While it is true that Bush has presented America as a nation of vacant-eyed fratboys who gave up booze for the Bible and who care more for John Wayne than for Thomas Jefferson, we can not lay the blame entirely at the feet of our Idiot Child-Emperor.
He was put in White House twice by a public that is equal parts uninformed, psychotic, and apathetic. We constantly buy into the messianic myth of America as the Standard Bearer, the gleaming example by which all other countries must be judged. So blinded are we by what we do (or at least used to do) right, that we have long forgotten to bother with doing better.
Our unprecedented freedom of speech has brought us Howard Stern, Opie and Anthony, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Girls Gone Wild and The Flava of Love.
Our substantial wealth has brought us a nation obsessed with 60-inch Plasma TVs, 120 GB iPods, episodes of MTV's Cribs, and a class of privileged twits so useless we needed to coin the term "celebutante" to explain their existence.
Our freedom of religion has given rise to some of the least tolerant brands of apocalyptic Christianity the world has ever seen.
We have an approximation of a Free Market system which is just distorted enough to allow a new caste system where consolidation of wealth and control falls in the hands of a single digit percentage of the population.
If the world looks at us and questions are moral right to dictate practices in the rest of the world, it is not just because of our elected leader. It is because they look behind the leader and see a nation too uninformed, psychotic and apathetic to stop him from rising to power.
What we need to do is put our own house in order. You do not take gardening advice from the neighbor with the dead lawn. People with whiskey on their breath do not run AA meetings.
In many districts, our Diebold moderated elections are so suspect that they would not pass UN oversight. Only 50% of our population has enough faith in democracy to bother voting. Do we honestly believe that we are the people to show the world a better way?
Our founding fathers considered America a great experiment. It still is. Which means it is a work in progress. Somewhere in the last hundred years, we have gotten way the hell off course. We need to fix this if we are to be respected in the world.
Islamic Fundamentalism will always be a problem. Our Fundamentalist in Chief is playing into their cause and vice versa. I think that it is important that the leader of any nation must fear death. Bush's form of faith puts his mentality just inches away from that of a suicide bomber. He calls his war one of ideology, because he knows that to call it a religious or holy war would tip his hand too much. He called this thing a Crusade when he was gearing us up to invade Iraq. It was probably the last time he was honest with the American people about his intentions.
But again, there is a large branch of the population that put him in the White House. These code words of "Crusade" and "ideological struggle" are a message to the contingent of Americans who hope for Armageddon. If the world looks at Bush as a dangerous zealot, they also look over the shoulder at the millions of Americans reading the Left Behind series, the Jerry Falwells, the Pat Robertsons, the Regent University grads who have packed this administration.
Our founding fathers were Deists, intellectual agnostics who knew that a major problem of the royal model was the idea of divine provenance. They created a secular government to try and avoid the pitfalls we are now diving into.
Part of the American Experiment was to have a nation that was not based on mutual acceptance of the same imaginary man in the sky, but mutual respect for the rational mind.
It is through a return to reason that we will reinvent our standing in the world.