Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Advice to Americans in Europe: Try not to giggle

Bush is on his way to Europe and much ink is being used by the writing class, trying to figure out what is going to happen, how he will be received, what will this subtle French phrase will mean, and so on. Dull reading and not helpful. They are missing the important things. I guess it’s too much to hope that the Europeans don’t read this hillarious piece by Mark Steyn, for the jig will be up for sure. And yet, it won’t matter because they don’t listen and there isn’t much they can do about it anyway. A Europe that makes no difference to anything important is just fine by us, says Steyn. He’s right. Steyn is a great writer. He is clear, very clear, and while talking about the most important things--even earth shaking things--he makes you laugh. How does he do that? Most people who write don’t listen and don’t observe. Steyn does both. When you write you have to listen and see and write down what you hear and see. Nothing more. My father, who never wrote anything, taught me to see things. We would be walking down the street and he’d ask me how many people just walked passed us. He would then ask me describe them. We would walk into a room and after leaving it he asked me to describe in detail and tell me how the room felt. It should feel the same to him, as to me, he said, if I described it correctly. It did. When I was about eighteen and working as a waiter he told me to hug a customer as she was leaving (she hugged everyone, but I always withdrew). She had been a famous actress in her youth and very pretty, and still was at age sixty. I asked him why I should do this. Because it is an experience you should have, he said. So I let her hug me. I almost fainted. He asked me what it was like. I said it was like touching a hot stove. Exactly, that’s why I only hugged her just once, he said. So Steyn, in laying something out so precisely is doing nothing more than listening to Chirac, Schroeder, Bush, and Rumsfeld. And he is funny because they are funny. We just missed it because we are trying to impose our dull sobriety on their words and actions. Read it and laugh.

Discussions - 2 Comments

Peter, no wonder I suck at writing. That’s a great insight into what makes a good writer a good writer. And what a great thing for a father to teach his son. Our dads seem to get smarter as the years go by.

Europe has tighter money, at least in theory...notice how a lot of the problems between nations in the EU involve the rate at which they are allowed to inflate the currency. When Europeans and Americans discuss things the unstated concerns are the relation between the Euro and the Dollar. The real reason France and Germany didn’t go to Iraq is that they can’t afford it, and even if they could have they benefited from the old status quo. The Europeans have put military concerns behind them, they are essentially isolationist...they have to be in order to fund what they prioritize namely the nany state, environmentalism ext... Some Europeans dislike the war in Iraq because it has resulted from U.S. deficit spending...which has driven the dollar down against the Euro making exports from those nations to us more expensive, at a time when unemployment in those nations is still high. Bottom line: The Europeans and americans have different spending priorities, and the European states have less flexibility in funding them.

I don’t think the EU will collapse in the next 10 years, but like the United States eventually things are going to have to tighten up even more on a fiscal front.

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