Thursday, April 16, 2009

What Presidents Have to Do to Stay in Power

Hamid Karzai had to sign into law a provision that entitled Shia men to demand sex from their wives every four days - worse than under the Taliban, apparently.

President Obama had to sign over trillions to banks and insurance companies, instead of nationalizing them, after running on what many have called a populist platform.

In a related matter, young Afghani Shia women demonstrate in favor of the law, claiming they are only interested in the laws given by the Koran, not civil laws, even if the former are unfavorable to them.
Similarly, many Americans have allowed themselves to be convinced (because in both these cases we’re talking about brain-washing) that it’s better for them to have insurance companies profit while they receive mediocre health coverage, rather than have the government raise taxes, or lose their “freedom of choice”

This morning President Obama gave the first indication that he may slowly be finding his footing in this minefield: presenting his new plan for high speed rail, he emphasized that such projects have long existed IN OTHER COUNTRIES, ticking off Japan, France and Germany.  The President is well aware of American hypersensitivity to all things foreign - and were he not, the right never loses an opportunity to remind him of it.

But if he can bring up foreign successes in the areas of transportation without bringing the house down, he can do the same for health care.  Unlike the public at large, the President has at his fingertips a plethora of information as to how other countries ensure the health of their citizens.

Idea: Produce a TV series about Americans abroad who seem to go from one health mishap to another, showing how they are cared for.

And while we’re on the subject of us versus them, consider this:  Europeans require a special permit to own a gun - usually a hunting rifle, hence their homicide rate is lower than ours.  On the other hand, they don’t need to have enshrined in their constitutions the notion that when government abuse of citizens reaches an intolerable level, it should be replaced. Without guns, they put their feet where their mouth is. They get out on the street and stay there until government gets the message.  Ironically, Americans are allowed to have guns but demonstrations are stigmatized as “mob rule”.

As President Obama heads to his first Latin American summit, he’ll probably get an earful from his counterparts about the availability of guns in the United States that plays such a big part in Mexico’s drug crisis.  He’ll be reminded that Chileans, Argentineans, Bolivians, Venezuelans, to name only some, have not needed American help to become democratic.  And hopefully he’ll ignore the right-wing CNN commentator’s description of Latin America’s agena for climate change and social justice as “lefty”, holding his crooked fingers above his ears.

One of the left’s major projects has to be surgically separating the equation of “foreign” with “bad”, a first step in removing our blanket fear of Otherness.

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely! When did "foreign" become "bad" anyway? I don't remember that when I was a child (except for the thought that "Made in Japan" meant lesser-quality items). Is this another throwback to the Reagan years?

    I've always admired the demonstrations in the streets in other Europe but never carried the thought through to the gun/constitution issue. Truly amazing.