The PJ Tatler

Presidents In The Mirror Are Less Impressive Than They Appear

This morning I called my family in Portugal, to take care of some little family matters.  Those were disposed of as quickly as it’s possible for a sleep-fogged author and two cross-talking parents to dispose of.

But the thing they really wanted to talk about, what they wanted to hear from me was what I thought Romney’s chances in the election were now that Obama had defeated him in the first debate.

Yes, you actually read that correctly.  Go up and read it again.

Apparently, according to the Portuguese Media, Obama was the better-prepared debater and Romney was clearly shown to be lacking.  The “Right Wing” media over there have stuck out their neck so far as to say it might have been a draw.

I know, I know.  You’re now wondering if my parents live in an alternate universe.  So did I.

My mother, who is the one closest to me politically, thought my denial of those reports was wishful thinking, and is still not convinced that Romney can overcome his poor performance… last night.

While making breakfast for the kids, I think I came to understand, if not the reports the mechanism behind them.

You see, my parents, like maybe 50% of Portuguese (and 99% of older Portuguese), don’t understand English.  The other 50% often have trouble with colloquial – and particularly American – English.

Even most of the media doing the reporting there will miss nuances.  And yes, body language is different, too.

So, they’ve been doing what our reporters do for other countries.  They’ve been following the media here.  And, because they’re several years behind us in terms of blogs (though almost everyone has a computer, the news blogging hasn’t really taken off.  Not sure why.  Must be cultural), it never occurred to them to check the alternate media.

They’ve bought the “Romney is doomed” thing so thoroughly, they’ve been making jokes about it on TV.

And now… and now even the media here is having trouble covering up Obama’s disastrous performance.

What can they do?  They’re doubling down on the narrative and hoping that Obama – and his media allies – still pull it off.

And if they don’t?

Ah, not to worry.  Portuguese media is after all European.  They’ll pull their inner intellectual and have panels on America’s endemic racism and feel ever so superior.

But until then, the view of the U.S. Portuguese (and I suspect other Europeans) are getting is like a fun house mirror.

I’ve heard, of course, that death or distance dress people in their best aspect.  But I didn’t realize that Portugal was that distant from the US.  Like… the other side of the moon.

It’s all right.  It’s not the first time my family has thought I was crazy.  I can live with it.