Sunday, November 30, 2008

From the shrine, let's move to Kirribilli House, where Kevin Rudd interrupted a party one night last month to take a call from George W. Bush. Out of this call a yarn was spun and spooled out to a journalist. The gist of the story is that Rudd had to persuade Bush that, to deal with the global financial crisis, he had to call together the G20 group of nations, to which Bush responded: "What's the G20?"

Let's accept Rudd's denial that he leaked this conversation, and White House denials that Bush said the words attributed to him. Instead, ponder the purpose of the person who decided to spread the story.

It shows Rudd putting an American in his place — a profoundly ignorant American, who obviously didn't know what he was talking about. Typical Yank.

When it comes to Americans, we are well-balanced, with chips on both shoulders. Left and right, we resent them because we depend on them, because we're junior alliance partners. We mock them because they, unlike us, are boastful, brash, crass, and ignorant of the world. We accuse them of racism. Yet we consume their culture, movies, TV, books, music, fashions and ideas. We ape their accents. Our anti-American left adopts their styles of protest.

So now that we don't have George W. Bush to kick around anymore, how do we sustain our consoling prejudices? It's going to be tricky, with an African-American in the White House. He's educated, articulate, inspiring. Maybe he's tough, too, this son of multi-racial parents with family and personal links scattered across the globe. Typical Yank.
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