Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I Heart Slate.com

Without Slate, I never would have found out how much my country is loved by the Albanians.

Bush's reception in this small, Muslim-majority nation may have been the most enthusiastic he ever received. At a time when his domestic approval ratings were near their nadir, crowds waited for hours outside the cafe to grasp, hug, and kiss the president. Ecstatic throngs chanted, "Bush-y! Bush-y!" as his limousine passed by. Three postage stamps displayed Bush's smiling visage, and a street in Tirana, the capital, was named after him. Parliament unanimously approved a bill authorizing "American forces to engage in any kind of operation, including the use of force, in order to provide security for the president," and Albanian newspaper Korrieri published the sarcastic headline "Please Occupy Us!"

Albania's prime minister since 2005, Sali Berisha, called Bush "the greatest and most distinguished guest we have ever had in all times." Berisha's rival, Socialist Party leader and Tirana Mayor Edi Rama, said, "Albania is for sure the most pro-American country in Europe, maybe even in the world."


Genc Pollo, Albania's eloquent, Austrian-educated deputy prime minister (he holds a doctorate in Roman history), casually recites the historical reasons for the "rock star treatment" Bush received: "Woodrow Wilson preventing Albania from being carved up"; "Ronald Reagan's inspiring statements of 'evil empire' and 'Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,' "; "Bush Sr.'s encouragement in our fight against communism"; "Clinton's bombing of Serbia" to protect the ethnic Albanians who make up roughly 88 percent of Kosovo's population; and "Bush Jr.'s promotion of Kosovo's independence and of Albania joining NATO." But, Pollo says, "there is also an emotional dimension to this affection that cannot always be explained in rational terms."

Though U.S. support of Albania has gone almost totally unnoticed by the American people, it has engendered feelings of great appreciation here, a gratitude Albanians have been eager to express. After Clinton's intervention in Kosovo, thousands of Albanians named their babies Bill and Hillary, and many rooted for the latter during the Democratic primaries in 2008.

Who says America can't get along with Muslims? I love you too, Albania!


  1. Pollo says, "there is also an emotional dimension to this affection that cannot always be explained in rational terms." So Pollo is saying that Bush is definitely not Vulcan.