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Posted at 11:19 AM ET, 11/29/2010

What the right's "American exceptionalism" attack on Obama is really about

By Greg Sargent

Let's stipulate at the outset that there's really no point in getting into a debate with right-wingers over the question of whether Obama believes in "American exceptionalism." That's because the right intends this attack line as a proxy for their real argument: That Obama is not one of us.

The right's ongoing claim that Obama doesn't believe in American exceptionalism -- which is the subject of a big Post story today -- largely stems from this quote from the President: "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism."

This line comes from a news conference that Obama gave in April of 2009, at which he also noted that he's "enormously proud of my country and its role and history in the world." He even stated flatly that American exceptionalism is justified, as long as it's balanced with genuine efforts at international cooperation:

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...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.

None of these words from the President, of course, has stopped folks on the right from citing this news conference as proof of Obama's belief in America's unexceptionalism. As Jon Chait notes, this goes to the heart of the debate about "epistemic closure on the right."

But, really, the right doesn't intend this as a debate over what Obama really believes. Rather, it's part and parcel of a larger effort to advance an argument about Obama's cultural roots and identity.

While respectable right wing commentators are careful to disavow the "birther" movement, the suggestion that Obama is not really one of us subtly permeates virtually every aspect of the right's critique of the Obama administration and its policies. Republican officials have openly argued that Wall Steet reform and health reform risk remaking our society and economy into something that's no longer recognizably American. While officials making this claim may very well believe to varying degrees that this constitutes a meaningful critique of Obama's approach to domestic policy, the intended subtext of the argument is unmistakable.

Meanwhile, some of the 2012 GOP hopefuls have signaled that the 2012 campaign will be about Obama's "Americanness." Mitt Romney's book, which is a rollout of his candidacy, is called "No Apology: The Case for American Greatness." Perceptive readers will notice that this is a clear reference to Obama's alleged willingness to "apologize" to the rest of the world for our conduct. The implication, of course, is that the "case for American greatness" has to be restated in the wake of Obama's supposed undermining of it.

Indeed, Romney has come right out and said: "President Obama fails to understand America." Surely Romney would insist that this is a critique of Obama's policies, but the real game here is laugably obvious.

Getting into an argument with the right over Obama's views is to miss the point. The real goal is to hint that you should find Obama's character, story, motives and identity to be fundamentally alien, unsettling, and insidious.

By Greg Sargent  | November 29, 2010; 11:19 AM ET
Categories:  Foreign policy and national security  
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Next: Marc Thiessen's enduring affection for torture

Comments

All Enlightened Souls believe in the Exceptionalism of Humanity, because they have a consciousness of brotherhood with all people because we all come from the same Source or God!

This Wikileak-Disclosure/debacle is a continuation of the saga/plot to sabotage efforts in regards to peace talks and to discredit Pres. Obama -- to try to make him a one-term President. And sadly, it is also a history lesson on Selfishness and Greed, that some within this nation have become so self-absorbed that they put the safety and welfare of others behind their own selfish and petty interests, with the outcome of weakening and discrediting America in the eyes of the world!

These reporters (and all media who disclose these leaks) waited until we got ourselves a Black President to Dare "Tell All" in regards to classified intelligence that in normal times, and in saner times, is kept secret -- has been kept secret for years! Why now do we reverse protocol and disclose what is normally kept hidden and secret and kept secret for a good reason? There is something sinister and seriously wrong, quite frankly, dangerously wrong, in America when you have some people trying to undermine America's intelligence system in this way. First it was Valerie Plame (AND THEY GOT AWAY WITH THAT) and now this much more egregious act. Clearly, we have some serious Enemies from within. First our economy and now this!

