I couldn't not share Thomas Friedman's fabulous op-ed from the 11/30 New York Times. (The link came into my email box today, so I'm passing it along.)
Friedman imagines what the staff of the Chinese embassy writes home about America. Some of the highlights:
There is a willful self-destructiveness in the air here as if America has all the time and money in the world for petty politics. They fight over things like â€” we are not making this up â€” how and where an airport security officer can touch them. They are fighting â€” we are happy to report â€” over the latest nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia. It seems as if the Republicans are so interested in weakening President Obama that they are going to scuttle a treaty that would have fostered closer U.S.-Russian cooperation on issues like Iran. And since anything that brings Russia and America closer could end up isolating us, we are grateful to Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona for putting our interests ahead of Americaâ€™s...
We have a joke in the embassy: â€œWhen someone calls you from China today it sounds like they are next door. And when someone calls you from next door in America, it sounds like they are calling from China!â€ Those of us who worked in Chinaâ€™s embassy in Zambia often note that Africaâ€™s cellphone service was better than Americaâ€™s.
But the Americans are oblivious. They travel abroad so rarely that they donâ€™t see how far they are falling behind. Which is why we at the embassy find it funny that Americans are now fighting over how â€œexceptionalâ€ they are. Once again, we are not making this up. On the front page of The Washington Post on Monday there was an article noting that Republicans Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee are denouncing Obama for denying â€œAmerican exceptionalism.â€ The Americans have replaced working to be exceptional with talking about how exceptional they still are. They donâ€™t seem to understand that you canâ€™t declare yourself â€œexceptional,â€ only others can bestow that adjective upon you.
Funny -- and sobering -- article. I highly recommend it.