Yankee Doodle Banana

September 2, 2008

It’s tricky being an American outside the U.S.

It’s not just the taxman you can’t hide from — your native land really is the focus of global attention.

american.jpgWhether it’s the economy, global warming or some other guy’s fight, the U.S. is sometimes a model to follow but more often gets the blame.

I am rarely credited with superhuman intelligence and strength (even my daughter is a skeptic) but my country is.

I for one have long argued American power is significantly less than what it’s perceived to be. But you just can’t escape it.

CIA agents descend from the sky and implant things in people, America has an earthquake machine and the Gujarat riots went according to a Washington plan.

Maybe people like to think someone, somewhere is in charge. But reality ain’t nowhere near as slick: Iraq and Afghanistan have been quagmires, Hurricane Katrina killed more than a thousand (thankfully not repeated by Gustav), and the mortgage backed loans crisis has written off years of global growth.

So much for total control.

It’s always been clear to me the U.S. is run by humans as fallible as the next guy. So could this weekend’s strange turn of events in U.S. Republican politics be the nail in the coffin for America’s image as a semi-responsible democracy.

How to make sense of it? Here in India tolerance for drama runs high (think MPs waving cash in parliament) – many friends and colleagues look away from India’s vibrant politics hoping for a glimpse of something more serious, something more effective, outside.

Sarah PalinBut scripted drama is not for India alone. Alaska Governor Sarah Palin , politician, reformer, and now mom of a soon-to-be teenage mom is running for the U.S. Vice Presidency.

That means Palin, who has apparently “never really thought of running for office” becomes president if John McCain falls ill, dies or gets killed (remember he is 72 and has had cancer).

No small job for someone with just two years experience as governor of a state (yes, neither is being a mom to 5 kids!) Maybe she really is up to it. And perhaps Palin could become America’s Mayawati, delivering Republicans an entire caste of working mothers?

Regardless, McCain’s choice offers a fascinating peek at his thinking – the attempted message looks like “I am a maverick” but the real one may be “I am desperate” – actually seeking the votes of disaffected Hillary supporters.

Is McCain that afraid of Obama? Whatever the case, despite promises from both sides to stick to the issues (remember, the economy? global warming? war in Iraq?) this Presidential election now seems on cue to follow a reality TV script.

Is this election, as Woody Allen said in his 1971 comedy about a banana republic (“Bananas”), becoming “a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham”? We welcome your views.


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well said mr beitchman… “CIA agents descend from the sky and implant things in people, America has an earthquake machine and the Gujarat riots went according to a Washington plan., why the hell not? By this, US is going the India way and I am loving it.

Rock on Gregory!

Posted by Does it matter | Report as abusive

Are you a CIA honey trap??

Posted by Madhav | Report as abusive

With just two years experience as Governor of a state…interesting comment. How does that stack up with Obama, who has two and half years experience as a Senator? I guess being a Senator is thoroughly more challenging than being a Governor. Barack must have to manage a staff of like..10? I don’t even know what a Governor does, but it can’t be as hard as being a Senator right?? Is that your logic, Gregory?

As for being a mother of 5. Its so sweet your care about the welfare of her childern. So, do you not care that Obama won’t be around for his two kids? Isn’t that a sad case that they won’t grow up with a father around? Isn’t that just so typical…a black man abandoning his kids?

According to Gregory, if I can follow his logic…Senators have vastly more experience than Governors and people with kids should not run for President (unless they are male, and perhaps a Democrat).

Posted by tom | Report as abusive

Thank you Greg! As a west coast American (there is a difference) I can say without hesitation that your analysis of our political conundrum is correct. The paradigm shift from democracy to corporate idiocracy has been brilliantly orchestrated by the latter at the expense of the former. Many of us who are now experiencing an overwhelming sense of impotence can only hope to find a new sanctuary on a distant shore.

To your pervious blogger, it’s the quality, not the quantity of a father’s (or mother’s) time. Experience is something that starts at birth and is built upon each day. As an adult, we are the sum of those days no matter what position we hold or area we live in. That’s what makes us who we are, what we think, what we choose and what we value. Dead Caribou? Yummy! Oh, one more thing,. As a former Hillary supporter, how dare anyone think that I would through my bonnet in the ring of any bimbette presented to me just because she’s a she. No one knows better, the shortcomings and fallibilities of a woman than one who is one. But these are desparate times so let the games begin!

Posted by LA Lady | Report as abusive

McCain and Palin are dead ducks. As is Obama and his running mate. They are PUPPETS.

Palin is anti gay hates all gays. The gays will vote against McCain and Palin.

Obama’s Running mate is a Zionist. Both of the candidates are for more Wars. Neither will pull troops out of Iraq. If anything they will send more troops in.

Bush will Invade Russia or Iran before he comes out of office.

Posted by Linda | Report as abusive

This harping about Obama’s lack of experience is a non starter. He knows how many houses he has, how much money he has, and that the so-called politicians with years of experience have managed to put the United States, and the rest of the world in the worst shape since Atilla the Hun jumped on a horse, unless of course you like the humor of reality t.v….

Posted by Harlan Goodman | Report as abusive

problem- those fallible folks running the show are caught in the same trap….they believe they are infallible and thus are unaware of their own fallibility- hence the cycle continues…. the art of misdirection is alive and well in America…. see the comments above

Posted by your lil bro | Report as abusive

As someone that actually lives in the State of Illinois. I can honestly say that Obama has done nothing for us! The only legislature that he ever got passed or introduced was handed to him. About 99% of the time he only votes present, that way he can flip to what ever side of the aisle that is popular @ the time.

Posted by Bert | Report as abusive

I agree that either of the candidates would be puppets. But I prefer an Obama puppet to a full-on hawk like McCain with his whole 1950’s cold war attitude about foreign policy. This election will change little of what needs to be changed in the U.S. at best, but it is a choice between a sleeker, sexier way of dominating the world to our benefit or the old bulldozer, dinosauric approach that has gotten us so far these last 8 years.
Then again, maybe it is time to move overseas…

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive