And let's not pretend that President George W. Bush wasn't naive as well. His hope that love of democracy lurked just beneath the surface in the Middle East has proved at minimum more complicated, bloody and expensive in practice than in theory. But at least you could tell what Bush was for in the Middle East: freedom.
With Obama it's not so easy. Apparently you can't say Obama apologized for America in his Cairo speech, but he certainly did make it clear we wouldn't rub our values in anyone's face anymore. During the Iranian Green Revolution, he acted as if the people's yearning for freedom was really inconvenient. And, over the last week, this administration has talked about the First Amendment as if it's something it's stuck with.
"We do not stop individual citizens from expressing their views, no matter how distasteful they may be," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in the diplomatic equivalent of a regretful sigh. Maybe that's true (though the White House did ask YouTube to consider pulling the video), and federal authorities did drag the alleged filmmaker in for questioning.
But our public officials now treat attacks on Islam as especially offensive -- more offensive than unremarked-upon near-daily attacks on Christianity, Judaism, Mormonism, atheism and just about every other faith and creed.
Why is Islam so special? The answer is, it's not. But Muslim rioters get special treatment. And that's nuts. If these people are going to hate us, even after President Obama has done such a fantastic job reaching out to the Muslim world, maybe we should just accept that fact and stand up for what we believe, without apology.