Have you ever been to a party when you hoped a certain kid wouldn't show up? He or she is annoying, rowdy and, even though no one likes them, you still have to act civil. The doorbell rang in Beijing last week and in walked George W. Bush.
As President Bush looked into his binoculars at the Olympic opening ceremonies, one can only imagine what he was looking for. Perhaps he searched for a souvenir stand to get Dick Cheney a Chinese lantern, or maybe the women's beach volleyball team.
While China may have succeeded in creating a grand optical illusion for the world, displaying their traditional past and technological future, it was becoming clear that President Bush was looking beyond the fun and games. Pundits have debated whether Bush should have even showed up in Beijing. In regards to human rights, China promised to clean up its act.
While China celebrated that Bush would not boycottthe games, his rightfully rowdy behavior caused almost as much of a headache for the Chinese as if he'd stayed home. Via Air Force One, the cowboy galloped into China, talking smack on the Chinese government. He told reporters that "trusting their people with greater freedom is necessary for China to reach its full potential," a clear nudge for China to embrace democratic ideas.
Along with cheering on United States swimmer Michael Phelps, the always-religious president even attended mass. "No state, man or woman should fear the influence of loving religion," he told reporters, a criticism of China's strict religious restrictions.
The United States' relationship with China is more complicated than figuring out how Clay Aiken became a father. For economic reasons, the United States has not been fully able to denounce China for its human rights. Thus, Bush has balanced criticism with praise when commenting on the Asian superpower.
But it wasn't all about China. With the Georgia and Russia conflict growing overseas, America has been forced to take sides. The United States needs Russian support in dealing the North Korea and Iran, but also needs to protect Georgia. Why does Georgia, a country smaller than Rhode Island, even matter? Slicing through Georgia is a vital pipeline, providing oil for Western Europe. If the pipeline deteriorates, it will cause a global increase in oil prices.
Trained by U.S. Special Forces, Georgia has provided more troops in Iraq than any other nation besides Britain and America, according to NBC News. In an interview with NBC News, Bush labeled Russia's response to the escalating conflict as "disproportionate and dangerous." Putin fired back: "It's a pity that some of our partners instead of helping are in fact trying to get in the way." After awkwardly brushing elbows in Beijing, it seems these two party crashers will steer clear of each other.
China's rising power and the Georgia/Russian conflict provided proof to Americans that global tension has been escalating.
Through his binoculars, perhaps President Bush continued searching for Iraq's W.M.D.'s. Maybe he stared at Chinese President Hu Jintao and wondered how they managed to emerge as the rising global superpower. He might have spotted Vladimir Putin and pondered the possibility of Moscow controlling a portion of Western oil, and maybe he felt regret for increasing our addiction to foreign oil during his presidency.
As the German national team marched in, maybe he wondered how Sen. Barack Obama drew a crowd of 200,000, as his approval rating continues to remain in the gutter. When President George W. Bush showed up at the world's biggest party, Russia and China's greeting to him was colder than a Moscow winter. Can you honestly blame them?
Regardless of what he was looking atthrough his binoculars, the lonesome cowboy won't be looking out for America much longer. It's exciting to think about who will be looking out for America next time. And even more, what the world will think when they stare back.