America - From World
Policeman To Keystone Cop
By Blackie Sherrod - The Dallas Morning News

Just recently, when one of our billion-dollar properties was severely ruptured by two guys in overalls and a rubber boat, Uncle Sam got another jolt. It was like a chump picking up a live wire for the umpteenth time, just to see if it was still juicy.
The question seemed to be: Why would one of our costly craft stop for fuel in such an unfriendly atmosphere as Yemen? It was like leaving your limo in the boondocks, keys in the ignition.
The official explanation was that Yemen was no more dangerous for U.S. representatives than any other port in that part of the world. What the brass hats seem to be saying is, hey, we got enemies everywhere.
Once again we were reminded that we ain't the most popular kid on the block. The Ugly American still lives. Face it, in many foreign locales, while we're handing out free cornmeal, someone is stealing hubcaps off our welcome wagon.
It's enough to make geezers wish to bring our fleet and troops home, build a fence around our borders, drill for necessary oil in Alaska, make our own cameras and T-shirts in our own factories, spend all those foreign-aid billions on our own slums and schools and hospitals, paddle our own dadgum canoe and let the rest of the world go by.
This is juvenile thinking and inhumane and all that bad stuff, but be honest, it does occasionally cross the layman's mind. Especially when some wild eye blows a hole in the USS Cole or bombs our embassy in Kenya or Tanzania.
However, through no intent of our own, perhaps we have found the secret to worldwide compatibility.
Everybody loves a good laugh, and goodness knows, in our presidential election stumbles, we have furnished the international audience with some side splitters. And this may be good. It's awkward to slug someone when you're laughing at him. See a guy slip on a banana peel, you don't run over and bust him in the chops. You're too busy holding your sides.
Remember, we're the hoity-toity folks who chuckle when some Third World nation has a monumental foul-up at the polls. That's really funny to us, those poor souls trying to act like a democracy. Heck, we even send do-gooders, Jimmy Carter and such, over to their poor backward countries to teach them how to run an honest, efficient election. Hey, that's the Christian way, sharing our superior knowledge. Good on us.
Now, in a remarkable change of pace, we give an imitation of a cub bear on ice skates.
Can you hear the international critics? Pardon moi, are these the intellectuals who would tell us how to restructure our democracy? Balance our budgets? Tote our bales? Who's running their show, Woody Allen?
("If I wrote a script like this," said comedian Rob Reiner, "they'd throw me out of the Screenwriters Guild.")
Did you catch those Yanks on the telly, the experts, the pundits, fumbling around with their exit polls? Was it a Larry, Curly and Moe rerun? Really, you can't get upset at those Yanks. They're trying to bring back vaudeville.
Hey, comrades, did you hear the routine where one candidate calls to congratulate the other and then, an hour later, calls back to cancel his good wishes? Was that Al Gore or Bob Hope? Hoo, boy, we can't wait until their new president shows up at the next NATO meeting and we can hit him over the head with pig bladders.
They keep recounting Florida ballot boxes, with computers yet, and get new totals each time. Hey, Boris, call Deng, see if he's got an old abacus around there somewhere.
These are not Ugly Americans anymore, they're the Marx Brothers. You can't be envious of those guys, bless their hearts. We have met the enemy, and he is one of us.
Listen to the Yank historian Daniel Schorr: "We are the laughingstock around the world."
Maybe that ain't all bad. Compassion through comedy. Peace through pratfall. Has a nice ring to it.
Blackie Sherrod is a columnist for The Dallas Morning News.
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