Thursday, December 1, 2011

As Others See Us

Here’s a view from Der Spiegel, the German weekly magazine, via Scott Horton at Harpers:

“Africa is a country. The Taliban rule in Libya. Muslims are terrorists. Immigrants are mostly criminals, Occupy Wall Street protesters are always dirty. And women who claim to have been sexually molested should kindly keep quiet.”

Welcome to the wonderful world of the Republican Party. Or rather: to the distorted world of its presidential campaign. For months it has coiled through the country like a traveling circus, from debate to debate, from scandal to scandal, contesting the mightiest office in the world — and nothing is ever too unfathomable for them… These eight presidential wannabes are happy enough not only to demolish their own reputations but also that of their party, the once worthy party of Abraham Lincoln. They are also ruining the reputation of the United States.

They lie, deceive, scuffle and speak every manner of idiocy. And they expose a political, economic, geographic and historical ignorance compared to which George W. Bush sounds like a scholar. Even the party’s boosters are horrified by the spectacle…

Platitudes in lieu of programs: in serious times that demand the smartest, these clowns offer blather that is an insult to the intelligence of all Americans. But as with all freak shows, it would be impossible without a stage, the U.S. media, which has been neutered by the demands of political correctness, and a welcoming audience, a party base that seems to have been lobotomized overnight. Notwithstanding the subterranean depths of the primary process, the press and broadcasters proclaim one clown after the next to be the new frontrunner, in predictable news cycles of forty-five days.

We Americans tend to think that what goes on here in this country doesn’t get noticed elsewhere. Our antics and sideshows are for our own amusement, and if someone from next door or across the street sees it, well, so what?

Yeah, except that we’ve also spent the last sixty years or so fashioning ourselves as the beacon of truth, justice, and white bread: hey, world, do as we say, buy our stuff, and convert to Jesus-freakery or … well, nice country you’ve got here; it’d be a real shame if someone came in and threw out your government or took away your “foreign aid.”

And in those sixty years, some of those countries have learned from us and now share the stage as business partners and, more importantly, creditors. It does matter to some degree what we do and who we elect to run the place because — brace yourself — we’re not the only country on the planet. So it might be worth our while to consider who we put up as our presidential candidates because one of them might actually have to deal with the Germans and the French and the Chinese and the Koreans, and it would be a good idea if they didn’t think they were dealing with a clown.

HT to Booman Tribune.