I was brought up admiring the United States. Just one of those things that we inherited in the UK immediately after World War 11. Nothing to do with your Constitution or with your damn stupid sports (although you were a hell of a fine bunch of golfers and could run faster than the wind).
My personal admiration grew when I started working in industry. You knew how to run a business. You had an inherent sense of what made it tick, what was needed to make a profit. You understood the need for growth, the importance of profit to generate it and the simple creed that surrounded chasing the buck. I worked with you, learnt in your business institutions and shed much of the historical British baggage that made us believe that a mere 8% return on investment was real achievement.
Yes, in my world you were all big swinging dicks, to use the phrase beloved of those who work in your financial markets.
Not that "my world" is a very admirable one. Nor does it have much loyalty. Some of that admiration switched when we saw the rising generation of Japanese manufacturers invent new approaches and successfully challenge you in your own markets. Then came the others and suddenly the world has become full of people good at chasing the yen, the rupee or the yuan
Ah, but dammit, you are still good. Ask any Republican that and he will tell you. I’ve played golf on one of your lesser courses with a bunch of businessmen trying to make a living off the failing West Virginia coal industry and still been given the hype that the inherent great American knowhow will solve it all in the end. If I wanted to keep the round of golf friendly, it was not something about which I would demur. Already three down after just eight holes, what position was I in to question the certainty?
I wasn’t playing golf when I listened to Petreaus last week, so I didn’t keep quiet. Nor did I when I let out such a loud groan listening to Bush later that Sally the Psycho Dog shot off the sofa with an expression of startled fear that usually only comes after the first clap of sudden thunder on a humid summer evening.
After my initial reaction had subsided, I realised that there was no way of talking to these people in rational terms nor to the thirty per cent who still supported them out of the fifty per cent who had put them back into office. No way of challenging their hubris.
I’ve been there, done that. I worked for a US company that had worldwide sales growing at 25% per annum. In huge markets; huge and profitable markets. I heard the guys talk about that fact they would take over the world at that rate. We were high, stoned out of our senses on the size of what was being achieved. Suggesting that such growth was unsustainable would have pushed me to the backwoods of corporate oblivion. Why would I want to do that – I mean I even felt my own dick was enlarged and swinging more freely by being part of it all.
No, there is not much point in telling people that they won’t succeed when they are convinced that they will. There is not much point in telling such people that they are misreading all the signals and can’t see the truth that is just round the corner. You either sound like a pussy or will be made to sound like one.
Nor is there much point in telling everyone that the goals that they have been working for are the wrong goals. Immoral goals and financially ruinous goals. It is the wrong language. Edwards uses it, Obama uses it. Electorally, it is a disastrous. Hillary largely avoids it.
In the nation that invented an admiration for big swinging dicks, you win by showing you are even a bigger swinging dick. Electors vote for you if you convince them that you can achieve more and better than the other guy. It doesn’t come through protest or finely wrought critiques in the op-ed pages of the NYT on what has gone wrong. Calls for impeachment are not the cry that destroys these guys. The driving home of the charge of utter incompetence does. Incompetence is a damn un-American activity. I believe that; it is time more of the electorate did. Because we are so angry and disgusted we forget this simple political truth. It is time we laughed at the size of their penises.
And when you do, I shall continue to admire the United States.