Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review June 18, 2001 / 28 Sivan, 5761

James Lileks

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Paining the egalitarian soul -- SOME Americans are just dreadfully worried about Europe's opinion of our leaders. Reagan embarassed them; every time he grinned and waved, the Europhiles cringed like teenaged girls whose dads have just driven up to school in a Pinto station wagon with a carhorn that plays "Dixie." Now Bush is off to mortify them again. News reports warned that he faced a tough crowd in Europe - why, according to the New York Times, anti-Bush sentiments throbs anew from Iberia to the Urals. Evidence:

1. A French televised puppet show has suggested he does not know the name of France's premier (which is, in case anyone asks, Petomaine Fromage)

2. A German newspaper has dubbed him "Bully Bush."

No! It can't be! Withering sobriquets from the Hun press! Ergo, the Times seems to suggest, the Bush administration should scrap plans for missile defense, sign Kyoto, reposition NATO as a book club and revive McVeigh to atone for our "barbaric" habit of painlessly dispatching child murderers. That's all. Then they'll be nice. Then they'll let us hang out with them, as long as we sit in the corner and don't interrupt when they're lecturing us on our imperialist sins.

Who cares what Europe thinks? Sure, they've had some high points; we can all thank them for the arts, the cheese, the nice paintings and the bleak movies that are really, really deep because they're all about, you know, death and chess and stuff. But we've no reason to feel insecure. They had Piaf; we had Billie Holliday. They have cathedrals; we have skyscrapers. (And cathedrals.) They have centuries of rule by inbred families; our aristocrats always peter out by the third generation. (e.g., the tertiary Kennedy lads, the Bush daughters, etc.) They came up with Marxism; we came up with Disneyism, which is more effective and considerably more entertaining.

Did the Romans go to the moon? Did the Medicis invent jazz? Yes, Monet was a great painter, but that was some time ago - what, exactly, has Europe done for the world in the last 100 years? Two hideous wars doesn't quite balance out Yves St. Laurent and the Beatles.

Yes, yes, how chauvinistically American, to use the utterly apt FRENCH word for inordinate devotion to a national cause. But it's fun to give them a ration of their own snooty bile - particularly when the European leaders act as if Bush is riding in on a bronco, shooting holes in the Gobelin tapestries and relieving himself in the fireplace. So why don't they like Bush?

Because they are Flaming Commies. Well, that's harsh. Smouldering Commies, then. Okay: warm glowing socialists. They seem to believe that America is a snarling laissez-feral nightmare where old people are regularly cleared from the factories by giant plows. We should be more like Europe, where taxes flay the rich to their ivory bones, and the entire economy is built around protecting 30 million workers and the 197 million bureaucrats who serve them.

The European unemployment rate is about twice that of the US, but that doesn't tell the whole story. European workers are showered with many fine benefits - 35 hour workweeks, four weeks vacation time in any month that contains a vowel, 18 years paid maternity leave. Naturally, this has the same effect on job creation as a bucket of cold water on mating cats. But it also means that the jobs Europeans don't have are so much better than the jobs the Yanks don't have.

Nevertheless, we're supposed to learn from them. Crushing taxes that eliminate jobs, penalize success, and make for a comfy dole. Health care for everyone, paid for by magic money-sprites that come in the night and leave pots of gold on the hospital steps! Mass transit! Lots of nuclear power! Smoking everywhere! Monolithic cultures based on language and tightly defined ethnic identities! Bloody wars with death camps, pogroms -

Wait a minute . . . okay, just the taxes and health care and choo-choo parts, then.

Bush will do fine. Just remember what's really bugging many American Europhiles: They can never be French or Italian. They're stuck here. Anyone can be an American. There's nothing exclusive about it - and oh, how that pains the egalitarian soul.

JWR contributor James Lileks is a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


06/01/01: One of the stranger indexes you'll ever hear about
05/21/01: One man's toke is another man's snort
05/08/01: Republicans want poisoned water
04/23/01: We bleat as we're sheared
04/10/01: Boys will be boys. And that's the problem
04/06/01: Pity the anti-American Left, they're gonna have a hard time on this one
03/26/01: You've been warned
03/16/01: The GOP's inexplicable desire to fold
02/23/01: Will the Jeb Bush administration attack Saddam in 2011?
02/09/01: In search of the the first ashtray thrown by a member of the First Family
02/06/01: Can you say 'Ayatollah Bush'?
01/24/01: The new Executive Orders
01/22/01: Hey, Dubya: Wanna save Ashcroft? Teach him to rap!
01/09/01: Bubba gets his last licks
01/05/01: The low-down on the coming recession (What those snooty economists won't tell you)
12/23/00: Memo to Dubya: Wanna show who is boss? Nuke 'em!
12/06/00: The Count of Carthage
At the Sore/Loserman Transition HQ
12/01/00: The Count of Carthage
11/28/00: Clinton knows history isn't written by the victors anymore
11/17/00: Chad's the word
11/08/00: The strangest political night
11/07/00: Get ready to return to the Dark Ages

© 2000, James Lileks