a lot of common sense and know rough times lie ahead. That is why America needs a leader from the right.“

Johnson is wrong, however, to assume that John McCain is either „a leader“ or „from the right.“ He is neither, and tonight the GOP and the nation will pay the price.