I wouldn’t advance this as a general philosophy of life, but it’s true that in many things, and in politics especially, the fewer illusions you have, the less disappointed you will be.
Case in point, the Obama trip to Europe and the G-20 Summit.
During the presidential campaign, you must recall, we were told endlessly that Obama would be a fresh new face of American democracy who would begin to restore our tattered credibility among the dismayed and alienated Europeans who yearned for the good old America of the past. (Which, presumably, did not include the past in which Charles de Gaulle haughtily demanded that those good old American forces leave the Continent, with the exception of those buried at Normandy. )
While I supported Obama, I never believed that he would bring a tabula rasa to the relationship between the U. S. and Europe, and I never believed that his Not-Bushness would cause the Europeans to do much more to help in trouble spots like Afghanistan. And since I never believed that Obama’s charm and personal diplomacy and intellect and firm-armed wife would cut much Dijon when it came down to actually committing flesh and treasure, I won’t be disappointed when it doesn’t.
Imagine the French and Germans saying: “You know, we believe Mr. Obama’s ideas about confronting radical Islam and rebuilding Afghanistan and massive economic stimulus would be ruinous for our countries, but sacre bleu! We love his smile, his youth, and his killer 3-point shot so much we’re going along with him anyway!”
If the French send even 500 more soldiers or gendarmes to Afghanistan (not Iraq, the Wrong War, but Afghanistan, the Right War) as a result of Obama’s grand tour, I will saute a beret and eat it.