The outcome of yesterday’s Spanish elections reminds me of a public-television program I saw years ago about how to deal with street crime. The program showed some average-Joe citizens walking down the street and then suddenly accosted by a guy with a gun. While a voice-over droned approvingly, the victims reached meekly for their wallets and pulled the wedding rings off their fingers, all to make the mugger’s job easier and perhaps save their lives. The message: Wave a gun in someone’s face–or better yet, clobber him with it–and then help yourself.

The Spanish people yesterday voted out of office a party that had brought them eight straight years of economic prosperity and cut unemployment in half and brought back the Socialists, who had been unceremoniously dumped in 1996 amid charges of rampant corruption. Socialist leader Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has already promised to pull Spain’s 1,300 troops out of Iraq. The reason for the turnaround? I’ll let the eloquent James Lileks say it succinctly:

“Vote against the party that maddened the terrorists, so the terrorists will leave you alone for a while ‘ brilliant. It’s like sitting on a cooler of raw meat with tigers prowling around, and deciding to put down your rifle so you can throw some steaks at the tigers. If you throw hard enough, they won’t come back.

“At least Spain knows what’s expected of them now. If they remove the Socialists from power some day, they can expect a few bombs here and there to remind them of their place.”

And here’s Andrew Sullivan:

“[I]n yesterday’s election victory for the socialists, al Qaeda got even more than it could have dreamed of. It has removed a government intent on fighting terrorism and installed another intent on appeasing it. For good measure, they murdered a couple of hundred infidels. But the truly scary thought is the signal that this will send to other European governments. Britain is obviously next. The appeasement temptation has never been greater; and it looks more likely now that Europe – as so very often in the past – will take the path of least resistance – with far greater bloodshed as a result. I’d also say that it increases the likelihood of a major bloodbath in this country before the November elections. If it worked in Spain, al Qaeda might surmise, why not try it in the U.S.?”

And finally, here’s Mark Steyn:

“So the choice for pluralist democracies is simple: You can join Bush in taking the war to the terrorists, to their redoubts and sponsoring regimes. Despite the sneers that terrorism is a phenomenon and you can’t wage war against a phenomenon, in fact you can ‘ as the Royal Navy did very successfully against the malign phenomena of an earlier age, piracy and slavery.

“Or you can stick your head in the sand and paint a burqa on your butt. But they’ll blow it up anyway.”

Enough said.