Sunday, September 14, 2008

Polish kings, American presidents?


A slightly bizarre article by Polish born American Henryk A. Kowalczyk (not the PiS MP) ponders: which foreigner would be best suited to become US president?

He thinks either Tony Blair or ex-finance minister and early-1990s “Mr. Shock” therapist Leszek Balcerowicz would be good choices...bizarrely.

He starts off claiming some similarity of Polish kings to US presidents. The similarities being - firstly the kings, like presidents, were elected (though the electorate was rather small in the case of Poland) and that the end results of the ballot could be a little messy.

Slightly tenuous link, Henryk, but never mind.

But his main point is that foreigners could be elected as kings of Poland - several were. But in US elections every one in six living in the US are not eligible for the top job. Maybe that is why the usual calibre of entrants is so poor?

So he comes up with a few names who would be good as foreign presidents. UK ex-prime minister Blair he chooses because - bizarrely - he:

…is already deeply involved in the Middle Eastern mess, and he was clever enough to have already started pulling British forces from Iraq. This indicates that, as president, he would get us out of Iraq as soon as achievable, and with as little humiliation as possible.

Oh, and…

Blair reformed UK immigration policy by managing increased legal immigration and keeping illegal immigration at about 0.7 percent of the population (compared with at least 4 percent in the U.S.). We need someone who can do the same here. Additionally, Blair worked on reforming the government-run National Health Service by promoting the increased role of the private sector. In the United States, we might need some government involvement in reforming our privately run health care system. Blair sounds like the most qualified man for this job.

So Blair should be US president for his record on Iraq, immigration and the health service!? I don’t think you would get a single British person anywhere to agree on all three…or even one or two, of those.

And Balcerowicz? US president? Yup!

His "shock therapy" converted the completely disintegrated Polish economy of the socialist era into a halfway decent market-driven system. Balcerowicz grew up and received his education in a socialist country, but gradually matured to understand and value the benefits of the free market.

Um…

On a side note: I wonder which Polish king George W. Bush would fancy himself as? Probably Jan Sobieski (1674-1696), who won - helped win - the Battle of Vienna (an event the city of Krakow is celebrating this weekend) which “saved Europe” from the evil Turkish/Islamic empire. But maybe readers can come up with other monarchical role models for Poland’s King George W. the First. Poniatiowski? Nah…

Two tribes go to war

The electability of a foreigner in the US would be dependant on how he or she could come to be seen as part of the correct lifestyle tribe. These days, elections are not really about policy at all. This election is as much about lifestyle as politics.

Recent research shows that Americans are increasingly choosing the location of where they live on the basis of their political allegiance - Red or Blue. There are now almost consciously created Democrat zones and Republican parts of town.

Each sees the other group as if they came from Mars or Venus. Do you eat organic or spend Sunday morning at the Evangelical church? Do you prefer cats as pets (then you are a Democrat) or are you more likely to own a dog (then welcome to the GOP). The Economist writes:


Over time, this means Americans are ever less exposed to contrary views. In a book called “Hearing the Other Side”, Diana Mutz of the University of Pennsylvania crunched survey data from 12 countries and found that Americans were the least likely of all to talk about politics with those who disagreed with them.

Lifestyle as a definition of ‘politics’ could be seen by the nomination of Sarah Palin as McCain’s vice-presidential candidate, and the so-called ‘liberal’ reaction that came after.

Palin, though a pro-life, gun owning, God fearing Good Conservative, was conspicuously quiet on these issues in her acceptance speech. She seemed to be going out of the way not to say anything too political. She didn’t need to preach to the converted on those issues in the Republican electoral base. And she didn’t want to scare away too many of Hilary Clinton’s disaffected female supporters. This was the Republican version of ’identity politics’: “Vote for me…I am woman!”

And the liberal reaction to her shock candidature was anything but political. This was a middle class elite showing its disgust for her and her lifestyle. She is a gun-toting, hockey-mom redneck; she dared have a child in early middle age!! She returned to work after only a few days after giving birth…!

