Karate and diplomacy do mix

By Kevin Wilson: Freedom Newspapers

The Group of Eight, or G-8, conference this week in Russia has shown the United States, Russia and the world a valuable lesson, thanks to George W. Bush.

It’s not the easy lesson from Monday that showed us it’s not a good idea to curse when you’re munching on a dinner roll in front of Tony Blair, because a microphone may pick it up. Instead, it’s the lesson we saw during a press conference featuring both Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin and Bush were airing their disagreements while sharing a stage. Bush said he was disappointed the United States was working with Iraq to give it democracy, with rights for women and democratic elections, and Russia didn’t seem to have those same ideals. Putin shot back that he didn’t want a democracy similar to Iraq.

Harsh words, no? That’s what I thought, which is why I was somewhat impressed as both came off of the stage like the incident had never happened. Putin and Bush showed their countries and the world there’s no reason you can’t poke fun at somebody to hammer a point home without risking damaging a working relationship.

Take a recent company picnic I attended. Andy DeLisle, one of our photographers, had just returned from his trip to Florida with reporter Marlena Hartz to take a closer look at the Air Force’s Special Operations Command.

Around some other coworkers, I asked him how the trip went, and if he and our reporter got along. I’ll paraphrase the conversation:

Me: So I’m wondering if you two talked much, or were there a lot of moments of silence?

Andy: We talked quite a bit.

Me: Oh … I’ve never known you to talk about anything but photos and I didn’t know she was all that interested in photos.

Andy: We talked about other stuff besides photos. I talk to you about photos all the time because you always screw them up.

And so endeth the company picnic, or at least my credibility at it. I wasn’t mad because it was hilarious, and he owed me anyway since I gave him bad directions to the picnic.

Someday, I hope we can all take this lesson in mind. That way, I can continue my life-long dream that I thought of Saturday to officially change Miracle Whip from a salad dressing to a sandwich spread. I’ve never seen anybody put a dollop of Miracle Whip on a Cobb salad, and I think I can say— without offending anybody— that any person who does is sick and should be beaten. I think salad dressing should spill out of the container when it’s upside down, and I just don’t get that from Miracle Whip.

Later on, I hope I can fulfill another goal — a business endeavor in Hollywood. I plan to make a novelty shop where I sell bumper stickers and T-shirts for people who don’t work in entertainment. It would be great to drive around Hollywood, forcing scriptwriters to see bumper stickers that say, “I liked the book better,” T-shirts for directors that say, “Roger Ebert thinks your movie is garbage” and fortune cookies that tell actors, “You shoulda stopped after your first high school play.” They’ll have a laugh, and I’ll make a fortune on the general public’s simultaneous hatred and obsession with movie stars.

And in the end, I’ll have George W. Bush to thank for it.
Wait a minute, my coworker has just told me Vladimir Putin has a sixth-degree black belt in Judo. Maybe that is why Bush was friendly afterward.

No matter how you look at it, there’s a lesson in there somewhere.

Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. He can be reached at 763-3431, ext. 313, or by e-mail:
kevin_wilson@link.freedom.com