BILL MOYERS: We were abroad these past two weeks trying to cleanse our journalistic pipes, so to speak. We thought we could put American politics out of sight and out of mind for a spell. We were wrong.
Everywhere we went people wanted to talk about America. The Greeks, Sicilians, Sardinians, Tunisians, Algerians, and Spaniards we met, were euphoric – cab drivers, guides, waiters, hotel clerks, bank tellers. They expect miracles from America. Their own economies are imploding: layoffs, budget shortfalls, failing banks, fear spreading among the populace. They want to believe that somehow the long arm of America will pull them back. I tried but I didn’t have the heart to tell them just how much trouble their rich Uncle Sam is in.
Maybe I was wrong not to dispel their illusions about America; after all, they live on top of the ruins of long-gone empires, whose rise and fall is a far more familiar and consistent theme of history than democracy’s success. I did my best, to say that America is trying very hard right now to put our own house in order.
That self-correcting faculty, even in the darkest hours, is the best thing we have going for us. That and the knowledge that nothing we face in the months ahead is more than was asked of our parents and grand parents in war and depression.
This giant of a country is bleeding badly from savage self inflicted wounds, but what happens next is still our story to write. We can be thankful for that.