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Posted: 10/28/2004 7:44:45 PM EST
Source

The Secret Weapon

In my normal life, I work on in a team of engineers that are based all over the globe, in point of fact, I am one of only two Americans in my little group. The result of this situation is I'm often asked to help translate the nature of American life to my co-workers.

While Americans are often accused of being ignorant of the rest of the world, I'm hear to tell you that the rest of the world doesn't know a thing about America or Americans. This is in spite of how we spew our culture over the world like an open and out of control 5 inch firehose. What most of the world actually knows about America and Americans could fit into a small monkeys fist.

In the three years since I joined this team, we've covered items from "pick up trucks", homebuilt aircraft to gun ownership. But the one thing that most of the Euros and the Asia Pacific folks dont get is:

George W. Bush.

Well, for that matter the whole method and practice of Governance in the United States is a mystery to the people of the world. I get quiet exasperated trying to explain "separation of powers', 'federal vs. state powers' and 'constitutional law'. The idea that our system of government is designed to ensure that it doesnt work very well, is simply beyond them. When I explain that the "Bill Of Rights" does not in fact give you any rights, but actually limits the powers of government, that all rights are believed to be yours to begin with and that most of what the constitution does is limit, form and shape government, and that it does not actually say in any explicit language " you have this right or that one". It does tell every one "government can go this far and no further" on a number of subjects.

I also tell them if you want to start a fight between any two random Americans, just propose to them that you want to change the Constitution, and then stand back. All Americans feel the Constitution is theirs. To Americans, the cornerstone of our law is more akin to deed of trust than a holy tract.

Most of the Euros expect that the office of the President is like a "Super-Prime-Minister". When I explain that the President is just the president, and he is only the executive officer of one of the three branches of government and very often the legislative branch is under the control of the party in opposition to the Presidents party, they think I must be kidding.

Divided Government, an American Practice and Tradition for over 200 years, but a complete mystery to the rest of the world.

When I explain that the President gets to propose a budget, but congress actually sets the bill into being, but then the President still has to sign the budget into law, they are stunned. When I explain that the President can talk foreign policy and treaty law all he wants with the leaders of the world but the Senate still has to ratify all treaties, they dont know what to say.

"Wait! - The President can send the Secretary of State over to sign a peace treaty and the senate might NOT ratify it"?

Sure. No problem.

Well, that doesnt work very well.

That's precisely why it was designed that way. It takes a tremendous amount of collaboration, cooperation and concession to get anything done at all in the United States. On the whole, Americans would prefer that nothing get done slowly over something bad getting done quickly.

I recently had someone get "red faced furious" at President Bush and his not signing the Kyoto Treaty. When I explained that President Bush could sign on tommorrow and nothing would change, as the Senate is unlikely to ratify the treaty in any form, no matter how its presented. The Senate had already voted down the treaty 98-0 once before. This person simply didn't believe me, I then asked them why then didn't President Clinton sign on to Kyoto if it were so easy? He of course, didnt have an answer. He has always been told it was Only Bush that was stopping it. When I told him that it was actually American voters who had largely stopped Kyoto, he simply could not understand how it was so, and yet, it clearly was.

Americans might be largely from Europe, but Americans are not European. We have a very different way of looking at the world. In this one example we see a very clear difference between European thinking and American thinking.

All children in America are raised with a lesson that is based on a well intentioned myth, but it is but one of many small things that binds us together and yet makes us different from Europeans.

All American are all raised with the idea that:

"Someday kid, you too could grow up to be the President of the United States".

We are told tales of the Great President Lincoln and how he was raised in a log cabin, but grew to become one of our greatest presidents and a truly great man. We are told of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and how he was not stopped by being infirmed by polio to be one of the greatest men of all time. We are all raised to believe that we too could be President. I dont think I've ever hear a European tell me that when they were a kid they were told:

"Someday Son, you too can grow up to be Prime Minister!"

One of the unintended consequences of this myth is to make every American look at the person who is President or the person who wants to be President, and then ask themselves:

"Does this guy think he's better than me"?

