Friday, February 20, 2009

American Pols: Some Admired and Some Not

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about the reaction to some U.S. politicians I received from non-Americans on my recent train travels across Australia. Many were Australian, of course, but there were also Brits, Canadians, New Zealanders, a couple from Scotland, another from Norway, a Pakistani living in Singapore, and a woman from Estonia ... and a few more I've forgotten.

First of all, I was quite surprised to discover that most of these people were not only interested in American politics and government, but they were also quite well informed … at least as much, I would say, and many Americans.

Generally, President Barack Obama was considered very favorably, and people gave U.S. voters high marks for electing an African-American. I was quite surprised, by the way, to discover that several of my fellow passengers had read Obama’s first book, Dreams From My Father, and gave it very high marks.

Former President Bush, on the other hand, was not thought of very favorably, with the most common criticism being his apparent lack of both awareness of and interest in other countries and their cultures.

But the clear ‘winner’ in the Least-Admired-American Sweepstakes was Sarah Palin, with reactions ranging from hilarity to outrage … which was, I hastened to point out, pretty much the way 70 percent of Americans react to her.

One man, an attorney from the UK, said, “I thought it quite amazing that one of your entertainers used the silly woman’s very own words in a parody of her. I would imagine,” he added, “that you have seen the last of dear Mrs. Palin.”

With more than a little embarrassment, I informed him that Palin has formed an exploratory committee with an eye to 2012.

“Good God,” he said. “We shall have to share in some mutual commiseration over two stiff whiskeys.”

And we did.


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