This is perhaps redundant to mention, but Chinese President Xi Jinping also dazzled the attendees at the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. Besides presenting brilliant new prospects to attending nations for even more lucrative trade deals with China, he led a "Happy Birthday" for Russian President Vladimir Putin, with Indonesian President Susilo Yudhoyono on acoustic guitar . Obama canceled his own trip there, presumably because he was busy buying non-chafing Kleenex in case Boehner had another blubbering fit during their budget negotiations. Obama's no show in Bali, Indonesia was the icing on the cake for the rest of the world. America has long been perceived as a bull in a china shop and a force to be reckoned with. But as the crisis with our insane Congress unfolded, we were looking more like a church mouse on LSD. In a much-debated but certainly well-received editorial published by The Xinhua News Agency __ which is the official press agency of the People's Republic of China __ writer Liu Chang called for the de-Americanization of the world economy. Hey guys! It's not too soon to start learning to eat with chopsticks.
Last and at least theoretically not least, during the 17 days of the government shutdown, over 350,000 people in our lovely world died of starvation. At the same time, speculators pumped up on testosterone and panting over the prospect of making a totally awesome killing, continued to drive the prices up on huge stockpiles and surpluses of food.
So what's the point?
Granted, the shutdown of the government and the debt ceiling crisis was much more consequential than Miley Cyrus' twerking or even Gloria Steinem's comments a few days ago about the place of eroticized-objectified-commodified pop stars in the greater scheme of things, specifically Ms. Cyrus.
But it's still a matter of perspective. It should come as no surprise when somewhere down the road, America devolves into a second or third-rate power and the rest of the world has passed us by. Because while we immerse ourselves in our petty dramas and obsess over the ridiculous machinations of our pea-brain politicians, there are a multitude of other things going on across the globe __ and even in our own country __ which ultimately will destroy America's capacity for leadership and undermine our own ability to function as a society and a nation.
It comes down to this . . .
of humankind wrestles with all sorts of challenges. It struggles to make
sense of the manipulations, the posturing, the militarization, the
privatization, the corporatization, the countless day-to-day clashes
between authority and the common citizen's forthright and simple desire
for a decent life. It's difficult anywhere for anyone to keep up with and deal with in a constructive way. America has no monopoly on distraction and confusion.
But the other people on this tiny planet are also very aware of our own special American brand of folly __ our breathtaking ignorance of the rest of the world; our un-Christian and hypocritical lack of compassion for others, even fellow-Americans; our infantile fairy-tale "exceptionalism"; our inability to put our own house in order, while we make pompous declarations about how everyone else should live their lives, preferably just like us.
The world sees our divisiveness, our indecision, our insensitivity, our superficiality, our paralysis, and this recent self-destructive congressional tomfoolery exactly for what it is.
Boehner cries. Obama high-fives. Miley shakes her firm little butt. Got it.
We in America can sit on the edges of our seats glued to the boob tube all we want.
We can wring our hands, cheer for our side, and yell expletives at the other.
We can watch this reality show like we watch professional wrestling.
We can pretend these travesties are what's really important.
But someday we're going to have to face the facts.
The real world actually has real news.