Redneck Sterrotypes

One of those odd paradoxes I find really interesting in politics is when, under the cover of “understanding” demographical groups, we create really stereotyped caricatures of them. So while pundits wonder if women will vote for Obama, or if they’re too angry about Hillary losing and will vote for McCain, I see a stereotype that women are too emotional/irrational to accept some sort of defeat and move on to take the best available. Or, in other words, I don’t buy for a minute that women who voted for Hillary Clinton in large part because of policy ideas are going to vote for the candidate who opposes more or less everything Clinton presented instead of the candidate who has very small substantive differences with their candidate of choice, because I don’t think there’s any real need to question whether women are as rational as everyone else. They are. So in that sense, I don’t understand for a minute these ideas that Obama can’t do “too good” in Europe:

This is the first election in memory when a small crowd is better than a large one, a passionate crowd inferior to a bored one, where drawing a million people in Berlin is less likely to be compared with Ronald Reagan or John F. Kennedy but to Hitler Youth chanting “Sieg heil!”

Following Hillary Clinton‘s successful tack, Senator John McCain has picked up the theme that there’s something sinister in Barack Obama‘s appeal. Some in the media are buying it. All of us are repeating it. To give a rousing speech is to appeal to our basest instincts, an adoring crowd abroad the kiss of death. For all we know, there might be socialists or soccer hooligans among them. For sure, they’re foreigners.

By this standard, less — or rather fewer — is more. Dare to be boring in front of a monument that no one has seen before or will again. Assemble a sparse, tepid audience. Deflate it.

But it seems to me that most Americans like being the leader of the free world, and want to maintain American leadership around the globe. Even the right-wing fundamentally wants to keep things that way, they just seem to think we can lead by dictate as opposed to dealing diplomatically with other players. Also, there’s not really any fundamental dislike for Europe that actually exists. Was the right-wing mocking and disparaging the United Kingdom in 2003? Of course not, because they were on board with the US. They only belittled countries who didn’t agree with us over Iraq, but now more and more Americans are coming around to the idea that Iraq was a bad idea, or in other words, that “Europe” was right. Americans also increasingly favor further federal funding of education, universal healthcare, cap-and-trade or other emissions policies, and a whole host of policies pioneered, thus far, in Europe.

Now I suppose it wouldn’t be good for Obama to draw applause with something akin to saying that Europe was great and the United States sucked hard, but obviously that’s not going to happen. What you got in Berlin was Obama using American rhetoric talking about American global leadership on a host of issues important to the world abroad, and drawing huge applause from a crowd waving American flags. Americans want that kind og imagery again. We want to be the envy of the world, and to see those visuals of foreigners waving American flags and cheering American Presidents in their country. In short, we want to retain our leadership through admiration we’ve had since the Berlin Airlift. And while a certain amount of jingoism and xenophobia exists on the right, that’s an increasingly marginalized crowd who have been reduced to patently silly bouts of lashing out at National Review Online.