No Beating around the Bush

politics, society

“The Bush polls have to be outrageously misleading. Someone suggested that most people called by pollsters simply hang up on them and wondered if there was a way to gauge their political views! I don’t know about that, but I can’t remember the last time I met anyone who can even stand the guy. Maybe I need to get out more. “
FarrFeed, July 29, 2002

I’m almost embarrassed to be letting my site get so blatantly political already, but the bluntness in the quote really resonated with me.

This is especially the case since during my recent vacation in Europe, I was on the receiving end of unbelievable amount of Bush-related teasing… and even more than that, Bush-related sympathy. People — some of whom I barely knew — seemed almost eager to offer me their condolences for living with Bush in the White House. “Aren’t you [Americans] angry about it? I mean, that he wasn’t really elected…?” is the sort of question I got more than once.

More than anything, my conversations with people from Paris to Tallinn (Estonia) confirmed my worst fears: In every conversation where the topic of Bush was brought up, it was made clear to me that Europeans think Bush is both an idiot and frustratingly an impediment towards world peace and understanding. So he’s not just seen as a clueless moron, but a dangerously obstructionist one.

I’m used to getting commentary on U.S. politics when I travel, since I was in Europe several times during Clinton’s, uh, escapades. But at least then, I got more jokes than sympathy about our American President. Since he famously “couldn’t keep his trousers zipped,” I think my European friends felt right at home, with the only difference between Clinton and their various leaders being that the prudish Americans were freaking out about his behavior. And on top of that, Clinton was viewed — by my European friends at least — as an undisciplined but at least highly intelligent and generally competent leader, especially in the sense of global awareness and understanding. He may have been distracted, but he wasn’t stupid.

If only we could say the same about our current leader.

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