Friday, February 6, 2009

What Some of the Rest of the World Thinks

I have spent the past three days crossing the continent of Australia on the Indian Pacific, a train that makes the journey between Sydney and Perth twice weekly in each direction.

As with any long distance train ride, much of what's most interesting about the experience is meeting different people over meals in the dining car. Most of my fellow passengers on this train were not Americans. There were Australians, of course, plus New Zealanders, Brits, a Danish couple, some Canadians, a Indian who lives in Singapore, and other non-Yanks, I'm sure, whom I simply didn't get a chance to meet.

Barack Obama was the hot topic of conversation, but most of these folks also had opinions to offer on George W. Bush. I must tell you that among the non-Americans I met, the man is universally scorned. What seemed to bother them most is their common perception that W had little understanding or appreciation for anything not American.

"You know," said a 50ish woman from New Zealand, "the man never seemed to grasp that people in other parts of the world occasionally have ideas worth considering."

These folks think Barack Obama shows some real promise and are feeling a lot better about us Americans now.

"I can't understand," said a retired farmer from Queensland, "how you people can elect a man like George Bush, then turn right around and elect Obama."

I was trying to think of a response when he added, "But it looks like you got it right this time." And he insisted on buying me a beer.


1 comment:

Susan Och said...

I'd have said, "we don't quite believe it, either."