Wildlife runs for cover as Don George blunders into Spain

By James Roberts,Elizabeth Nash
Thursday 27 February 2014 03:13

It was the day Don Quixote was reunited with Sancho Panza. The man who is convinced he is leader of the free world stood side by side with a man whose name and title he could not quite remember, and gave that world some serious advice on the best way to stay free.

"Trade is one of the most hopeful opportunities for people around the globe," George Bush informed his Madrid audience sagely, on the first stop of his first trip to Europe as President of the United States. Moreover the US had a "strong commitment to interface with our friends on a bilateral basis".

The first European friend with whom Mr Bush chose to interface was Jose Maria Aznar, the Prime Minister of Spain ­ or, in the mind of Don George, the President of Spain. Mr Bush's elevation, mid-press conference, of his host to the position of head of state may not have been simply quixotic.

Earlier in the day, before "one of the most beneficial lunches I have had since I've been President of the United States" ­ which consisted of gazpacho, paella, hake, strawberries and Coca-Cola ­ Mr Bush had mispronounced on television his host's name as "Anzar". Perhaps his persistent use of the words "Mr President" was simply an attempt to make enthusiastic amends for his earlier error.

If so, there was no need, for the actual head of state, King Juan Carlos, had already exacted vengeance on his Prime Minister's behalf. He greeted Mr Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, with the words "Buenos Dias, Arroz" ­ Good Morning, Rice, in the local language. Unfortunately the King did not have the courage to address Mr Bush with the words "Buenos Dias, Arbusto". President Arbusto would probably not have minded as he himself admitted he needed practice in the "language of Cervantes". This was a successful reference, up to a point. Cervantes did write in Spanish, and Mr Bush was in Spain. But Cervantes' Don Quixote is world-renowned for his habit of titling at windmills.

And President Bush is in Europe to defend America's determination to tear up the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty between his country and the former Soviet Union and set up a new missile defence system designed to safeguard America from attack from such "windmill" states as North Korea.

The leaders also wanted to sort out their differences on the environment. They met at the "cigarral" or "pleasure orchard" of Quintos de Mora, 160 miles south of Madrid. Mr Bush does not only want to tear up the ABM treaty. He also wants to tear up the Kyoto Treaty on global warming, arguing that its implementation would damage the American economy.

At Quintos de Mora, there are partridges and eagles, deer and wild boar among more than 2,000 animals that roam the 900 hectares of forest and scrub. Yesterday, the only creature to be seen was a bronze stag that adorned the lawn. The rest had gone to earth, scared off by the helicopters that brought the leader of the free world and his entourage. Somehow, it was a metaphor worthy of Cervantes.

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