On the flip side, "What the American plutocrat owned media never wants you to see, and that is how Europe in particular and the world in general has come to see America as a country in decline, whose people are so badly misinformed by the media, they actually don't realize that America is the only major industrialized nation in the world that by right of law does not offer universal medical access, paid sick leave, paid maternity leave and paid annual leave. It just seems almost impossible to get that word out to American people. Even diaries on that subject at the Kos top out at just over 2,000 views. Therefore this diary today will try to do something different. It will show you what the European media is saying about the American dream and you will be shocked!"

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2010/11/29/923787/

Posted by: wdsoulplane | November 29, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Romney the Mormon should be very careful about who and what he brands as "really American." Glenn Beck and the crazy Mormon pseudo-constitutionalist that he and Mike Lee of Utah are pushing has a very different understanding of the Constitution than most US Supreme Court justices and constitutional lawyers. Not that it matters. But people who want to break down the wall of separation of church and state really need to get a grip on how many people don't believe what they believe.

Posted by: Mimikatz | November 29, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

" The real goal is to hint that you should find Obama's character, story, motives and identity to be fundamentally alien, unsettling, and insidious."

Ah, baloney! The right has many American heroes who began as immigrants or are of foreign ancestry/nationality.

Posted by: sbj3 | November 29, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Spot on, Greg. I'd just add that the foam finger waving done by the Romneys of the world never comes with any substance. For these people, we are great because we say so, or because we can name things we've done in the past (leaving out inconvenient negatives). And so how do we go forward? Outsource jobs? Keep Wall St rich?

What's the plan, Stan?

Cuz if you don't have one the only thing that's going to be exceptional in 20 years is your ability to chant USA! USA!

Posted by: BGinCHI | November 29, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

sbj -- yeah, and so what? the right decided that those heroes had a story that was fundamentally American. Not so in Obama's case.

And mimikatz, Romney doesn't appear to be too worried about that. :)

Posted by: Greg Sargent | November 29, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

"Ah, baloney! The right has many American heroes who began as immigrants or are of foreign ancestry/nationality."

Yes, but IOKIYAR.

Posted by: schrodingerscat | November 29, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Dead on.

The GOP *IS* gutter politics. Without the Republican Party this country actually WOULD be exceptional.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | November 29, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

@greg: Your point is "the right" has "decided" (at some secret meeting chaired by Montgomery Burns perhaps?) that Obama's story is not fundamentally American? And for proof you point to a book that purports to criticize his policies? I seem to recall many a conservative praising the story of Obama as something that could only happen in America. I think many can see right through this effort to delegitimize perfectly valid policy critiques. It is possible to believe that Obama is a great American who understands American exceptionalism (in an intellectual sense) but who is nevertheless leading this country in the wrong direction due to his liberal policies.

Posted by: sbj3 | November 29, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

One more observation:

The birther movement within the GOP is still going strong. I just received an email from one of my GOP lists that was fanning the flames of birtherism. Greg, this article is absolutely 100% correct and everyone knows it (but it still needs to be pointed out time and time again because Republicans are forgetful and/or disingenuous).

Posted by: Ethan2010 | November 29, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

"That's because the right intends this attack line as a proxy for their real argument: That Obama is not one of us."

Is that really an argument? I thought it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that Obama isn't one of the American right. Unless someone is arguing Obama is really a closet right-winger?

@schordingerscat: "Yes, but IOKIYAR."

To Republicans, certainly. However, if you're a liberal an the given alien other is NOT a liberal, then it's actually NOT okay if you're a Republican.

Or, more accurately, when the issue is politics and the people engaged in the battle are political animals/ideological first, than the ends always justifies the means. Will calling our opponent a Kenyan anti-colonialist rally our side? Then let's do it! Will calling the supporter of our opponents bitter clingers help us? Then do it!

Those on that right (those drifting into Bircher territory) that want to imply Obama is strange and alien because he might have been raised by folks with Kenyan roots or might have been technically born in a state of non-American-citizenship (which is, as I have said, a fatally flawed argument, but I digress) are, in my opinion, are using "any port in a storm", as it were. Whatever they think gives them leverage against their political opponents, are bolsters their preconceived notions about their incompetence or badness, becomes fodder for to support the preconceived notion that their opposition is flawed simply because they are playing for the other team. As it were.

