David Limbaugh
The fascinating issue of America's character arose in a "Ricochet Podcast" featuring the sagacious Norman Podhoretz.

Hosts Peter Robinson, Rob Long and James Lileks interviewed Podhoretz on a range of issues, but primarily American foreign policy.

Long lamented that President Obama has been making a consummate mess of America's foreign policy, most recently in Syria, yet polls don't seem to reflect that Americans are as atuned to Obama's incompetence as one might expect -- and hope. Nor do Americans seem to be bothered by Russian President Vladimir Putin's denunciation of the United States in an op-ed for The New York Times.

Long asked Podhoretz: "Has this ever happened before?"

Podhoretz responded that something along these lines has happened before in America. During the Cold War, there were many on the left who had no appetite for keeping the defense budget in sync with the Soviet buildup and no appetite for confrontation with the Soviet Union, which they believed was here to stay and so must be accommodated.

But, cautioned Podhoretz, "it's much worse now ... than it was then." He continued: "My deepest fear ... is that there's been a radical transformation in the American people, not just under Obama but building. ... I was absolutely certain that somebody as far left as Obama could never be elected and certainly not re-elected, because the America I thought I knew would not tolerate this, and of course, I was magnificently wrong, and ... I haven't made up my mind whether this was a temporary glitch ... or whether it signified some real change in the American character. I think Obama was even to the left of (George) McGovern, and McGovern ... won ... one state (and the District of Columbia) in 1972 against an unpopular president. And that was the America I thought still existed, and if it does, it's a sleeping giant, and one can only pray that it will awaken in time to make a difference."

That is the question. Has there been some real change in the American character or at least some change in Americans leading to their rejection of or mortal apathy toward the American idea?

Isn't that what Mitt Romney was getting at with his comment about the so-called 47 percent? Wasn't he expressing his fear that when as many Americans are receiving more from the government than they are contributing to it, we may have passed the point where we can preserve America as a uniquely productive free market dynamo committed to the goal of maintaining equal opportunity and equal protection under the law?

David Limbaugh

David Limbaugh, brother of radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, is an expert on law and politics. He recently authored the New York Times best-selling book: "Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel."

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