"Do you know what your president just did?" There is nothing that can dampen a romantic mood quite like those words. Unfortunately, this is what happens when you are an American dating a Canadian, and your president is George W. Bush. It doesn't matter that I never voted for the man and rarely agree with him myself. Whenever he does or says something Jody deems stupid, she tells me. There are some who worry about Bush's effect on my country's standing in the world. I worry more about his effect on my love life.
The idea that your president is still your president even if you didn't vote for him is a nice abstraction in high school civics class, but it's not so pleasant in real life. In fact, it would almost be better if I were a Bush supporter. At least, then the argument would be my argument. Instead I'm left apologizing for policies that are usually not mine and figures of speech that are definitely not.
Did you know that your country is the only major industrialized country not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol? she will ask.
Yes, but I don't own a car and walk to work most days.
Do you realize there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?
But I never said there were.
How could you elect a President when he didn't get the most votes?
It's not my fault. It's the Electoral College, and don't start going on about that again.
And then there are all the Bushisms. I cringe every time I hear him ask, "Is our Children learning?" or lament that "too many OB/GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women." I just know I will hear about it later.
Luckily, it goes both ways. Occasionally, your Prime Minister has some interesting comments himself. Recently, I got to relay this quote from Stephen Harper about his recent visit with the Dalai Lama: "I met the Dalai Lama in my office, but I meet everyone in my office. I don't know why I would sneak off to a hotel room just to meet the Dalai Lama. You know, he's not a call girl. As I say, he's a respected international spiritual leader."
Sure, it's probably nothing compared to some of the things George Bush has said, but after seven years it was still wonderful to be on the other side of the "do you know what your leader just said?" conversation.
With the 2008 presidential election underway, I realize that this is one of the most important elections of my lifetime, primarily because I don't want to have to hear smack about my President for another four years. But there's more to it than that. Jody is actually a little afraid of moving to the United States. It's not just Bush, of course. I am slowly realizing that my country does scare other countries, which can be a bit of a shock when you grow up being told that you are loved by the entire world.
Recently, I was able to talk briefly with presidential candidate Barack Obama at a campaign event in New Hampshire, and I had the perfect chance to bring up this issue. After a few niceties, I jumped right in with my question. "My girlfriend is Canadian, and she's afraid to move to this country. What are you going to do about that?"
"Because of health care?" he asked.
"Well, that too, but mainly because of Bush."
"Well, first, we need to get the troops out of Iraq. Shut down Guantanamo Bay. Restore habeas corpus. Work to improve our diplomatic relations with other countries. Fight global warming. And I think that would be a pretty good start."
Wow, here was a man willing to take serious action to help my romantic life. It seemed an especially nice gesture to restore habeas corpus just for my girlfriend, and she was suitably impressed when she heard. I tried to ask other candidates, but I wasn't able to get close enough to any other Democrats. As for the Republicans, I was a little afraid to ask them. I have a feeling they would have suggested that I just try to find a nice American girl instead.
And so, Barack Obama is my candidate. Of course, if you look at the really important issues, such as my love life, clearly any candidate will be an improvement over the current occupant of the White House.