Or, much shorter: it's less "It's OK if You Are Republican (or Democrat)" and more "It's not OK Specifically Because You Are a Liberal" or "It's not OK Because You Are a Conservative".

Team identification is wired very deeply into our psyches. When it comes down to it, human beings are and remain deeply tribal, no matter how elaborate and intellectualized our justifications are for our tribal loyalties. Thus, when playing shirts and skins, teams can actually come up with taunts having to do with the other teams shirtlessness (or the fact they are burdened with shirts, depending). We are wired to do it.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 29, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

sbj nails it, but for precisely the wrong reasons.

The point on offer here is that the right is attacking Obama without any policy critique.

Is Kyl offering a critique of Obama's START treaty? Was it Obama's idea to begin with? Lugar?

How about deficits. Where is the GOP plan?

The minute you drill down into specifics the GOP position here is without substance and HAS to resort to attacking the idea of Obama (and liberal policies) rather than their substance.

Or maybe someone can remind me of the GOP HC plan, with its extensive coverage and massive deficit lowering and low costs.....that's what I thought. Crickets.

Posted by: BGinCHI | November 29, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

The main thrust of GOP arguments are basically just attempts to tap into the undercurrent of race based fears and prejudice? Shocking!

Sarcasm aside...this is 100% spot on, and the only thing more distressing than the GOP's behavior is the media's complacency in it. Major media figures and outlets - the Post included a lot of the time - are either ignorant to the underlying strategy, or for some reason don't think it's a big deal.

Again, the media cares more about the political turmoil itself, than the reasons for the turmoil. The battle sells, so it's in their corporate interest to ignore the issues and focus on the gossip. It's TMZ style he-said-she-said, instead of actual journalism.

Being a legit reporter is just sooooo haaarrrrrdddd. *faints*

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | November 29, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I'm thinking it's no coincidence that this exceptionalism talk is coming out during the period when Republicans are planning to block the START treaty. Could it be a bid to give them some cover over what is a blatantly partisan act that weakens U.S. security?

Posted by: mthand111 | November 29, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

The only think Obama believes in is "Obama exceptionalism" - his own ego.

.

Posted by: RainintheForest | November 29, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I love the feigned ignorance and naivete from the right on this issue. The "these are valid criticisms of policy" comment is such total BS, it is hard to imagine that anyone can make it with a straight face.

The contortions required to argue "death panels" as a valid policy argument. That "government takeover of health care" is a valid policy argument. That "Obama is a socialist" is a valid policy argument.... and on and on are laughable. What was the one about his Kenyan anger driving his policies?

I guess the pain of being twisted into a "valid" pretzel is worth the power that the right believes it will return to them.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 29, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Greg,
By cherry-picking quotes and gratuitously omitting others (a bipartisan problem to be sure), you come off as particularly disingenuous. There are numerous, documented, examples that the right uses to support its claim that BO may not embrace USA's exceptionalism: Rev. Wright, his ongoing apology tour (a MM reference, EGADS!), his wife's "proud of America" line, etc. Further, after 2 years hearing how criticism of anything BO does is racism, I find it particularly galling that you try it again, under cover your "not one of us" phrasing. There are substantive differences between BO (and his acolytes) views and those who wish to unseat him, much of it owing to the changes he has brought to Washington (ie. rammed down our throats in unprecendented power-grabs). I find it surprising you went the lazy route in trying to define those.

Posted by: bzod9999 | November 29, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

sbj sez:

"It is possible to believe that Obama is a great American who understands American exceptionalism (in an intellectual sense) but who is nevertheless leading this country in the wrong direction due to his liberal policies."

