European Protests as Bush Heads for G-8 Summit

Is the president acting to soften his image -- and America's?

ByABC News
February 10, 2009, 9:03 AM

June 3, 2007 — -- The protests in Europe started even before President Bush's scheduled departure Monday morning for an eight-day visit to six countries, including the G-8 summit in Germany.

Over the weekend, demonstrators in Germany were out protesting many issues, but Bush and Iraq are near the top of their list.

As for the president himself, he sounded this past week less like a war leader than the compassionate conservative of the 2000 campaign.

On Thursday, he said, "We are a compassionate nation. When Americans see suffering and know that our country can help to stop it, they expect our government to respond."

All this in one week. What's going on?

Charles Kupchan, director of Europe studies for the Council on Foreign Relations, told ABC News, "I think Bush is thinking about his legacy. He wants to present to the Europeans a kinder, gentler, nicer America.

"The last six years, it's been about the global war on terror the use of force, the war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq," Kupchan said. "And I think he's turning to what he himself calls a more compassionate agenda."

German demonstrators may not have paid much attention to Bush's initiatives, but Kupchan thinks many other Europeans have.

"These are the sorts of things that I think the Europeans are happy to see," he said. "It doesn't mean they are going to love Bush for the remainder of his presidency. But I do think that it means that the relationship between the U.S. and Europe would be on a more even keel."