Was This Townhall Thing a Mistake?

Mind if I go on a rant for a second? Wel,l it doesn't really matter if you do or don't because anyone answering no can't enter the site. What? Typepad doesn't have a screening system? Well fuck this, I'm not doing the blog then. Why should I? I'm leader of the free world, in case you didn't notice.

Only...I'm not like the leaders you remember. I'm not a great mind like Clinton or Wilson. Not a spectacular speaker like Reagan. Not an old hand like my father. In fact, sometimes I fear I'm just a little man in a big flight suit, and all the padding on the planet can't protect me from an impromptu query. That, for those wondering, is why I'm canceling the centerpiece of my trip in Germany, because they won't allow my staff to screen the questions before I take them. When I billed it as an "American-style" townhall, it seems I didn't really explain what American style is.

American style, in some ways, is a lot like Cuban style. Or North Korean style. It shares some threads with Russian and Iranian style too. And they say I'm not multilateral? Look at all I learn from other cultures! American style, now, is a style of intellectual cowardice, of fear. It's the style of a small man in tall shoes afraid of being knocked down. Let me let you in on a secret -- America, now, is an emperor aware his clothes are invisible. When my team can control the venue, the media, we can work the lighting and stage props to obscure my nudity. But without the magic and mirrors, the gig is up. But it's always been that way, really. People think I started this, but it's not true. Remember Reagan's helicopters keeping their blades rotating so the press couldn't ask him questions? Never hurt him, did it?

Something strange is happening, though. Schoolyard rules, oil field protocols, they're not really working. I mean, they work here, among Americans habituated to them. But overseas, across the world, they're doing me no good. They don't respect me, I can feel it. I figured I could snub the Germans and seem like a jock canceling on a lame party, but the papers are reporting it like a bully scared of a fight. When I took control of this country, I was told we could do anything. The military, the power -- so what the fuck has happened? I barely squeaked through the last election, this despite two dictatorial regimes toppled. We're floundering in Iraq, even my staff -- specifically told to keep the bad news at bay -- has been writing memos on it. I may not have gotten straight A's, but I know people, and I know when they're worried. And they are. What the hell's going on with China? When I came in here they were a threat, now people are saying I've made them more powerful? Japan is so scared they're begging us to flex over Taiwan? Chinese bankers are holding tons of our currency and sending it plummeting by publicly mocking the dollar's stability? It's the fucking dollar -- who cares what China thinks!?

I can't shake this though. My numbers are fine and it's not like I really care what the Europeans think, but, for some reason, they're making me feel weak because -- I can feel it! -- they just don't think we're strong. When I came into this office, I had no doubts about our power, our preeminence. I was helming the most powerful force the world had ever seen. And you know what? They knew it too. America could do no wrong, and, if they thought we did, it didn't matter; we led, they followed, and that was the order of things. It doesn't feel that way anymore. When I tell Rice to pull out of something or show disagreement, it doesn't send shockwaves or ripples. When I snub a townhall because they won't do it my way, they don't scramble to make it right, they laugh and leak to the papers. They're treating me like I was treating them. But I did that because they were weak.

Have I made us weak?

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