When asked if he believes in American exceptionalism, President Obama said yes, but he was sure that the British and the Belgians also believed in their countries’ exceptionalism.
President Obama’s version of American exceptionalism is Lake Woebegon’s children: they’re all above average. Or perhaps, he’d be more at home in Alice in Wonderland’s Caucus Race, where everyone runs and everyone gets prizes.
There was a time, not so long ago, when Americans expected their President to be an unapologetic champion of American ideals and American power.
President Kennedy said Americans were “the watchmen on the walls of freedom.” He echoed President Washington, who thought the American people had been given the unique opportunity to tend “the sacred fire of liberty.”
President Lincoln, burdened with the cares of office in the midst of our most terrible civil war, rose to rhetorical heights after proclaiming Emancipation. He told Congress that grim gray December of 1862 that “in giving freedom to the slave, we preserve freedom for the free, honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.”
To modern liberals, such talk is unbearable. Who could be so naïve as to believe the United States of America is the last best hope of earth? That’s jingo talk. That’s chauvinist. It’s ethno-centric. It’s down market.
Instead, liberals have put their faith in “the world community.” They look to “multi-lateralism” and international cooperation to bring hope and change to mankind, oops, sorry, humankind. (But say, isn’t that speciesism?)
This week in Washington, we are going through another exercise in multi-lateralism. President Obama has invited 46 other “heads of state” to join him in a Nuclear Security Summit. He hopes to have all these governing elites noodle on matters nuclear in the expectation that they will, first, agree what the issues are, second, agree on what to do about them, and, third, actually do what they say they will do.