I was rereading my random notes 22 years ago while flying over the Pacific, from New York to Hong Kong:
To me, the U.S. needs a President who accepts that the U.S. is in irreversible decline and who can lead the nation to realize and come to terms with this new status. Find your right place in the world, not the rightful place. Ronald Reagan gave the last lion roar. George W. Bush unconsciously imitated him and acted as if the U.S. had the same might as the days of JFK and Reagan. It didn’t work.
China faces a similar problem but from the opposite direction. We are certainly on the rise (大國崛起), but we are still unsure of our place in the world, and we are only too painfully aware that the world is equally unsure of us. How to navigate ourselves over the perilous waters?
That is why the U.S. and China need to work together. If these two countries can each deal with their new status and with each other in a sane and responsible fashion, we would have solved more than half of the entire world’s problems, political or environmental.
But I don’t see this happening yet.
Not with Obama anyway if he wants to be another JFK. Much like the Martin Scorsese documentary of the Rolling Stones that I saw on the plane (“Shine a Light”) on the way home. Mick Jagger can still strut his stuff, but don’t forget that people came to see him for nostalgia, not for change!
See: New York！New York!
I knew I was naive. What I knew but did not say was: no one can win a presidential election for telling people that he will manage a safe landing in the number 2 spot. But I was a Bruce Springsteen guy (still am), and I had a reason to believe him when he sang the most optimistic song at the end of his bleakest album “Nebraska”:
Seen a man standing over a dead dog lying by the highway in a ditch
He’s looking down kind of puzzled, poking that dog with a stick
Got his car door flung open, he’s standing out on Highway 31
Like if he stood there long enough that dog’d get up and run
It struck me kind of funny, seemed kind of funny sir to me
Still at the end of every hard day people find some reason to believe
I was in Shanghai yesterday sharing a chat with my long-time working partner who was with me on that flight to Hong Kong.
Funny Sir indeed. He was no longer an optimist. For him, the dog is now half-dead.
Not for me.
Another rocker that I love has this: