A lot of administration critics have complained that under George Bush, America has had too much of a "Get lost!" attitude about the rest of the world. I suspect that the rest of the world would be too much with us under an Obama administration. This snippet from an Obama speech has gotten a lot of comment:
We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times," and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK. That's not leadership."
That's looking the world for approval, which doesn't seem like a good way to set national policy, let alone tell me what temperature I should keep my home at. There is also looking to the rest of the world for examples of how to live, which might or might not be a good idea, depending on the example. Here's New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who really ought to consider asking for a job as Obama's economic adviser, on looking to Germany for how to cope with fuel and transportation cost worries:
To see what I'm talking about, consider where I am at the moment: in a pleasant, middle-class neighborhood consisting mainly of four- or five-story apartment buildings, with easy access to public transit and plenty of local shopping.
It's the kind of neighborhood in which people don't have to drive a lot, but it's also a kind of neighborhood that barely exists in America, even in big metropolitan areas. Greater Atlanta has roughly the same population as Greater Berlin — but Berlin is a city of trains, buses and bikes, while Atlanta is a city of cars, cars and cars.
And in the face of rising oil prices, which have left many Americans stranded in suburbia — utterly dependent on their cars, yet having a hard time affording gas — it's starting to look as if Berlin had the better idea.
He does admit that "changing the geography of American metropolitan areas will be hard." We like our houses, and we love our cars. I think "ompossible" might be a better word. Public transit has never really caught on here in a big way, and it likely never will.