Perhaps, but his critics are saying he does NOT understand American exceptionalism and does NOT understand America.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | November 29, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

"The real goal is to hint that you should find Obama's character, story, motives and identity to be fundamentally alien, unsettling, and insidious."

No, Greg, the "real goal" is the destruction of Liberalism. Destroying Obama is just a means. Remember the Cons' sustaining syllogism:

1. Obama is a Liberal (even though he isn't).
2. Obama will fail (because the Cons will make sure of it).
3. Because Obama Obama is a Liberal and a failure, Liberalism is a failure.

The Cons' solution? Plutocracy. Big Government fused with Big Money and the American People paying all the costs.

Posted by: wbgonne | November 29, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

@Kevin

Your post reads like a Escher lithograph looks.

The fact that you had to contort your argument so much in an attempt to show it's a legit attack or that Dems do it too, seems to prove the opposite.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | November 29, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

"Team identification is wired very deeply into our psyches. When it comes down to it, human beings are and remain deeply tribal, no matter how elaborate and intellectualized our justifications are for our tribal loyalties."

Shorter KW:

"Republicans, myself included, don't believe in American exceptionalism. They believe in tribal loyalties and provincialism."

Posted by: Ethan2010 | November 29, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Right on Greg. I saw that clip of Bachmann getting grilled about whether she really believed Obama was anti-American and she finally said some of the legislation is anti-capitalist and "unfamiliar" to Americans. I thought it an odd way to characterize it, but you're absolutely right, it's the common subtext. Methinks Obama has a better grasp of America than most on the right, who worship a caricature of it.

Posted by: Justwondering14 | November 29, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

@mthand111

"I'm thinking it's no coincidence that this exceptionalism talk is coming out during the period when Republicans are planning to block the START treaty. Could it be a bid to give them some cover over what is a blatantly partisan act that weakens U.S. security?"


*DING DING DING DING DING* - We have a winner!

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | November 29, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

bzod9999's post above is a text book example of Fox talking points applied to a salient critique of right wing ideology.

It's letter perfect.

Congrats.

Posted by: BGinCHI | November 29, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

For those who like to wave their flags and chant USA! USA! I say to give some thought to what this country would have been if Japan and Europe had not decimated themselves in two world wars . Show some damn humility.
The whole myth of American exceptionalism will only become more pronounced as many Americans cling to their flags and other symbols and myths as we continue to sink into an economic morass, and become more absorbed in our media circus . A morass that has been in the making by the GOP since Reagan’s first term. It has seen a continued class warfare assault on the middle and working classes of this country.

Posted by: filmnoia | November 29, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

@Ethan2010: "Shorter KW: Republicans, myself included, don't believe in American exceptionalism. They believe in tribal loyalties and provincialism."

The whole "Shorter Whoever I'm Trying to Misquote" gambit might work better if you didn't insist on intentionally missing the point while simultaneously have nothing interesting to say on the subject. You're at once almost perfectly wrong, while offering nothing new or interesting in terms of perspective or insight.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 29, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

All, new Adam Serwer post going after Thiessen on torture:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/11/draft_1.html

...and thx, justwondering.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | November 29, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

"It is possible to believe that Obama is a great American who understands American exceptionalism (in an intellectual sense) but who is nevertheless leading this country in the wrong direction due to his liberal policies."

Perhaps, but his critics are saying he does NOT understand American exceptionalism and does NOT understand America.


______________________________

Exactly, the CIA has a series of simple tests which they quietly give to people to see if they are Americans or spies trying to pass as Americans.

One thing is how one holds a cigarette.

Another item was to steer the conversation toward certain words - and see if the potential spy was using the British version or the American - since many foreigners learned the British version of words - for instance, instead of using "elevator," they may say "lift" or instead of "line" they say "queue"


Well, "throwing a baseball" is one of those items. Obama doesn't know how to throw a baseball.


The "57 States" is also telling, there are 57 Islamic States.

