Maybe it’s just my perception, but it seems to me that there’s been a certain sneering tone to the coverage about Bush’s visit to the Albanians — along the lines of “can you believe that those primitive yahoos admire President Bush (guffaw!!)?” Here’s part of the WaPo story, via the SF Chron:
Evidence of Albania’s love for the United States lined the road leading into this capital Sunday. U.S. and Albanian flags flew from lampposts. People wearing cardboard Uncle Sam hats milled in the streets. Oversize billboards and banners heralded the American president’s visit.
“Albania welcomes President Bush,” some of the signs announced. Others proclaimed he was “making history” as the first U.S. president to set foot in the country.
Throughout much of Europe — particularly in France and Germany — a Bush visit is frequently seen as cause for protest.
But in this former communist nation, Bush was accorded a hero’s welcome. He was awarded the Order of the Flag medal, the nation’s highest honor. His visage is on a new line of commemorative postage stamps, and the street in front of the parliament building has been renamed in his honor.
“I’m pleased that George Bush has arrived here in Albania,” said Anisa Torozi, 27, an unemployed office worker who carried a small U.S. flag in this city’s central Skanderbeg Square. “He is the president of the United States, which is the state of liberty and peace.”
It was the type of reception any president would like. But it must have been especially heartening for Bush, whose vow to foster liberty around the world has faced repeated setbacks in Iraq and elsewhere, and triggered an anti-American backlash in many places.
Thousands of protesters shadowed Bush during the German and Italian legs of his seven-country swing through Europe, but none of that was evident here.
Military cannons blasted a 21-gun salute as Bush’s motorcade arrived at the Palace of Brigades, the 1930s-era building that was once the home of King Zog, who reigned before World War II. Later, at a news conference, Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha hailed Bush as “the greatest and most distinguished guest we have ever had in all times.”
Bush returned the love — or some of it. He repeated his public endorsement of Albania’s bid to join NATO.
He also reiterated his support for the independence of Kosovo, a Serbian province under U.N. supervision. Ethnic Albanians make up the vast majority of Kosovo’s population.
“At some point in time, sooner rather than later, you’ve got to say: Enough’s enough — Kosovo is independent,” Bush said.
Responding to a reporter’s question in Rome on Saturday, Bush had said a deadline should be set for a U.N. resolution on Kosovo’s independence. “In terms of the deadline, there needs to be one,” he said. “This needs to come — this needs to happen.”
Asked Sunday about when he would like that deadline set, Bush seemed flummoxed. “I don’t think I called for a deadline,” he said. Told that he had, Bush responded, “I did? What exactly did I say? I said ‘deadline’? OK, yes, then I meant what I said.”
I’ve actually been thinking a lot about President Bush’s supporters. Not the old white shoe conservatives who are rather nastily spoofed in a Washington Mutual TV commercial I saw the other day, which has herds of exceptionally ugly old white banker types corralled all over the place, protesting all the myriad benefits WaMu gives its checking customers, benefits touted by a handsome, hip, young black man. You can just see the advertising minds behind that one thinking about tapping into all of the Obama supporters out there, by distinguishing them from their monied white oppressors.
Nope, I’m talking about some of the less expected Bush supporters: the Czechs, the Albanians, the Angela Merkels, the Nicholas Sarkozys, the Ayaan Hirsi Alis, and the Neocons. What all of these people have in common is that they’ve either been complicit in or victims of Communism or Socialism or some other statist ideology (such as Islam, which is statism decked out in religious trappings). People who have lived in and looked into those totalitarian abysses love Bush. They have no truck with the Soros, and Chomskys and Ward Churchills, and even the Hillarys, Obamas and Edwards, of this world, all of whom, in one form or another, and dressed up in pretty language, would like to recreate a United States in which the government, not the citizen, is dominant. And as I’ve pointed out time and time again, governments are utterly without conscience and will invariably end up destroying their citizenries to maintain the power of those who have risen up inside the government bureaucracy.
Bush currently stands as the antithesis and enemy of Leftism, Islamism and other forms of fascism (despite the fake cries of outrage about his daring to be a committed Christian). And I say that despite the fact that, sadly, he’s been a sort of blank check conservative, who has never met a cause at which he hasn’t thrown taxpayer money. He may be a spendthrift, but he’s still someone who believes in basic principles of individual and market freedom, and who stands as a bulwark against fascism, whether it’s dressed up as old-fashioned Communism, or medieval (or, some might say, new fashioned) Islamism.
So, next time you meet someone who sneers as a Michael Medved or a David Horowitz or an Albanian, ask them if they’ve ever considered why people who have been up close and person to the Communist ideal have turned upon it with such vehemence, and why they believe that the world’s salvation lies with a man (Bush) and a party (Republicans), both of which, despite their manifest frailties, nevertheless take a firm stand against dictatorships ranging from North Korea, to Putin’s Russia, to Chavez’s Venezuela, and to most of the governments in the Middle East.
UPDATE: After writing the above, I read FrontPage Magazine’s interview with Angela McGlowan, whose book Bamboozled: How Americans are being Exploited by the Lies of the Liberal Agenda, has just been published. The introductory paragraphs of that interview are yet another reminder that Bush/Republican supporters aren’t mindless white shoe hacks, they’re people who have seen the other side and recoiled in disgust:
FP: What inspired you to write this book?
McGlowan: Well, like most black Americans, I grew up thinking I was supposed to be a Democrat. It wasn’t even something you questioned or thought twice about. Black equaled Democrat. Then after graduating from college I moved to Washington, DC, and began meeting prominent liberals and Democrats up close and personal. And that’s when I had an epiphany of sorts; I realized that the values my mother and father had instilled in me were 180 degrees removed from the policies and passions of the Democrat Party. I came to realize that I, and the 90 percent of black Americans who vote Democrat, had been Bamboozled.