The Olympics and how we're perceived abroad. Fair or not, a lot of foreigners do view us that way. I got a good chance to see it. Up close.
My wife and I hosted some international exchange students at our home this weekend.
One from Brazil, another from Russia and still another from Germany.
Don't get me wrong. They were all great kids: smart, gracious, even funny. But definitely all a little taken aback by all this gung-ho Americanism.
Not surprisingly, the Russian exchange student definitely "did" detect a western bias against her country at the Olympics.
The German student didn't like our obsession with beating Germany for the medal count. She was glad to see her country hold on to a one medal lead in the end.
Even the Brazilian felt that we, "get a little wild here."
I wondered listening to them if these were just their opinions or ones shared by their parents as well. Probably both.
We are not loved abroad and these kids made that painfully clear.
They like us and all that. And they couldn't be more cordial, but I think we bug them.
When I asked one of them about our terror campaign, the Russian girl all but said, enough already. "You can't keep attacking countries," she said.
The Brazilian agreed. "We feel for you," she said. "But it doesn't seem to stop."
And the German chided, "I think people in my country think your President Bush is a cowboy."
Now listen, I don't take anything away from these kids. They are where they are from. But I think it illustrates very clearly the up-hill battle we face in this country getting other countries to go along with our war on terror.
Some will be there. Most will not.
In the most polite, genteel way, these kids were saying what their parents are no doubt thinking: America, tread carefully, because you're bugging us.
I always suspected, save maybe England and Australia, that we were alone in this war.
Leave it to some well-meaning kids, to all but confirm it.
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