Sunday, October 09, 2005

My recent article for Slate: "No U.S. Visa for You! But How About a Nice Trip to Iraq? Why America loves Poland's soldiers but not her tourists." In which I try to explain America's problem with Polish plumbers.

You have to hand it to the Poles: There is something positively endearing about their loyalty to America. The war in Iraq is unpopular there, but Poland has nonetheless given a sweeping majority to a center-right government that will reconsider the departing coalition's decision to pull Polish troops out of Iraq. But don't let anybody tell you the Polish election was a ringing endorsement of President Bush's Iraq policy, because there's a catch...
I can't actually take credit for the hamburger quip at the end, although I did embellish the thing about the special sauce and the pickle.

As I explained to my editor, if I were to break it down crudely, the argument might go something like this: You have is a party of ex-commies that's all corrupt and slimy thinking, "OK, America's invading Iraq, so let's get a piece of the action, because America's always right and -- OOPS! Let's get outta here!" Then you have the center-right opposition, saying, "Hey, did you guys ever think about what's actually good for Poland? Yes, let's stand alongside America, but have some self-respect, man!" *SLAP* (Maybe that's being overly generous to Poland's right. I'm frankly not sure.) Of course I can't come right out and say all these things because they're only vaguely true in a big, dumb, broad-strokes, Tom Friedman kind of way.

For whatever it's worth, I think the right-wing Czech president opposed the Iraq war not out of principle (I don't think he has any sense of the concept) but because he's a Putinesque creep.

Anyway, sometimes I click on the "read comments" button at the bottom of my Slate articles to see how the teeming masses have reacted. I noticed one guy took issue with the following sentence:

Differences over Iraq notwithstanding, few Poles would question the country's alliance with the United States.
For the record, I retract this. It's not strictly true, for one thing: if I tried really hard, I'm sure I could fill a small auditorium with Poles would question the country's alliance with the United States, which, depending on how you look at things, is more than a few. More to the point, words like "few" and "many" are fudge words when used in journalism and should generally be avoided. (Even "some" is tricky, because it usually means "One guy I talked to.") I'll try to do better next time.


Post a Comment

<< Home