With the advent of President Bush’s visit to Great Britain I ran across this clever blog by the British Spin Doctor giving a typically British view on the festivities. It occurred to me that my fellow blogcritics would enjoy this article as much as I did. So here it is in its entirety (with permission from the author of course).
“What a to-do. George W. Bush, (who is, alert readers will gather, apparently the President of something called “the United States of America”) is coming to stay and the country is up in arms. Pundits are scribbling frantically across the country and your humble correspondent is never one to ignore trends that are sweeping the nation. I have hula-hooped, I have body-popped, I have shoe gazed. I am therefore admirably qualified to comment on the geo-political and domestic implications of Mr Bush’s trip to London.
The first thing to tell our American readers is that we are just as prejudiced about you as the French, though slightly less ideologically. In our minds, you are either movie stars, or fatso’s gorging hamburgers and fries. There is no middle ground. Sure, we might occasionally bump into a slim American, but they are watched with a kindly interest, as one would gaze at a laboratory hamster, to see whether they will start scoffing burgers or taking leads in west end musicals. There is no other foreseeable outcome.
This binary approach to the US citizen explains why Elvis is still the most popular American in British history. He was both a movie star and a burger-gurgler. He encapsulated all our beliefs about America in one XXL sized rhinestone jumpsuit.
So, you can now understand our confused reaction to your politicians. Sure, Presidents have all the appurtenances of a top flight movie star; the private jet, the blacked out limo, the burly guards, the diva attitude, but not to put too fine a point on it, they couldn’t gross a hundred million on opening weekend if their lives depended on it. So what to make of them?
President Clinton was welcomed with open arms. Here was a man who fit our stereotypes of the nice American. He was clever, but brash and definitely a burger guzzler. He looked like a fellow who enjoyed a KFC. He didn’t seem to cause too much trouble. He didn’t want us to go to war with Russia or Vietnam or any other country where men with bombs lurked. He seemed unlikely to unleash nuclear warheads at anyone. On top of all of this, he very generously opened his private life to the delectation of the Tabloids just when we’d got a bit bored of Charles and Diana.
President Bush had a tough act to follow and suffers from a few disadvantages of his own. First, he appears to be a Christian of the televangelist school. Nothing dismays an Englishman more than an openly declared love of God. This goes back to the 16th century, when after decades of religious persecution, with vicars constantly making with the stakes and the burnings, the torments and the heresies, the nation exhaled a big sigh of relief when Queen Elizabeth declared she did not want to make a window into men’s souls, or even if she did, she’d be jolly upset if there wasn’t a nice net curtain blocking the view. Ever since then, our attitude to religion has been governed by the ancient motto to be found in houses across Britain. “No salesmen, no canvassers, no circulars, no Hawkers”.
Secondly, Mr Bush seems to very much enjoy bombing people and making with the wrath and the vengeance. This offends our sense of fair play.
A clarification here, the vaunted sense of British fair play means fair play just for the British. When ruling the world, we were entirely justified in sending gun ships up Chinese rivers to support the opium trade and would have very miffed if some Yankee upstart had been going around shouting “no blood for dope” at Disraeli. Burger-scoffing surrender baboons in the war against yellowism, John Bull would have said. Jingoism? We invented it.
Mr Bush on the other hand seems to believe in fair play just for the Americans, which is very disturbing and amoral. He has the guns, he has the men, he has the money too. His desire to use them strikes us as forward. Typically American we sigh, always showing off about his F-18’s, his Apache strike helicopters and battlefield nuke capability. So lacking in reticence.
If Bush must use his overwhelming military might, could he not at least look a bit embarrassed about it? “Oh, what’s this?” he might say to the putative dictator, “the Sixth fleet?, gosh. Who would have thought. Sixth? Isn’t five enough? I’m terribly sorry about this, but I’ve got nowhere else to put it, so it’s going to have to be outside your capital. I hope you’re not too put out by the ten capital ships, air capability greater than your entire Air force, 200 nuclear warheads and 25 support ships, and I promise we’ll try not to make too much noise over your presidential palace when testing our computer controlled cruise missiles. Amazing thingummies, these missiles. Apparently, accurate to within 10 meters, so rest easy, it should be fairly simple to avoid having it slam into your bedroom, old boy”
Of course, people very much disagree with Mr Bush on issues of substance. I myself would happily demonstrate against him on the basis that he has piled idiocy upon idiocy since his correct decision to depose Saddam Hussein and seems committed to adding a few more idiocies to the ever-growing pile. These are topics for another time. On matters of style at least, If he was a little less, well, how to say this? A little less American. Perhaps, a little more…
It would be so much easier. We’d even forgive him for the cowboy boots.”