Posted by: RainintheForest | November 29, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

KW, I don't have to add insight. Your posts are so rich with irony that it only takes a slight bit of rewording on my part to illuminate the hypocrisy and ignorance you have provided us on a silver platter. But hey, don't blame me! According to you I, like everyone else, believe in tribal loyalties, not the "team" of the United States of America. So you can just blame my comments on that and feel secure in your bubble of idiocy.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | November 29, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

American exceptionalism:unique among Western democracies in, absence of universal healthcare provision,basic workers rights for paid leave with respect to holidays, illness and maternity,capital punishment,the presence of a bewildering number of security agencies to police it's citizens and everybody else's,gargantuan military spending,a legislature utterly and unashamedly in thrall to vested interest,a political elite that conceives all forms of socialism as heresy or treason,religious extremism as a political voting block,
worship of the flag,enormous prison population,the greatest levels of inequality.The opinion of educated Americans with respect to their own country is striking for the lack of insight into it's own black imperial heart which is perfectly understood elsewhere. Those countries in which the bombs fall, and previously fell,with impunity understand well enough what constitutes American exceptionalism.

Posted by: harkingtowardhibernia | November 29, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

@BBQ: "Your post reads like a Escher lithograph looks."

Thank you.

"The fact that you had to contort your argument so much in an attempt to show it's a legit attack or that Dems do it too, seems to prove the opposite."

That wasn't contortion. At least, not for me. Or, at least, not in my head. Sorry if it's hard to follow. Sometimes I'm not the best at articulating what I consider the interesting part of an issue.

And while inherent in my premise is that "x does it, too", that's hardly the point. Rather, I'm asserting that, to some degree, almost everyone does it, and that what we do is tribalism, and that is hardwired into us, and it can offer a lot of insight into why people do the things we do.

Of course, one of the reason we do the things we do is because our perspectives are limited by our membership in our tribes. If we could objectively and accurately see ourselves and our tribes as we are seen from the outside, we'd almost all make at least somewhat different solutions and reach different conclusions.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 29, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Kevin

Normally I respect your opinions here, although we don't often agree, but in this case I think you've taken the "both sides do it" argument to the extreme. There are times in our history when Americans came together, regardless of ideology, to work in our common interest. Obama was elected with a clear majority during a moment in history as bad as almost any we've seen. I for one resent the sleazy attempts to paint him as illegitimate. From the beginning Republicans have painted him as alien to our core beliefs as Americans and by doing so may have irrevocably damaged not only our recovery but our standing in the world. One of the most exceptional factors of the 2008 election was that it happened at all but unfortunately it was very short lived.

I believe Obama is clinging to his hope to bring Americans together and may have been successful if given half a chance. My hope now is that he realizes there will be no compromise and proceeds knowing he's essentially on his own and govern according to his principles. There is much that can be done with the power of the Presidency to improve the lives of ordinary Americans. I hope he has the courage of his convictions and is able to somehow circumvent those whose only goal is his failure.

Posted by: lmsinca | November 29, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Rainintheforest: I can't even begin to respond to your nonsense about baseball throwing and 57 states comments....really, that's some deep paranoia.

Greg, you are spot on with this article, and I would go so far as to include US businesses as well in this. We bailed them out with cheap cash and they now sit on their hoard and pay out billions in bonuses to people who don't deserve it. They are whining because they don't think Obama likes them. Are they kidding?

We need to point out every day, every day, to the media, to anyone who will listen, that there is a concerted effort on the right to bring down a President, any way they can. They couldn't get Clinton, so they are trying other tactics with Obama. Whoever noted that it is liberalism they are after, you are completely correct. Hillary wasn't nuts--there really is a vast right wing conspiracy--it's just deftly hidden.

Posted by: LAB2 | November 29, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

BGinCHI,
If GS's "salient critique of RW ideology" once again boils down to racism and your critique of my comments boils down to playing the Fox News card (which I don't watch, btw), then it is you who deserves the congrats, fine sir, for your own laser-like insight and analysis.

