Yes! Vaclav Klaus To Assume EU Presidency

The smartest man in Europe, Vaclav Klaus, is ready to turn the continent on its head and drive European elitists into a constant state of madness. The New York Times is already sounding the alarm bells:

Now the Czech Republic is about to assume the rotating presidency of the European Union and there is palpable fear that Mr. Klaus will embarrass the world's biggest trading bloc and complicate its efforts to address the economic crisis and expand its powers. His role in the Czech Republic is largely ceremonial, but he remains a powerful force here, has devotees throughout Europe and delights in basking in the spotlight.

"Oh God, Vaclav Klaus will come next," read a recent headline in the Austrian daily Die Presse, in an article anticipating the havoc he could wreak in a union of 470 million people already divided over its future direction.

I thought Europe embraced diverse ideas? My bad.

An economist by training and a free marketeer by ideology, Mr. Klaus has criticized the course set by the union's departing leader, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France. The ambitious Mr. Sarkozy has used France's European Union presidency to push an agenda that includes broader and more coordinated regulation by the largest economies to tame the worst of the market’s excesses.

Even those who worry about Mr. Klaus's potential role as a spoiler concede that his influence over policy in the European Union will be circumscribed, given his largely symbolic functions as president in the Czech Republic.

But Mr. Klaus's sheer will and inflammatory talk - the eminent British historian Timothy Garton Ash once called him "one of the rudest men I have ever met" - are likely to have some impact.

"Klaus is a provocateur who will twist his arguments to get attention," said Jiri Pehe, a former adviser to Vaclav Havel, Mr. Klaus's rival and predecessor as president.

To supporters, Mr. Klaus is a brave, lone crusader, a defender of liberty, the only European leader in the mold of the formidable Margaret Thatcher. (Aides say Mr. Klaus has a photo of the former British prime minister in his office near his desk.)

To his many critics, he is a cynical populist, a hardheaded pragmatist long known as a foil to Mr. Havel, the philosopher-dreamer, and a troublemaker.

Mr. Klaus declined to be interviewed for this article. His office called a list of proposed questions "peculiar."

To say the least, I'm sure.

But his ideas about governance are out of step with many of the European Union nations that his country will lead starting Jan. 1.

While even many of the world's most ardent free marketeers acknowledged the need for the recent coordinated bailout of European banks, Mr. Klaus lambasted it as irresponsible protectionism. He blamed too much - rather than too little - regulation for the crisis.

A fervent critic of the environmental movement, he has called global warming a dangerous "myth," arguing that the fight against climate change threatens economic growth.


A dying breed, to say the least.