Americans don't believe that there is a class of people who should lead them. Americans infact tend to loathe and despise any person who feels that they "Deserve to be in charge!". We dont see a "lord and master" or messiah in the office of President, we see a man, someone who's just like us, even when nothing could be further from the truth, thats what we like to see. That's what we want to see. When Military leaders of aplomb run for President, like Macarthur or more recently Wesley Clark, we give them the look askance and know that no matter how qualified they might be as executive officers, the basic fact exists that any man who wants to be President had better be "one of us" and thus their lofty ambitions are defeated, not by great armies, but by the coffee klatches of the Iowa caucuses and the snows of New Hampshire primaries. With only very rare exceptions, Generals are simply not "one of us". For some reason I cant yet fathom, Admirals are never in the running at all for President, either they are just smarter than Generals or they dont like the cut in pay and lack of status that will come with the step down from being an Admiral to becoming the President. It is a mystery.

Americans also don't look to long term political life as an example of a good potential Presidental resume as much as we see someone who may have feathered their nest at the cost of the taxpayer. With the exception of the Kennedy family, Americans dont trust the "Family Business' approach to politics as the Bush Brothers have found. The Kennedys are a true phenomenon that oddly proves my point as Kennedys are a family who, while rich, are also a members of a once persecuted religious minority who did not always enjoy the freedoms that they do today. It was the Kennedy family ascendance that brought an end to so much anti-catholic attitudes in the United States, as a result you could also say that Kennedys were also "one of us", even though they were in a very rarified part of the "wealth pyramid". No matter where they came from they always made sure to make it about "us" and not "them". I think their familiy business franchise is on hard times as of late, but I dont think that should take away from some of the truly great things they did in the past.

Americans will give the President a great deal of freedom to do his job, so long as the President is perceived as being not on "his side", but on "our side". By most measures of success to modern presidencies, FDR cannot be seen as a wholly successful as he presided over one of the worst situations any President has ever seen. He was accused of trying to pack the Supreme Court, which had he been perceived as doing it for any other reason than what he felt was best for the country, he would have been out of office within 90 days. The economic situation was probably made worse by many of his policies, but he was forgiven by Americans because throughout the nightmare of the Great Depression because he was clearly doing it for no other reason that to try to make things better. FDR provided a beacon of guidance and leadership in an otherwise horribly dark time. If it were up to todays 'green eye shades" metrics like job reports and deficits, FDR would not have survived 18 months as President. He survived and in some ways thrived, until he died in office in 1945. If he had lived, I have no doubt he could have run and won a 5th Term in 1948. He was always optimistic and spoke only of Americas greatness, not its failures. In FDRs day the theme music for his party was "Happy Days are Here Again", todays Democrat party is "Up Against the Wall Redneck M**F**cker!" , and yet they wonder why they keep losing prominence in elections.

FDR is not considered a 'Great Man' and a 'Great President' for what he did for himself, He is considered a 'Great President' for providing leadership and direction at a dark time in the nations history. Americans respect a leader, even when things are going badly for the man and for the nation. Lincoln presided over the bloodiest war in the nations history, one that he personally had a great deal to do with the war getting started. The south seceeded largely as a result of Lincoln becoming President. The Civil War was horribly managed and could have been over much sooner had it been under better management by a more capable executive. It wasnt untill the Civil War was nearly over, that the people who elected him for his first term begin to think of him as a truly great President.

When people talk about Americans today not being loved in the world, I often remind myself that there was a time when Americans did not even love themselves.

Americans will on occasion take risks with their choice of who should be President. We accept amateurs to the office of President, such as Ulysses S. Grant, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower. If fact, most presidents have very little politcal life prior to becoming President, On average, 10 years of public service.

In modern times, Bill Clinton survived challenge after challenge largely because of nothing else except the good will of a majority of Americans. He was always perceived to be "just one of us".

Which brings us back to "Our Boy George..."

Americans tend not to give you too much credit if your daddy is is a "great man" and we dont hold it too much against you if he was a failure (Clinton)as we are all aware that no one gets to pick their parents or family ( Roger Clinton/ Billy Carter, the list goes on...). No matter where you are from and no matter what advantages or disadvantages you have, Americans want to know that you have done something significant and "on your own". We also accept people to the Presidency who have been failures ( Grant, Truman and yes, George W. Bush ) but we have no tolerance for negativity and defeatism (Carter).

