All hat, no cattle

November 20, 2003 ,

THE last time there was an official State Visit by an American President to the UK, America, Britain and our allies had just won a war. There the similarity to today ends.

The British Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, welcomed President Woodrow Wilson 85 years ago.

Wilson was a cult hero in Europe. In those days and for some time later, the Yanks tended to be late when it came to fighting wars.

They only joined in the First World War in 1917, three years after hostilities began. Wilson said that America's participation would make the world "safe for democracy".

Ironically, like George W. Bush, only a minority of the American public had voted for him, but Wilson won enough states to become president.

He was treated as a hero on his State Visit to Britain, because he represented American idealism to the public.
His famous 14 points for a peace settlement put democratic values ahead of the old European values of imperial power for the first time in world history.

He wanted a League of Nations to prevent future wars, but the U.S. Congress refused to join the new club their President had created.

George W. Bush has received no such warm welcome on his State Visit this week. Instead London has had to be shut down to protect him from protests.

Bush is no Woodrow Wilson, but neither is he the brainless cowboy pictured in the media.
No-one becomes President of the United States simply by being a folksy idiot.

But in comparison with the great man who last came on an official State visit to this country, President Bush is an intellectual pygmy.

As they say of those who don't quite make the grade in the President's home state of Texas, Dubya is "all hat and no cattle".