Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The States' Ripples

**crossposted at my academic blog**

I know it's cliche, but spending time in another country makes you realize a lot about where you're from.

The news in America is a funny thing. Generally, something happens that the establishment media deems newsworthy. Let's take Obama's Cairo speech. The Times and the Post will put an article and maybe, just maybe, a picture on the front page. For the “important” issues, they might editorialize on it. Certainly Charles Krauthammer and EJ Dionne, Jr. will hold dueling columns.

That morning the folks of MSNBC’s Morning Joe and Fox and Friends will discuss it, making jokes that only folks in the Washington Establishment could possibly find funny. Chris Matthews will have a couple “strategists” argue about it despite the fact that they had never considered the issue beyond reading their Parties talking points. Bill O’Reilly will deliver his “Talking Points Memo” and Olbermann may deliver a “Special Comment.”

Then, whoosh, it disappears.

But it is not the end for all people. In the United States the healthcare debate does not end when a bill fails to overcome a filibuster. For people like my mother, who do not have health insurance, it goes on.

So it is in foreign affairs. Obama said a lot of things in Cairo. I was in the Middle East, but I already know what happened in the states—a lot of people debated, but never said anything. Then the news cycle ended.

Whoosh. Gone.

But here in Israel, the ripple effects keeping on rippling. Everyone we have met - and I do not believe they were humoring us because we are Americans - have, in some way, mentioned Obama’s speech. The Arabs are encouraged, as are many respectable Israelis. The settlers are terrified and angry. I can only imagine that in other parts of the region, al-Qaeda is running scared.

Obama gave his speech, and it is affecting daily life here. It may be out of the news cycle, but it is not gone.

What happens in the United States matters to so many people. Traveling abroad has made me realize how much of a responsibility the citizens of our republic carry.

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