In a few hours the very good, very Caucasian people of Iowa will begin their caucuses. The begining of the end of the Bush Era will at last come into view.
It is all downhill from here.
It nearly is impossible to express how wonderful the Bush Administration has been for Japan. Never before has the United States been led by a group of individuals less concerned with substance and more concerned with appearances than the Bushies. From demanding loyalty oaths from the attendees at presidential functions (lest the attendees show a lack of enthusiasm for the President); to having male prostitutes impersonate reporters, lofting softball questions at White House press conferences; to compassionately letting thousands of fellow citizens drown and starve in New Orleans; to vehemently defending the nation to the extent that a set of losers with box cutters succeeded in carrying out the greatest foreign attack on U.S. soil since the War of 1812--this Administration has a decent chance at supplanting Potemkin as the definition of make believe government.
What a loss looms for Japan therefore! Never again may it be possible for a Japanese government to be given as much applause for simply having the right attitude--because having the right attitude was all that the Bushies expected of themselves.
Never again will the constitutional limitations on Japan's contributions to world security be overlooked as quickly as they were these last few years. Only under a Bush Administration--where knowledge, humility and steadfastness were grounds for dismissal--could simply trying hard be seen as worthy. Only under a G. W. Bush Administration could saying the right words be seen as more important than doing the right thing (ask the South Koreans about this).
What a matched pair Koizumi Jun'ichirō and George W. Bush were! What quirk of history brought them to power at the same time? One was a man who understood how to use gestures to get what he wanted. The other was a man whose entire life seems to have been naught but gestures, real personal achievement having eluded him.
How easy it was for the one to please the other!
No matter who comes out on top today, the Government of Japan has to think seriously about how stupidly easy it has been to manage the bilateral alliance relationship for the last seven years. The next U.S. president and his Administration will demand substance...a lot more substance (OK. If it is Mitt Romney, maybe not).
Having been lulled by the honeyed words out of Washington ("The relationship is the best it has ever been") in an era of low expectations, will the Nagata-chō and Kasumigaseki powers be ready for the shockwave that will hit them a year from now?