PERSPECTIVErnItalian Lessonsrnby Thomas Flemingrna Una Gaffe su Ciampi aU’apertura del G-7″ ran the headlinernin Corriere della Sera. Italy’s pro-Clinton “newspaperrnof record” went on to describe how the American Presidentrngreeted Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, the Italian prime minister,rnwhen they met at the Tokyo economic summit: “Good morningrnPresident Skahlfahroh,” apparently confusing the primernminister (the president of the council) with President Scalfaro,rnwhose name he mispronounced. Bad staff work is the explanationrngiven.rnIt was an embarrassing moment for Prime Minister Ciampi,rnbut in his life of public service he must have met lots of Americanrnbusiness and political leaders who think Andreotti is arndriver who races at Indianapolis and who cannot name a FrenchrnPresident since Charles de Gaulle. Besides, what recent AmericanrnPresidents have been able to pronounce (much less speak)rnany foreign language? Jack “Ich bin ein Berliner” Kennedy? Jimmyrn”I studied Spanish” Carter? Bill “I was a Rhodes Scholar”rnClinton (or is it Clintone?) has enough trouble with English.rnJames Garfield, among the least of American Presidents, couldrncompose Greek and Latin simultaneously with different hands.rnThe state of our current leadership is exemplified by SenatorrnEdward Kennedy, who, despite all the influence and advantagesrnhis father’s ill-gotten wealth could buy, was expelled fromrnHarvard for cheating on a Spanish exam.rnWho cares, some of my readers will ask. Several of themrnwrote kind letters asking if all our coverage of Yugoslavia wasrnnot a volte-face for an isolationist magazine. I will not quibblernover the “isolationist,” although I believe we are the opposite ofrnthat, but isolation is not the same as ignorance, and if we believernthat the United States should not imprudently interfere inrnthe relations of other sovereign states, it does not mean that wernshould ignore them. America only makes sense as a provincernof Europe, albeit a province that became the center, and as wernbegin to lose contact with our European cousins, living as wellrnas dead, we begin to get ingrown and strange, like an incestuousrnmountain village where all the children are born with sixrntoes and two-figure IQ’s. Cut off from our roots, we developrntastes for paleolithic rap and oriental gibberish.rnOne of the signs that we are still provincial is the alacrity withrnwhich Americans leap at outdated foreign fads. The time wasrnwhen Europeans all excoriated the United States for its failurernto provide cradle-to-the-grave health care and social services.rnNow, at last, when the French and the Germans and thernSwedes have begun to realize the devastating costs of their welfarernsystems, we are about to repeat their mistakes, even thoughrnour comparatively lower welfare costs constitute the most importantrncompetitive advantage we have in the internationalrnmarketplace.rnThe point Europeans used to score against us was Americanrnnationalism or chauvinism, symbolized by efforts to promotern12/CHRONICLESrnrnrn