Monday, February 13, 2006

Bill Clinton, global superstar!

(Photo: my mom, following the Clinton trail)

Here’s a truism of contemporary travel: wherever you go, Bill Clinton has already been there.

On my recent trip to India, this maxim held true. On a quick visit to the sumptuous Oberoi Amarvilas in Agra, a palace of a hotel that is the spitting image of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, my mom and I ran into Bill’s smiling photo in the lobby. Bill’s photo also greeted us in Jaipur, Delhi and Bombay.

I’ve seen Bill Clinton’s photo in Hanoi, Shanghai and Istanbul. I’ve seen it in Moscow, Buenos Aires and Paris. He traveled a lot as president and he continues to do so, and wherever he goes the paparazzi are snapping away. He’s the global It-Boy.

Foreigners love Bill Clinton. From Amman to Zanzibar, mention his name and the locals smile. I have never heard a single person oversees say anything negative about him. Ever! He's basically our Gorbachev--revered abroad but not at home as a historic, powerful figure. What gives?

Why foreigners love Bill

People overseas like Clinton because he’s the face of a positive America. He's considered brilliant and powerful but also someone who actually cares about foreign people and foreign countries. He’s remembered in numerous countries (e.g. Ireland) as a peacemaker. And he knows his stuff—his view of the world marries business, economics, government, diplomacy and a clear understanding of global problems. He’s able to help businesspeople understand and contribute to the resolution of social problems, and he’s able to help government and nonprofit people understand the value of free-market economic growth. His speeches are filled with substance, rather than the tedious and often dangerous clichés of our current president.

From their somewhat distant vantage point, foreigners see the legacy and gifts of Bill Clinton a lot more clearly than most Americans do. Across the world, Bill Clinton lives!

An aside

A skinny teenager working at a tourist shop in Kerala inquired, “I must ask you one question: what do you think of George W. Bush?”

“I loathe him!” I responded, my arms flailing to convey my angst and frustration. “I can’t stand him. He’s awful.” I shuddered involuntarily, as we liberals often do nowadays.

The salesman’s eyes twinkled and he bobbed his head left and right. “Every American people coming here is saying same. Why then is he president?”

Why indeed. “Because all the people who vote for George W. Bush are the kind who never leave the country! Just as he never did before he was president!”

This just in...

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