This is Just. So. Embarrassing. If there is anything less attractive than the anti-American streak in our national character — a trait made worse, one suspects, for our neighbours’ sunny indifference to our seething — it is our tendency to prostrate ourselves before American celebrities. And they don’t get any more celebritous than Barack Obama. Okay, I get that he’s a likeable fellow. He avoids excessive partisanship, he comes across as thoughtful and decent, he connects with people — yes to all that.
But people, really: camping out at 4:30 in the morning on Parliament Hill for five seconds of waving from behind plexiglas two hundred yards away (and five seconds longer, at that, than scheduled)? Hours and hours of television coverage given over to a few brief clips of the President a) landing, b) walking with the Governor General, c) sitting with the Governor General, d) flashing by in his motorcade, and e) walking, sitting and standing with the Prime Minister?
Have we all taken leave of our senses? The CBC interviewed some lunatic woman who gravely informed us that, with the election of Barack Obama, she now knew that “everything was going to be okay.” A sign in the crowd read “First God, then Obama,” which was positively restrained compared to some of the comments one overheard. And I don’t just mean from the reporters.
Today in a class about the secular age, we discussed John Ralston Saul's loathing of what he calls the elites. So certain he was that his readers would know what he is talking about that he didn't even bother to define what exactly he meant by "elites". So I asked: What does he mean by "elites"? The mangerial class, I was told, the rich, the Wall Street bankers.
So why, I asked, when Obama was running for president, did people accuse him of being an elitist? Isn't the term "elite" usually reserved for academics and other intellectuals?
In the States, someone said, they set the bar on intellectuals very low. You only need a college degree to qualify as an intellectual elitist.It was not a useful answer, meant as is obvious, to denigrate American intellectual levels but it does serve as a good example of what Coyne describes as the "less attractive ... anti-American streak in our national character".
I often wonder what causes this perpetual state of simmering agitation, always at the ready to overflow with contempt towards Americans.