Friday, May 28, 2010

“Badmouthing America” and the Ghost of General Patton

Last year, President Barack Obama commented that the Chinese had an excellent rail system, as indeed they do. I understand that some Chinese trains can average 160 miles an hour. Some of President Obama’s harshest critics responded to that assertion by accusing Obama of “badmouthing America.” When I read those comments, I had, metaphorically speaking, a visit from the ghost of General George Patton. Patton hated Communism and had absolutely no use for anything connected with the Soviet Union. It occurred to me that if, in May of 1944, Patton had had a chance to compare the US Army’s Sherman Tank with the 75mm gunwith the Soviet’s T-34/85, which featured a heavier gun, thicker armor and better cross-country speed, I have no doubt that he would have moved heaven and earth to get his troops the superior model of tank.

And if someone had accused him of “badmouthing America” by striving to get his men the best possible equipment, I had no doubt that Patton would have beaten them bloody with his ivory-handled pistols and put one of his black leather riding boots up their backside.

By the same token, last week, I heard Chris Matthews of MSNBC interview a right-wing pundit who pointed out that, at present, America gets only 20% of its electric energy from nuclear power, while the French get 80% of theirs from nuclear power plants. That strikes me as an excellent question and I’ve never heard anyone on the left respond to it.

Chris Matthews laughed out loud and said in so many words, “You people don’t get to say anything about France. You people won’t even eat French Fries.” I was disgusted. Personally, I have never met anyone who has stopped eating French fries because of antipathy toward the French. (To my collaborator, who is obsessed with Rush Limbaugh, I would say on that occasion that Limbaugh was every bit as bad as Matthews’ worst.)

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