Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Something rotten in the state of Denmark...

Sorry for the bad Shakespeare, but since this will not likely show up in American news, I thought ya'll might be interested. Dubya made his first trip to Denmark yesterday (he will stay throughout today and tomorrow head off to the G-8 summit in Edinburgh). This makes him the second office-holding president to visit (Reagan visited after his two terms, Clinton visited mid second term [to rave reviews, I might add]). The joyousness of this occasion was illustrated in a minute by minute report on DR 1 (one of Denmark's main channels). It covered from the minute Air Force One landed to when the Pres. arrived at the Prime Minister's home a half-hour's helicopter flight north. DR 1 reporters had flown the same route earlier so they could show exactly what the Pres. could see ("look, Lars, he can see our house!"). They then did a lovely second by second commentary on the landing of the first helicopter ("and now we see the tree branches moving due to the wind caused by Marine One!") only to discover the first helicopter was a decoy, Dubya landed in the second. There was a band and lots of reporters, but not a regular Dane (think Lars Svendsen aka John Smith) in the crowd. All well-wishers or otherwise were kept to the town and away from the manor house. As per usual, Bush will not be exposed to people who may actually disagree with him.

While most Danes are either moderately for or against Bush; more against, but without a great deal of hatred, this visit is important to Danes because Denmark is involved in the war in Iraq. Also, as a small country, it is always nice to be recognized by the so-called leader of the free world. And despite what looked like hero-worship on DR1, a hard-hitting reporter did grill Dubya on many of the issues Danes are worried about. Namely the war. Which gave Dubya a chance to AGAIN play the 9/11 card. Anyway, there *were* a few protests to the Bush visit. Thomas and I were lucky to catch the Aarhus protest. Five angry Danes, followed by two news cameras, walked around the pedestrian-only streets waving banners and chanting. This was in turn ignored by most people.

For the most part, Danes follow the adage: love the people, dislike (or even really really dislike) the war-crazed leader those idiots re-elected. As an American, I am often called to comment on American politics. But this is done without malice or disdain. They seem to recognize that not all Americans voted for this turkey and even recognize that the general American public was lied to regarding the war, resulting in people voting for rather than against Dubya. Perhaps because they too were talked into this futile war. Or perhaps because Denmark has very strong ties to the US. It is Denmark, tiny and often ignored, who holds the record for oldest and biggest American Independence Day celebration held outside of the US.

So the Danes shake their heads and continue to welcome American visitors with open arms. Viewing the US as that crazy younger sibling who gets up to no good from time to time, but gosh, you still have to love them, they're family after all.

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