Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Lindsey Graham and Carly Fiorina Are Being Ugly Americans

The specter of "the ugly American" as a kind of diplomatic naïf uncomfortable with foreign languages and geography, and  showing an insensitivity to culture is going poltergeist right now as Sen. Lindsey Graham and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina try to show how much they understand about the broader world by slinging broad-brush generalizations at entire nationalities.

Because nothing says you're to be taken seriously like a willingness to be a public clod.

First up is Senator Graham, who explained that his time working in a pool hall taught him about liars, and that is how he knows that Iranians are liars. No,  really.

In a video address to this weekend's Southern Republican Leadership Conference during which he made his case as a potential presidential candidate, Graham asserted that his experiences dealing with the clientele of his parents' business taught him that "the Iranians are lying" when it comes to the ongoing nuclear negotiations with the Obama administration.

"My family owned a restaurant, a pool room, and a liquor store, and everything I know about the Iranians I learned in the pool room," Graham said in the video. "I ran the pool room when I was a kid and I met a lot of liars, and I know the Iranians are lying."
He also called them "cheats" and compared them to Nazis.

This is pretty amazingly ignorant, and not just in the "furriners are bad" and "the Arabic word for 'the' is bad" kind of way. It's in the "completely being willing to write an entire country and people off to score political points with bigots because I have no diplomatic imagination" way. I think I may have underestimated Graham's ability to find the lowest level to which one might sink and yet claim credibility. Of course, he's not alone, there.

Carly Fiorina, who has been taking pains to demonstrate that her coast-hopping as a businessperson is so a kind of foreign policy experience, has also made a fairly shocking broad statement--in this case about the Chinese.

‘I have been doing business in China for decades, and I will tell you that yeah, the Chinese can take a test, but what they can’t do is innovate,’ she said. ‘They are not terribly imaginative. They’re not entrepreneurial, they don’t innovate, that is why they are stealing our intellectual property.’
Wow. Way to uncork a not-especially original stereotype about a nation of over a billion people. The funny thing is, saying this is showing not just a kind of hubris and a misunderstanding of Chinese culture, but extremely poor business sense.

Mistaking the acts of intellectual property pirates who happen to be Chinese with the broader capabilities of the Chinese economy is the sort of thing that doesn't exactly earn my confidence.

I think they might come off as being a bit wiser if they exchanged trash-talking rhetoric for something more substantial. But I am altogether unsure they have it to bring.

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