So, congrats.

Posted by: bzod9999 | November 29, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

In the coming year, I expect to see vast numbers of commercials filled with flags, white kids with puppies, and old people sitting on their front porches with their VFW hats perched on their heads....all the while, lies about Obama being scrolled on the bottom of the screen...

Posted by: LAB2 | November 29, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

"there really is a vast right wing conspiracy--it's just deftly hidden."

If you are interested in this subject, I highly recommend "Invisible Hands" by Prof. Kim Phillips-Fein. That will bring you from the NEw Deal to Reagan. If anyone can recommend a book on the Cons' post-Reagan tightening grip on control -- Fox News, the Chamber of Commerce, the neutralization of the Democratic Party -- I'd be grateful.

Posted by: wbgonne | November 29, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

bzod9999, that's hilarious. OK, Fox plus talk radio then.

No one here is going to believe you say Obama has "rammed things down our throats" and has made "power grabs" as well as referencing Michelle Obama's comment without any context without knowing just where that stuff comes from.

Fail.

Posted by: BGinCHI | November 29, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

American exceptionalism did not start, and could not start, until we ended slavery.

The teahadists want to return to the "Lost Constitution." For them, this excludes the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments.

Hitler also wanted to "take back" his country. Hitler also ranted about exceptionalism. Hitler too claimed that questioning Aryan exceptionalism was treason. Hitler also ranted about some Germans not being "real" Germans. Instead of asking for birth certificates, Hitler asked for genealogies.

If we're so great, how do we explain Sarah Palin?

Posted by: Garak | November 29, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

This "exceptionalism" nonsense is nothing more than the recycling of the flag pin nontroversy the right dreamt up in the lead up to the presidential election.

You know, if republicans ever put half as much effort into addressing the real problems facing this nation as they do to creating non issues, we as a nation might actually live up to standards of national exceptionalism. What's so "exceptional" about being ranked 12th in college graduation rate? C'mon, everybody now...we're number 12, we're number 12.

Posted by: notfooledbydistractions1 | November 29, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

@lmsinca: "Normally I respect your opinions here, although we don't often agree, but in this case I think you've taken the '"both sides do it' argument to the extreme."

Well, that's certainly possible. It's also possible that I'm not being clear as to what I'm talking about.

"There are times in our history when Americans came together, regardless of ideology, to work in our common interest."

And part of that was done by successfully appealing to tribal loyalties. Against common enemies, as in WWII, for example. But during the Great Depression, for example, there was some coming together, but mostly there was a resounding defeat of one tribe, and more people joined the victorious tribe (functional tribes are always open to converts). There was plenty of opposition to the New Deal and Roosevelt, for example, when our historical assessment might be that "America came together", when, in fact, one tribe simply defeated the other, soundly and completely. Most of the time--in the case of Roosevelt, even he wasn't able to pack the supreme court to his liking.

"Obama was elected with a clear majority during a moment in history as bad as almost any we've seen. I for one resent the sleazy attempts to paint him as illegitimate."

Agreed.

"I believe Obama is clinging to his hope to bring Americans together and may have been successful if given half a chance."

It's very difficult to trump tribal loyalties.

"There is much that can be done with the power of the Presidency to improve the lives of ordinary Americans. I hope he has the courage of his convictions and is able to somehow circumvent those whose only goal is his failure."

That would be a much better strategy than trying to work with Republicans. I'm certainly not suggesting anything different.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 29, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Kevin,

Do you at all realize that your tribalism comments prove the fact that you don't actually believe in American Exceptionalism?

Can't you see the obvious irony? You are using "tribalism" as an excuse for the fact Republicans put their political party over the good of their own country.

