Victor Davis Hanson

Kerry said nothing publicly critical to former President Khatami about his own theocracy's violation of United Nations non-proliferation accords. He could have lamented Tehran's support for the terrorists of Hezbollah who are undermining democracy in Lebanon. And he might have deplored the infiltration of Iranian jihadists into Iraq.

"Pariah" status is instead given only to Kerry's own homeland. Yet, the United States is currently working with the European Union and the United Nations to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. With NATO, we fight to save Afghan democracy. And we spend blood and treasure alongside an international coalition to offer Iraqis something far better than either dictatorship or theocracy. Some pariah.

Avoid partisanship.

For all his anger at the current administration, Kerry conveniently doesn't tell his audience that the United States Congress voiced overwhelming bipartisan distrust of Kyoto. He forgets that he and other Democrats in the House and Senate, in traditional bipartisan fashion, authorized wars against Afghanistan and Iraqi by large pluralities that are now so controversial.

What then drives John Kerry to say such ugly things?

Kerry must still hurt over his recent loss to the supposedly less sophisticated George Bush. And he and other leftist elites apparently must remind their kindred European counterparts that there are still refined Americans like themselves who are not flag-waving Christians from Texas.

But, mostly, it is intellectual laziness. It is always easier to cite America's flaws to applause than to take the time to explain the nature of its rare morality to catcalls. In truth, the United States has never been richer or more generous. Its military is preeminent, protects vulnerable allies and fights extremism worldwide. Immigrants risk their lives to reach our shores.

But we are in a deep spiritual crisis when a recent candidate for our presidency either cannot, or will not, patiently explain that to the world. Instead, Sen. Kerry, the new ugly American abroad, glibly misleads a global audience that his own America is a "pariah" -- a verdict that is as embarrassing to us as it is stupid for him.

Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.