Wolfgang Schüssel for President of the European Council? Ken Clarke certainly thought so on Any Questions, and while it is Michael Heseltine who is the European Commission's place man in Britain (the key to understanding the hysterical hostility that has been whipped up towards the only person to become Prime Minister since 1990 without first having been anointed by Heseltine), Clarke is nevertheless the figure whom it requires in the Shadow Cabinet of Heseltine's mini-me, David Cameron. So Schüssel may very well be the man to watch.
He is, after all, a native speaker of the language with the largest such both in the EU and in Europe as a whole. However, he is not from Germany. Yes, he went into coalition, not with Haider himself, but nevertheless with Haider's party. But pots and kettles, motes and beams; here, there and everywhere. Schüssel himself stands in the Dollfuss-Schuschnigg tradition that held the Social Catholic line against both Nazism and Communism until Hitler overthrew it by force. Its holding of that line was not without aspects of authoritarianism. But was there none of following incorporation into the Third Reich? Would there have been none as a Soviet satellite (which at the start of the War would have entailed entering it as a de facto member of the Axis, just as the Soviet Union was at that point)? I am given to understand that there was quite a bit in the former, and that there would have been quite a bit in the latter. Whisper it not, but possibly even rather more than under Dollfuss and Schuschnigg.
There was a very similar situation in Portugal, where the Social Catholic line had to be held with some force both against the National Syndicalists and against, first the Stalinists, and then the Maoists, who ended up staging a coup one of the leaders of which has gone on, via a period of rabid "free"-marketeering and Bush-loving as Prime Minister, to become the President of the European Commission. Isn't neoconservatism wonderful? Anyone who still doubts, even after that, that the EU has been since the Forties a pet project of the US in general, and in particular of sectarian Leftist American foreign policy hawks such as surrounded Bush, perhaps you will finally get the message if Blair becomes President? Then again, probably not.
But whether you see it or not, that is yet another reason to ensure a serious alternative candidate. Schüssel, heir to Dollfuss and Schuschnigg rather than to Trotsky and Shachtman, may be that man. So may John Bruton, heir to Eoin O'Duffy's resistance both to Soviet influence in Ireland and to a full-scale takeover in Spain (which, again, would have involved Axis membership in all but name in 1939). Christian Democrats have been, and remain, wrong about the EU as some sort of Christendom reborn. But they have been, and are, right about an awful lot more. If the EU must have a President, then it could do a lot worse than have a President like that. For example, Tony Blair.