Friday, June 5, 2009

Obama Observations: or the Private Political Frustration of an American in Europe

My entire life (admittedly much of it spent outside the United States) I have never had a President come to my town. Now that I live in a relatively small German city, I have. Ironic on many levels. When I shared that observation with a German woman last night she remarked, “Well, at least you never had George Bush come to your town. Who would want that?”

It is hard to decide what is worse. In the past, whenever your nationality was discovered, a part of that entailed donning an appropriately sheepish look and semi-apologizing that your country had imposed the evil that was “W” on the world. That is the way he was perceived in Europe at least. OK, maybe he wasn’t “Hitler-evil,” but it was understood… he was evil. Now, when people discover you are American, the first reaction you get is a huge smile and a pat on the back. Suddenly our country has supplied the world with a savior. It is nice to be liked, but one wonders how long the honeymoon phase will last in the world before people realize that not much concrete has changed. The economy has not healed, the perceived climate disaster is still there, and the world is not yet one big happy family.

Regardless, Germans LOVE Obama. Here in Dresden, they are extremely disappointed that they don’t get to see him and touch him while he is here. People drove in from all around to participate in the “Welcome, Mr. President” party, even though he was (A) not even in town yet, (B) not going to make an appearance, and (C) going to remain hunkered within a cordoned off section of downtown closed off to everyone else. People here think of him as one of the “truly great ones.” They all hope he gets to govern long enough to bring about all the changes he needs to. The implied (and sometimes spoken) idea there is that often the “great ones” aren’t allowed to live long; they really do fear the worst.

The frustration is the extremism of opinion. As the most influential nation on earth, we don’t have the luxury of being just another country. It was the same under Bill Clinton. Everyone in the world feels like they should have a say in how America runs its affairs. They really do think they should have had a say in the last American election and, for once, they at least got their way. When it comes to their country and politics, however, America should butt out. Agreed, and it would be nice if that understanding went both ways.

Finally, Bush and Obama are just two men trying to do what they think is right. Neither of them is evil. At most they may be misguided or mistaken. Enough of this “Bush is the devil” and “Obama is the savior,” please!

4 comments:

  1. I'm hearin ya with the honeymoon - still waiting for the first bad press to hit

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  2. I wish he was y'alls president instead of ours. I cringe every time I see him! Maybe because I never got to vote and feel a little cheated. Although I don't know if I would have been any happier is the vote had gone the other way either. I wish i could just be indifferent and not care at all, but I worry about what my kids will inherit.

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  3. Thanks a lot man! I will definitely go through your Acts blogs!

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  4. I heard a woman on the radio yesterday reading a quote of O's. She heard him say this during the campaign and wrote it down, she was so astonished and wanted to keep it in case he won so that she could see if he really meant it. She was making the point that, unfortunately, he is keeping his promise. Obama: We live in the greatest country the world has ever known. I hope you'll join with me help me change it!" Crowd roars in acceptance and support.

    ReplyDelete

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