The story of the enthusiastic greeting Bush received earlier this week in Tirana, Albania, and a post at The Reaction entitled, “We’ll Always Have Tirana,” sent me down memory lane, recalling one of the most amazing travel experiences I have ever had. I was in Tirana in the fall of 1991 on a democracy-assistance mission (which, apparently, was of minimal value, but that’s not the point of this planting).
One day, as I was walking around central Tirana, I came upon this square where a statute of one of the great leaders of the proletariat had stood until recently. As I snapped the above photo, a man came up to me and said, “Long live George Bush.” He spoke just enough English for me to understand that he was telling me that was what the graffiti said on the pedestal. (Note the “Xh. Bushi” visible in the photo below; in Albanian “xh” makes the “Ge” sound in George.)
Then he said, “to us, Americans are like gods.”
I also recall seeing transit buses with pictures of Bush (the father, of course) and Jim Baker (who had visited shortly after the fall of perhaps Europe’s worst communist dictatorship).
Yes, the Bushes will always remember Tirana fondly. And if the US government can pull off its plans for an independent and internationally recognized KosovÃ«–the plans that generated the massive outpouring of support for Bush the Younger–it would be an almost divine act.