The US is a country that believes passionately in freedom, ingenuity and free enterprise. It has produced only two dozen kinds of cheese (some of which are excellent copies of French and British cheeses). However, if you walk into any American supermarket, you will see that the US has produced more than 50 kinds of peanut butter. They all taste the same but they have radically different labels.
France is a country that is overtaxed and over-administered by a suffocating bureaucracy. It has somehow managed to create 176 (or 258 or 1,000) different kinds of cheese, all of which are subtly different from one another. A lait cru (raw milk) camembert, eaten at just the right moment (when there is only a thin layer of dry cheese in the centre) is one of the great achievements of humanity. Ditto roquefort; and St-Nectaire; and cantal; and chaource; and so on and on (and on).
According to the Wall Street Journal book of political and economic orthodoxy, the American Way produces enterprise, variety and choice. The French Way produces stultification. Cheese defies that ideology. No wonder that cheese-eating is a term of insult for American right-wingers.
If we are being offered a choice between a cheese-eating civilisation and a peanut-butter-eating civilisation, I am with the cheese-eaters. Post-September 11, US politics ? and even US journalism ? seems to be going the way of peanut butter. There is room for endless freedom of choice between labels. The contents of the ideas are not allowed to vary.