Rush Limbaugh has been bringing the message of freedom and American exceptionalism to Americans for over 20 years now, most weekdays, for three hours a day. He deserves a little thanks. And he certainly deserves to be listened to before attacked by natural allies.
For twenty years, the people left behind by the rest of the country have been absorbing Rush's messages that Americans are better than everyone else, which means that everyone else is inferior to us. Whatever we do is the right and moral thing to do, and everyone else, no matter what they do, is less right and less moral. By now the vast majority of people in the country assume that American are superior, both as a people and as a nation. If they weren't told this by Rush they were told this by their parents, by their schoolbooks, by their political leaders, and by their religious leaders. We have the arrogance to routinely demand that God bless America, and have little doubt but that he does. It doesn't occur to most us that our government actually committed acts that resulted in consequences favorable to us. We simply assume that we deserve our special status.
President Obama believes in American exceptionalism as well.
I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism. I’m enormously proud of my country and its role and history in the world. If you think about the site of this summit and what it means, I don’t think America should be embarrassed to see evidence of the sacrifices of our troops, the enormous amount of resources that were put into Europe postwar, and our leadership in crafting an Alliance that ultimately led to the unification of Europe. We should take great pride in that.
And if you think of our current situation, the United States remains the largest economy in the world. We have unmatched military capability. And I think that we have a core set of values that are enshrined in our Constitution, in our body of law, in our democratic practices, in our belief in free speech and equality, that, though imperfect, are exceptional.
Now, the fact that I am very proud of my country and I think that we’ve got a whole lot to offer the world does not lessen my interest in recognizing the value and wonderful qualities of other countries, or recognizing that we’re not always going to be right, or that other people may have good ideas, or that in order for us to work collectively, all parties have to compromise and that includes us.
And so I see no contradiction between believing that America has a continued extraordinary role in leading the world towards peace and prosperity and recognizing that that leadership is incumbent, depends on, our ability to create partnerships because we create partnerships because we can’t solve these problems alone.
It's sad to see someone brag about our "core set of values" when the entire world plainly sees us destroy economies and murder fellow human beings to achieve and maintain this global domination. Obama has stymied attempts to punish those who ordered torture, probably because he does not want to examine what we have done. His stated reason is that the photos will inflame anti-Americanism and put our troops in danger. I think that ship has already sailed, but I don't believe in American exceptionalism. The White House:
Spokesman Robert Gibbs said release of photos from the cases would merely "provide, in some ways, a sensationalistic portion of that investigation."
Obama said later, "I want to emphasize that these photos that were requested in this case are not particularly sensational, especially when compared to the painful images that we remember from Abu Ghraib."
Still, he said he had made it newly clear: "Any abuse of detainees is unacceptable. It is against our values. It endangers our security. It will not be tolerated."
The effort to keep the photos from becoming public represented a sharp reversal from Obama's repeated pledges for open government, and in particular from his promise to be forthcoming with information that courts have ruled should be publicly available.
Obama had to go against all of his inherent, superior core values to go back on his word to his supporters. Perhaps he really wants to protect the men he's left in a war zone. Perhaps his admitted belief in American goodness and superiority won't be challenged by photos of Americans torturing their prisoners. But perhaps it will, and he doesn't want to take that chance.
Juan Cole gives Obama the benefit of the doubt, but knows the attempt at denial is futile.
If this consideration did drive the reversal of position, I think it is unfortunate. The US is more likely to get past the mistakes it made 5 years ago if it comes clean and seeks reconciliation than if it goes on trying to cover up the past even though everyone knows what happened.
One of the reasons Republicans have an approval rating of 21% is because "Dick" Cheney is making it very, very difficult to deny reality. Republicans want to feel proud of their country and party but can't as long as it openly commits immoral acts so blatant that even the right can't deny anymore.
When will we hear from those in my party who give a damn about their country and about the party of Lincoln?
When will someone of stature tell Dick Cheney that enough is enough? Go home. Spend your 70 million. Luxuriate in your Eastern Shore mansion. Shoot quail with your friends--and your friends.
Stay out of our way as we try to repair the extensive damage you've done--to the country and to its Republican Party.
Let us believe we are exceptional once again. Let us feel superior. We need it. We have to believe we're better than everyone else. We have to believe that God is on America's side. We have to believe our parents when they say Americans are different from everyone else, chosen ones like the Children of Israel. Otherwise we're just ordinary people, just like everyone else, and can suffer the vicissitudes of fate like everyone else. We're too afraid to give up our security blanket of superiority. We depend on it to survive and without it we'd have to stop, reexamine our actions, and act on our new knowledge. We have too much to lose to do that--our wealth, our relative safety, our ego. So we grab everything we can get, kill them before they kill us, and never look behind the surface of the facade of superiority we've built.
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