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Columns

February 8, 2014

The world must think we're nuts

Full disclosure here: I have not surveyed the views of every one of the nearly 7 billion people on Earth who do not live in the United States. Still I feel on solid ground when I submit that the rest of the world must surely believe that Americans are crazy.

Oobatz … meshugah … totally nuts.

I am not referring here to the wackos who might spend a winter’s afternoon climbing flagpoles in only their (or someone else’s) underwear. Presumably every country has its share of those flamboyant loonies.

Rather, I am talking about the great mass of so-called normal people in this country whose mores and laws must certainly be giving the rest of the planet the heebie-jeebies.

For instance, every year whoever happens to be the president of the United States gives a speech in which not only the state of the union is discussed, but also the state of the entire world. The most powerful person in the most powerful economic and military nation is setting out an agenda that will likely affect everybody’s lives.

You would think that everybody would want to know then what’s coming down the pike.

Well … not so fast.

On Jan. 28, about 33.3 million Americans watched President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

Five days later, about 111.5 million Americans watched the Super Bowl.

(OK, I was one of them, but goldarnit, I watched the speech, too.)

More than three times as many people caring more about a football game than the future of their country? Surely, foreigners must wonder about that.

During the game, Coca-Cola presented a commercial in which “America the Beautiful” was sung in several languages, and a gay couple is seen for a few seconds roller-skating with their daughter.

Those across the seas who might have seen the reaction of some far-right conservative bloggers and media to that commercial would likely see straitjackets for use in the United States as a wise investment. They probably could not fathom why the Coke ad was somehow unpatriotic.

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