The Secret Weapon of George W. Bush is that he has successfully made himself into being seen as one of us. We see a man who on September 11th had one thing that FDR did not have, a video camera in his face looking for any sign of human weakness. What that camera captured was a man who reacted calmly and effectively in the face of an unspeakable horror. In that few minutes in Florida, he had no way of knowing that this was just a couple of aircraft or that there werent 100 more on their way to hit every major city. He had no way of knowing if it was being done in concert with Chinese Nuclear submarines just off the coast, ready to launch missles to decapitate his government and this great nation. None of us knew. A certain porcine filmmaker wants to make that moment into a moment of ridicule and derision, but what I see when I see that moment is a man, one of us, faced with a nation suddenly gone from peace to war in the blink of an eye, with an unknown and possibly very powerful enemy, looking back at an audience of children who until a moment before had all thought that all that would happen on that day is they would get to tell their parents they sat with the president at school. Instead, for the rest of their lives they will tell their families for generations to come that they were in the very room where the President was told that "We are at War".

We often think about that moment in terms of what the kids saw, but we dont stop to think about what the President saw on that day. He had no way of knowing if that particular classroom of children would be affected directly by the war that was now clearly underway. All those kids had dressed for school in peacetime, but before their lunch recess, they would be in wartime. This war would begin here and be fought here at home. For the first time in generations, America itself, had become a battlefield.

They sat their looking at him and he at them, and I know as a father myself, he looked at every one of those kids and said to himself "Oh good lord, they are all so young..."

He didnt panic, he didnt run out of the room, he didnt cry, and I'm sure he wanted to do all of those things. Instead, he patiently waited for the Secret Service to clear the route, excused himself politely and went about his job, mindful that how well he did it would be reflected in the eyes of those kids on that day.

He could have made the whole event about himself, but George knows that there are more important things in the world than his own ego. The most important things in the world, were in that class, looking right at him from their desks.

The Secret Weapon of George W. Bush is the nature of a guy who can laugh at himself and knows that his wife is really the better part of himself. The Secret Weapon of George W. Bush is a guy who knows himself well enough to know whats right and wrong without having to take a poll. The Secret Weapon of George W. Bush is the common sense to know that Terrorism is something to be ended, not tolerated as a nuisance.

In last Fridays debate, at the end of the debate the audience of 'undecided' voters , voted clearly their intent by walking to George W. Bush and his lovely wife Laura and waited to have their picture taken. The President and his wife were mobbed, while the other candidate was largely by himself.

The audience of the people of Missouri, simply felt they could walk up to have their hats and t-shirts signed and their hands shook by a guy named George.

Who just happened to be - The President of the United States.


Epilogue:

I've had the hardest time convincing the Euros how young most parts of the western US actually is. For example, they all know LA to be a big bustling city, hollywood and all that. When I tell then that before WWII, LA was a city of about a million people, they thought I was kidding. When I explained that it is extremely rare to find any structures in the LA area that are older than 50 years old, except for old spanish missions, they honestly thought I was joking. Where today you find a city that spreads nonstop from santa barbara to Irvine, 60 years ago, it was a small collection of very small towns at best.

They used to get after me about how Americans dont speak more than one language, until the discovered that I speak French, German and Spanish. Then they changedthe subject and say that as a rule, Americans don't speak but one language. I then ask them how far do they have travel to find people who speak a different language. Most said less than 200 miles.

I told them we could go from the arctic circle to miami and speak nothing but English as our primary language. The fact that many Americans have to travel over 1500 miles just to find someone who doesnt speak english, it was no longer a question of American ignorance that had to be understood, but question of scale and distance that had to be understood by the Europeans.

