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UNITED STATES and Spain: The danger of ethnic minorities - ETA

Paul Simon is blunt in his comments: "The Spanish Ambassador is doing the same thing as Congress, grandstanding to his domestic constituents. As you said, if he is remotely worth his salt, he knows that Congress passes over 300 nonbinding resolutions a year and that they are most all meaningless. So, his criticism was undoubtedly aimed at the public and press in Spain, because he knows there is no policy matter involved. Maybe he should stick to his paella, to use your metaphor.

The alternative is that he does NOT understand the US system, a system which he should know by virtue of his position, and which he should be fully aware that he's not going to change by whinging to the press. Believe it or not, it is quite possible that he is clueless. While the gentleman in question may be the exception, I confess that many if not most foreign officials I have met have very little true understanding of America or the American system. They may be polished, English-speaking, and understand the mechanics of US government fairly well, but few REALLY grasp what motivates Congress or the White House, the real balance of the system of checks and balances, etc".

The Spanish Ambassador retorts equally bluntly: "You, Sir, do not know English. "Whing" is not in Webster, and the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as "trans. and intr. To move with great force or impetus". I have heard that your favorite sport is weight-lifting, therefore you whing. Here is an example quoted by the OED: 1882 FLOYER Unexpl. Baluch. 185 "He whings the heavy mallet back over his head at arms' length". Nor do I see what nonbinding resolutions have to do with the American system of checks and balances. In any case "nonbinding resolution" is an oxymoron. Only an expert in the Byzantine system could explain these oddities of the American system. Pray tell me where the US constitution or the amendments justify these non-binding resolutions? One would have to examine the constitution of every US state to cover the subject. Did the Idaho potatoheads use the word "nonbinding"? I think not. No American I have talked to can answer my questions. I will ask my cultural attaché to do some research at the Library of Congress. My friend Ronald Hilton tells me he has been unable to find an explanation at Stanford University. "Non-binding resolutions" would be an excellent subject for one of your American Ph.D. dissertations".

Ronald Hilton - 3/23/02