Tell me if this has ever happened to you. You're at a cocktail party and everyone's pretty much making small talk. But then you catch a couple fighting. I mean really fighting. He's bad-mouthing her. She's bad-mouthing him. It gets very nasty and very unpleasant.

I always remember how Woody Allen dealt with that situation in a movie: he pretended to be a waiter, grabbed a tray and just walked out of the room. Hysterical. Only these things, when you witness them are not hysterical. They're actually said. And they make me nervous.

The way I figure it, couples at cocktail parties have a certain image to uphold. They are, after all, invited as a couple. So they must present a united front even if they're fighting like crazy right up until they get to the door.

Don't air your dirty laundry in public.

That's why I find it especially unseemly all this unpleasant stuff happening to George Bush while he's in Europe. No sooner had he touched down in Britain, Tom Daschle was attacking him on defense issues, on budget issues, on a whole bunch of issues. Richard Gephardt too. Even some Republicans, choosing to stall his faith based initiative in the House as he's half a world away at someone else's house.

Look, fights are fights. We all have them. I just think we should put a moratorium on them when we're at a public event, or in this case, when our leader is at a public event. I felt the exact same way when Republicans were ripping President Clinton's global lending initiative when he was trying to sell it to Europeans a couple of years ago.

My point is this: give the leader — our leader — his due. Hold off on the slingshots until he's back home. Europe already hates us. The French despise us. On almost every deal, they reject, condemn, or blast us. So let's not have us dividing us.

From now on, I want us to be like the fighting couple tearing each other's hair out right until they ring the bell. Then they hold hands — tightly — and move on.

Europe expects less. We should do more.

Common Sense Archive

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