The Daily Yomiuri,
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8055
There are some interesting comparisons between Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara and newly-elected U.S. President George W. Bush. Despite their obvious humble intellectual depth and the paucity of wit in both men, they were elected to their posts with considerable popular support from an electorate that tells pollsters that they admire them for their apparent outspokenness, straight forwardness, and honesty.
In the recent U.S. election, for example, many Republican Party supporters reported admiring George Bush as a man of simple morality, and uncomproming convictions, a man who says what he means and does what he says he'll do without apology - desirable traits in these times (or any time). Governor Ishihara, for all the political differences between himself and the American president, seems to possess a character cut from a similar cloth.
It doesn't bother the public that both men are heinous liars - weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (and much more besides) on the on hand, the reality about foreigners and crime in Japan on the other. That enough people in America and Japan should find these men's idiocy and immorality appealing suggests that despite their cultural differences both Japan and America share a cultural backwardness.
I don't mean to be elitist. I understand the appeal of the Everyman character of these leaders to every man. But I also recognize stupidity when I see it and credit it as a vice rather than a virtue.
Published on Saturday, November 27, 2004 as “Ishihara, Bush cut from same cloth.”