And remember - these are not conservative critics , they are the Huffington-ites of this world.

So could a foreigner immediately identify, and be identified, with one of these tribes? Blair? He maybe is a ‘liberal’ and is at ease with the Clinton tribe. But he is also a war-monger and supporter of the neo-con project of bombing democracy into the Middle East and elsewhere.

Maybe Balcerowicz would understand a little easier. There are some similarities between Poland and the US in this regard. Poles have always thought tribally - most urbanites have little in common with small town or rural folk. They vote differently on that basis. The Kaczynskis, despite being from Warsaw and qualified lawyers, like to make a show of their ordinariness, their non-cosmopolitan-ness - Jaroslaw’s favourite food is not oyster but scrambled eggs. Both twins like to make it known that they are not too keen on foreign travel - much as Sarah Palin has done.

However, in Poland, things are different. There is not the physical separation of the different tribes. Communist housing policy mixed everyone up. New areas are emerging and transforming, but the majority still live all jumbled up together.

And anyway, Poland is a thousand tribes, and the US just two, with a few sub-tribes thrown in for good measure. It maybe is easier to rule a country with a social complexion of just two lifestyle groups, but the presidential elections are precious little to do with politics and a whole lot more about snobbery - inverted or otherwise. This is one development that Poland should not import. We may as well go back to Poland's feudal kings.

17 comments:

ge'ez said...

While u r right about the lifestyle divide, I think the "liberal" criticism has been more about her hypocrisy than her decision to run for VP. To be fair, you shouldn't just take this or that criticism out of the wider context.

At the same time, you and spikey guy fail to mention that the most recent addition to the Palin family has Down's Syndrome.

It is somewhat funny that the right is now defending Palin's choice to devote more time to the campaign than the 5 month old baby with Down's Syndrome.

Strange, too, when there are more than enough video clips of right wingy dingy mediaistas criticising other mothers for being "pinheads" and responsible for letting their teenage daughters get knocked up.

But after coming home from one of my critters' soccer game, er match, today here in Rustbelt white suburban America, it hit me than Obama has no chance of winning. The loudmouth dumbass white pitbulls with lipstick ain't gonna vote for Obama no how no way.

But don't try to hand me any bullshit about how elitist I am in my characterization of such women when I live in a working class urban white ethic neighborhood. I am not anything close to a jet-setty Huffingtonite.

YouNotSneaky! said...

"But maybe readers can come up with other monarchical role models for Poland’s King George W. the First. "

Easy.
George Bush Sr. = August II
George W. Bush = August III

Anonymous said...

"And the liberal reaction to her shock candidature was anything but political. ... She is a gun-toting, hockey-mom redneck; she dared have a child in early middle age!! She returned to work after only a few days after giving birth…!"

Gun ownership and parental leave _are _ political issues. I haven't seen any criticism of her for having children but I suppose if you go looking for something to outrage you you'll find it.

beatroot said...

...the most recent addition to the Palin family has Down's Syndrome.

You see! Gun totting redneck gives birth to disabled child because she was SO SELFISH THAT SHE RISKED GIVING A KID DOWNS SYNDROME...

So says the liberals...

Puke.

ge'ez said...

No, no, no. That's you saying that, not anyone I've come across from anyside of the political spectrum. So you are covered with your own puke. Yuckey.

Really, back up your contention with a direct quote by a "liberal" criticizing just on the basis of her having decided to birth the baby.

Indeed, I certainly don't think it was selfish that she opted to have the child, but rather the opposite.

The point made by many of all political persuansions is that a five month old baby with Down's Syndrome needs a lot of a mother's attention.

jannowak57 said...

ge'ez said... “Obama has no chance of winning. The loudmouth dumbass white pitbulls with lipstick ain't gonna vote for Obama no how no way.”

