Yesterday I was commenting that the big reason the rest of the world doesn't understand America is that they (like us) believe what they see on television. And what do they see on television? American escapist entertainment, peopled by characters who never existed and never could.
As I was sitting stunned today over how many page hits I've gotten from that (thanks, Steve and Glenn! I wish I could return the favor), I was thinking that the point probably deserves more exploration than I gave it...
...and it hit me. Epiphany from a cathode ray tube. Now I understand. Silly me, I was thinking "Friends" and "Survivor", but those are too new. America's image problems are far older than that. Now I know who they think we are.
The Beverly Hillbillies.
We tripped over an oil well and fell into a mansion. Such wealth and power as we have, we have by accident, and we are largely uncomprehending of it. The best that can be said of us is that we are well-intentioned.
In the Bush family's case, they may even think it's literally true. Certainly our domestic Democrats appear to think so: They have expressed their opinion of George W.'s intellect in terms that suggest he might have a tough time keeping up with Jethro Bodine.
There's the evil Republican banker, Milburn Drysdale (can anyone doubt he is a Republican?) scheming to retain control of the Clampetts' money. And the dour Democrat, Jane Hathaway, Drysdale's sounding board and conscience.
Hm. This is getting a little too close for comfort. I need to go relax by the cee-ment pond.