I tell them all the time that none of them understands anything about America until they rent a car in New York and then drive to LA by way of New Orleans or Chicago. They of course ask "why we dont have trains and mass transit", I tell them we do where population density is equivalent to the way it is in Europe, but out West of the mississippi, it just doesnt make sense, (thats why we invented the airplane)! When we have a single county in California that is bigger than Holland in terms of square miles, population, GDP, it helps put things in perspective for them. When I tell them that the NY Police Department has 40,000 police officers, 250 helicopters and 50 aircraft and 125 large boats which is almost bigger than the largest army in Europe or nearly all the rest, combined! they begin to understand the scale of what we have here in the US.

When they come to America, they come like most tourists, to the big city, they see the sights, but they rarely see America. All big cities the world over are the same, its the small towns and the edge of cities where you see the differences in any part of the world. If you come to America and you havent driven for 3 hours in a straight line and not had a car pass you in either direction, you didnt really get to see the place.

When they get mad at me just for being an American, I ask them if they think we all just sprouted from the ground. They ask me "why dont Amerincas care what the world thinks?"

I then tell them the truth that the dont want to hear:

"Americans share two universal traits. First, all Americans are exiles of some sort, we are all run out, chased out, thrown out, burned out or sold out of all the other countries in the world. No American is in America because things were working well for them in the places they were from. Talk to an American long enough, and you'll always find the scalawag who escaped from the noose back in county cork, or the ancestor of the kid who was on the run from conscription in Bismarcks Germany and never saw his family again, you'll find people who are descended from people who were burned from their homes in during a progrom in Minsk, or survivors of the Armenian Genocide in Turkey. For most of us, America wasnt our first choice as much as it was our last chance.

Second, Americans share one thing in common with each other that no other person in the world can understand. While the rest of the world goes to bed at night saying "Well if things get really bad, I can always go to the States..." As Americans, we know that we have nowhere else to go. If we dont make it here, there is no where else we can go, and few places that will accept us even if we wanted to go. If America were to fall, we all know that we would not be welcome anywhere else. That, is why we fight so hard, that is why we still hold onto our patriotism and faith whem most of the world has thrown theirs away.

All Americans are enfranchised citizens, not subjects to a crown or property to a Lord. All Americans are co-owners in the greatest enterprise and longest running experiment in liberty the world has ever known. All Americans are my brothers under the flag.

I once had a guy from England tell me that what made his country great was how no matter how long I lived in England, I could never be English, but that he could come to the States and be an American right away. I told him he got it the wrong way around, that what he said is precisely why America is a great and growing country and his is not and will never be as long as he held that attitude.

That is something that no member of the European Union can ever understand.

Posted @ October 11, 2004 08:24 PM | Election 2004
Link Posted: 10/28/2004 7:46:30 PM EST
Remind me when I started caring about the rest of the world?
Link Posted: 10/28/2004 8:12:57 PM EST
Good read!
Link Posted: 10/28/2004 8:20:38 PM EST
Link Posted: 10/28/2004 8:58:54 PM EST
I hereby Double-Dog Dare you to post that on the DUmmies site.

Watch the hatred spew!
Link Posted: 10/28/2004 10:05:36 PM EST
great read, veeeerrryyy long, but a great read
Link Posted: 10/28/2004 10:20:26 PM EST
Wow, excellent read man! Thanks for posting.
Link Posted: 10/28/2004 10:37:16 PM EST
tag, great read!
Link Posted: 10/28/2004 10:38:01 PM EST
Excellent read. But you need not look all the way to Europe to find people with all those misconceptions about America. More than likely you can stand on the corner of any busy street and see hundreds of them.
Link Posted: 10/28/2004 10:45:57 PM EST
[Last Edit: 10/28/2004 10:46:25 PM EST by sherrick13]
Link Posted: 10/28/2004 10:53:35 PM EST
Hot damn that a good read! I'm tagging this one to show my old man.
Link Posted: 10/28/2004 11:14:18 PM EST
Good read...

NYPD vs France?

Anyone wanna take bets?
Link Posted: 10/29/2004 12:21:23 AM EST

Originally Posted By GiggleSmith:
I hereby Double-Dog Dare you to post that on the DUmmies site.

Watch the hatred spew!