What percentage of your black hating trailer trash are going to actually vote anyway?

Obama is going to loose because he’s Obama; he could have won this hands down if he had the common sense to study the American voter a bit more closely. Love them or hate them the republicans know how to win an election therefore they understand the mentality of the American voter.

Obama’s pluses are being articulate, intelligent and media presentable. The man’s primetime ready.

Obamas negatives are:

-didn’t serve in the military
-long-term connections to the lunatic fringe (his reverend and church are killing him)
-leaning too far to the left for mainstream acceptance

Race will always be part of an American election but theses day not necessarily the deciding factor. The Republicans have fielded a very weak team and have to work with the George Bush track record. Had Obama understood the voting public better he would have prepared himself for this day better. If he went into this election with a modest military record, kept his distance from the lunatic fringe and took a more middle of the road position he would be unstoppable today.

ge'ez said...

Well, thanks for this smidgeon of hope anyway: "What percentage of your black hating trailer trash are going to actually vote anyway?"

But they ain't trailer trash. They are mainstream suburbanoids.

This election is going to come down to race and gender. The strangest thing is that the right wing and liberal media refuses to even consider the former. And the overbearing pukey emphasis on the latter benefits the Right Wing this time around thanks to the unleashing of the Palinist element. The right doesn't bring up race because they they don't want to stir up black folks too much and the liberals because they don't want to stir up white antagonism any more. Yinny-Yangy balance, I guess.

beatroot said...

You just said it geez:

The point made by many of all political persuansions is that a five month old baby with Down's Syndrome needs a lot of a mother's attention.

It's like Rosie the Rivetor all over again. Five month babies - ALL five month old babies - need a lot of care, as I am sure you remember, Geez. But nowhere in mainstream post natal literature does it say that it must be the mother who is there all the time during the day. They just say that constant care is needed from a carer.

To imply that SHE should be there and that SHE is a bad mother for going back to work is back to the 1950s. Now I understand conservatives thinking that, but it just shows you how reactionary liberals are these days that they join in the bleating chorus.

And here is why Obama might not win. Forget, just for a moment, the degenerate personality/lifestyle politics for maybe a fraction of a second, just for once. The Democrats may not win because they have given up trying to inspire the masses (that they hate) with some ideas....they, and the republicans are exhausted...the Party is over. So we retreat back into our "boo hoo" she should stay at home gibberish.

If the Dems can;t win this election - with the republicans obviously exposed as a bunch of losers...then they never will.

beatroot said...

And Sneaky - appreciate the Augustus dynasty thing - nice one! (and wasn’t August II a twat!) but who is waiting in the wings for the Poniatowski coup d├ętat…?

beatroot said...
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beatroot said...

Both II and III were twats, of course...

ge'ez said...

You made the point that "liberals" are saying she was selfish to have had the baby.

You're inference is clearly that they are saying that she should have aborted.

Again, I chalenge you to find such a quote.

And I'm one of those folks who believe that a mother's care is needed, not just a caretaker's care, especially with a Down's Syndrome baby. Sounds like you are perfectly content like shipping kids of all stripes off to the state nursery so they can be properly educated from a young age.

And Palin is not a typical working class mother who is struggling to make ends meet. Yet you cast her in that light. Such tripe!

Anonymous said...

Oops

Hi Beat

Great you are back - have missed you!!

And someone said 'Palin is not a typical working class mother who is struggling to make ends meet. Yet you cast her in that light. Such tripe!'

Am still playing catch up here - been to Canada for 3 weeks - a lot of coverage out there if Paiin - I think? they they think? she will be the catalyst?

Issie x

YouNotSneaky! said...

August II started off well meaning but couldn't get stuff right - not entirely his fault either. August III was much more of a twat.

beatroot said...
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beatroot said...
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beatroot said...

Hi Issie.

Yeah, August II had a 'good first half, then fell away towards full time. A bit like Bush I then...