Ruth Fremson NYT photo

Ten Things I Love About Americans
  1. They’re doers. When they’ve decided to do something, they do it. No pissing around. No foot-dragging.
  2. They’re honest. Straight goods. Face value.
  3. They’re friendly. They talk to strangers, and love to help.
  4. They’re risk-takers. No guts, no glory.
  5. They’re generous. They lend a hand, and they give a damn.
  6. They’re open-minded. They embrace new ideas. Only in America could a book called ‘If it ain’t broke, break it’ become a best-seller.
  7. They’re casual. Comfort trumps style. No pomposity, no obsession with image. No BCBG for them.
  8. They’re ambitious. They want to succeed, to make the world better.
  9. They’re idealistic. They think anything is possible. So it is.
  10. They’re responsible. They accept what they’ve done, for better and for worse. They’re full of pride and shame, and rarely blame others.
Ten Things I Hate About Bush
  1. He’s dishonest. Bare-faced liar and seemingly proud of it. Goes with #10.
  2. He’s ignorant. Can’t believe he went to Yale. Doesn’t understand history, culture, science or human nature.
  3. He’s inarticulate, to the point of incoherence. The guy with the finger on the button can’t utter a complete, clear English sentence. Very dangerous situation.
  4. He’s a coward. Won’t talk to people who disagree with him. Hides from news he doesn’t like. Can’t or won’t debate.
  5. He’s uncompromising and fixed in his thinking. Worse, he thinks that’s a good thing.
  6. He’s emotionally troubled. Look at his eyes. Watch the smirk when the stress is highest. Vonnegut was right. He’s a cauldron always on the edge of boiling over. Or blowing up. Scary in a president.
  7. He’s intemperate. He gets angry easily and holds long, irrational grudges, even according to his admirers.
  8. He’s ambitious. Yes, the same quality I love in Americans I hate in Bush. Partly because extreme power and extreme ambition are a deadly mix. Partly because Bush’s ambition is ruthless.
  9. He’s insensitive. He is surely aware of the massive suffering and damage his actions have caused worldwide, but he clearly doesn’t care; he can justify it in his own mind as a necessary consequence of his inviolable principles, ideology, dogma.
  10. He believes the end justifies the means. As did all the worst tyrants in history.

Some caveats on the above lists:

  • I’m Canadian, and many of the things on the left-hand list are virtues to most Canadians. In some other countries they’re not considered virtues at all.
  • The left-hand list is full of generalizations and there are, of course, many and highly-notable exceptions.
  • Because they’re so open, Americans are also easily manipulated and prone to irrational enthusiasms and unfair, even dangerous, over-reactions, so some of these lovable qualities are double-edged.
  • I find Americans fun-loving, and their best scientists and best artists are almost without peer, but I wasn’t sure how these attributes fit on the list. Besides, I had to limit it to 10. The rule of lists, you know.

Photo: Ruth Fremson/NYT taken at Walter Reed Army Medical Center

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23 Responses to TEN THINGS

  1. Rayne says:

    Thanks, neighbor, a boost when we’ve been pretty down on ourselves.Only issue I have: I think you give Bush too much credit; a number of points in your right column imply he’s capable of intellect. He’s not. He’s a meat puppet of the worst sort, the kind that can be manipulated by someone of much greater intellect and more sinister intent. That someone is Cheney, along with the support of his rogue cabal manning the office of the Vice-Presidency.

  2. Mike says:

    I’m not too worried about the nuclear button in his hands. Officers poised to launch nukes no doubt have strict protocols as to wording of launch orders, and that suggests coherent sentences, which contradicts your item 3.

  3. Chuck says:

    Bravo, Dave. Now I have eleven reasons to admire Canadians.

  4. O RLY YA RLY says:

    You know, I been wondering about those nukes…(warning: self-plug)

  5. Jon Husband says:

    Some days it’s hard to believe that we’re no living in a real-time sci-fi movie.

  6. Mary says:

    Thanks, Dave, very well put. I’m an ex-pat Wyoming woman and I appreciate a fellow Canuck taking the time to outline some of the better things about America/Americans. Great photo, too, inspiring in its simplicity.Bush is a frightening, and frightened little man. Nuff said I suppose.Take care,Mary

  7. Indigo Ocean says:

    Good list in general, but I have to absolutely argue with this point: “They accept what they’ve done, for better and for worse. They’re full of pride and shame, and rarely blame others.”If there is one thing I do not see in Americans at all it is the ability to admit when one is wrong and head in a new direction. Sure we’ll do it on minor points, and we’ll do it as the grand sweep of a nation, but for a republican to become a democrat is often seen as being insincere (e.g. Arianna Huffington, Wesley Clark). Look at Rush Limbaugh’s (and his fans’) flip on drug users now that he has become one. Before it was the liberals’ fault for being soft on users who needed tough punishment and now it is the liberals’ fault for being soft on prescription drug companies who need someone to prevent them from legally selling drugs that are addictive. It is always someone else’s fault and they are always the people who who are not a part of the identity group we have claimed as our own. This nation has yet to own up to the continuing effects of what it did and continues to do to the American Indians, what it did to African slaves and their descendants all the way through the Civil Rights period of the early ’70’s, our foreign policy of nuking the Japaneses when we did not need to in order to win the war, overthrowing the democratically elected Allende of Chile to install the puppet dictator Pinochet, and countless other atrocities of our history. For God’s sake, the south still teaches in its schools that the Civil War was not fought over slavery! And dare I leave out the Iraqi war which began as being about fighting terrorism and avenging the 9-11 victims by killing Osama bin Laden (who never had anything to do with Iraq) then moved on to being about WMD Saddam might share with Al Queida, then transitioned into freeing the Iraqi people, ridding the region of a dictator, and setting an example of a working democracy in the Middle East, and now is supposed to be about …? Oh Ican’t keep up with the lies, especially since I know it has always been about oil and rebuilding contracts for the presidents et al’s buddies and the exercise of might to shore up public support for a war-time president by keeping us visably at war. Its hard to build a patriotic moment out of following bank funds through the international financial system, though that has done far more to undermine terrorist operations than Gulf War II ever will. This is a country in such deep denial it is practically psychotic. Americans talk out of one side of their mouths, like the Batman villain called Two-Face. Except that it isn’t even just about talking, its about seeing too. We can’t seem to see what is right before our noses, so invested are we in maintaining the illusion of our goodness. Idealism is one thing, but when idealism so grips your self-concept that you can’t face the reality of your wickedness and change, you have become something quite dangerous.

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