+1 +1 +1 please I'd love to see the RATIONAL LIBERAL RESPONSE ( SARCASM)
Link Posted: 10/29/2004 3:57:06 AM EST
Bumped for the morning crew.
Link Posted: 10/29/2004 4:13:03 AM EST

Originally Posted By Dave_A:
Good read...

NYPD vs France?

Anyone wanna take bets?




Why send paid professionals? Lets do it like Amateur Athletics. Any regional ARFCOM shooters versus France.


(I got a Benjamin on us!)

Link Posted: 10/29/2004 4:25:29 AM EST
Link Posted: 10/29/2004 4:39:22 AM EST
I personally kind of like our conditioned attitude towards the rest of the world. Its swiftly become our way or they highway type mentality. The No Bull shit lets get this done and we don't care what the hell any other country has to say because we stick to our convictions and don't sway like a presidential candidate that comes to mind.

that was a damn good read!!
Link Posted: 10/29/2004 4:40:25 AM EST

Originally Posted By Dave_A:
Good read...

NYPD vs France?

Anyone wanna take bets?



Once they got done with shooting all the poodles it would be easy.
Link Posted: 10/29/2004 4:42:40 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/29/2004 4:49:56 AM EST by dablues]
Hmmm.....you must get your inspiration from the same places as me

www.jerrypournelle.com

that's where I first saw that link to http://varifrank.com/archives/2004/10/the_secret_weap.php


Two other places besides ar15.com, where I drop in everyday are

www.debka.com

and www.janesonline.com


Link Posted: 10/29/2004 5:01:54 AM EST
Some nut who goes by "Brisker" posted the link. I shouldn't stand for the blatant misuse of my good name.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=132x1211018
Link Posted: 10/29/2004 5:09:28 AM EST
It was forwarded to me via e-mail from a friend of the family.

He's always sending me stuff like this. One of the few conservatives in the SF Bay area.


Originally Posted By dablues:
Hmmm.....you must get your inspiration from the same places as me

www.jerrypournelle.com

that's where I first saw that link to http://varifrank.com/archives/2004/10/the_secret_weap.php


Two other places besides ar15.com, where I drop in everyday are

www.debka.com

and www.janesonline.com



Link Posted: 10/29/2004 5:17:25 AM EST

The Secret Weapon of George W. Bush is a guy who knows himself well enough to know whats right and wrong without having to take a poll.


This is why W beat Algore, and why W will win against Lurch...
Link Posted: 10/29/2004 5:22:12 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/29/2004 5:22:47 AM EST by the]
Good post. After reading the whole thing, I can say that much of what the author praises about the American mind no longer to applies to half of us.

The left desires to be European, here.
Link Posted: 10/29/2004 5:25:14 AM EST
Great read!!!!
Link Posted: 10/29/2004 5:32:19 AM EST
Part of the problem, Continental Europe is lagging behind the English speeking world and Asia in getting connected to the Internet.

Spreading the Internet will take the blinders off, just like it has undone the Lefts control of public opinion through the Major Media in this country.
Link Posted: 10/29/2004 5:33:11 AM EST

Originally Posted By Dave_A:
Good read...

NYPD vs France?

Anyone wanna take bets?




LOL, Brooklyn vs. France, anyone?


Awesome read, thanks for posting it.
Link Posted: 10/29/2004 5:36:02 AM EST
Yep, that's how it is.
Link Posted: 10/29/2004 5:40:41 AM EST
That was an excelenet read! Ops
Link Posted: 10/29/2004 5:50:12 AM EST
Very cool, I will be sharing.



96Ag
Link Posted: 10/29/2004 6:05:49 AM EST
Thank you. I'm sending this off to a few colleagues.

Back in my younger days working for a corporation; one of my cube mates was from India. Another co-worker, an African-American would always make fun of this guy telling him that he wasn't a American but an Indian. You never saw a guy defend himself that he was a "American" like my friend from India. It would make your proud. The black co-worker just didn't get it.
Link Posted: 10/29/2004 6:07:27 AM EST
HO...


LY....


SHIT!






DAMN! That's a good read!
Link Posted: 10/29/2004 6:10:36 AM EST
Tagged! Great Read
Link Posted: 10/29/2004 6:55:48 AM EST
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