Or, are you consciously implying that part of American Exceptionalism is the fact the Republican Party believes in tribalism over country? In other words, America is SO exceptional that Americans don't even have to care about what happens to America as much as we do our 'team.' Is that what you're saying? Because that's not 'exceptional,' it's idiotic and runs totally counter to the reasons why the United States of America was founded in the first place.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | November 29, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Sister Sarah's Prayer:

Please god deliver us from the tyranny of healthy food and return us to the Promised Land of childhood obesity. Have a doughnut and let freedom ring!

Posted by: wbgonne | November 29, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

"It's very difficult to trump tribal loyalties."

I don't see how anyone can read that other than to say that Republicans care more about their political party than they do the good of the country.

The irony in this conversation is literally outrageous.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | November 29, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

How come everyone from the right denies watching Fox? I'm starting to wonder if the ratings claiming that Fox News is the #1 cable news outlet must not be the result of ballot stuffing much like Bristol Palin's gig on DWTS.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 29, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

bzod states:

"There are substantive differences between BO (and his acolytes) views and those who wish to unseat him, much of it owing to the changes he has brought to Washington (ie. rammed down our throats in unprecendented power-grabs). I find it surprising you went the lazy route in trying to define those."

Posted by: bzod9999 | November 29, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Well, hold on there, sir! Was it not the Bush administration that said in 2004/2005 that "elections have consequences"? Meaning, in a more direct form, we won, now shut the heck up.

Your form of patriotism and discourse is dangerous to our country, in that you use arguments that sound like you are being reasonable, and that you have evaluated both pros and cons of a particular position, when, in fact, your approach is to simply apply what seems reasonable to an argument that simply reinforces your beliefs.

I'd agree with your statement about differing policy objectives, except for one fact - the only thing I've heard coming from the right are ad-hominem attacks against the President, and irrational fears about where his policies may take us.

And, come to think of it, if you REALLY think that Republicans are that much different than Democrats, you're not really paying much attention.

Posted by: JohnDinHouston | November 29, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

@Ethan2010:

"Do you at all realize that your tribalism comments prove the fact that you don't actually believe in American Exceptionalism?"

You are incorrect, but I can see how it might appear that way to you.

"Can't you see the obvious irony? You are using 'tribalism' as an excuse for the fact Republicans put their political party over the good of their own country."

That is also incorrect.

I'm not excusing or defending anything. Rather, I am analyzing. Interesting that you cannot tell the difference.

Re: American Exceptionalism as it relates to tribalism. Tribalism can be nationalized. There's no reason an entire country can't see itself as all members of a tribe (though this is tricky, because of the scale). But, arguably, believers in American exceptionalism at some level see them as members of the American tribe (and, specifically, the tribe of American exceptionalists). But tribalism would tend to explain why there are few shades of gray between "America, F*** Yeah!" and "America is a 3rd rate country (because of this sub-tribe)! And American exceptionalists are all idiots."

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 29, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

@garak: "Hitler also wanted to 'take back' his country."

So did Howard Dean. So did Jerry Brown and Jesse Jackson. So did Katrina Vanden Heuvel. So did Hillary Clinton! As did Andrew Jackson, if I'm not mistaken.

But excellent comparisons. I'm sure you and Glenn Beck would find loads to talk about.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 29, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I have a problem with "American Exceptionalism" - to me it smacks of arrogance; inferring we are superior to other democracies.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_exceptionalism

Posted by: rm8471 | November 29, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Kevin

I think one of the problems with your "tribalism" argument is that the obstruction we've seen over the last two years flies in the face of normal compromise the two parties typically engage in. Many of the policies Dems have passed or hoped to pass were previously approved by or even campaigned on by conservatives. It's difficult for many of us to view these transgressions as mere partisanship. What other conclusion can we draw other than a hope for this President to fail?

Posted by: lmsinca | November 29, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Blind faith, wrapping yourself in the flag, and slogans are a lot easier than thinking and solving problems.

Posted by: jckdoors | November 29, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

then there is this:
==============
Please god deliver us from the tyranny of healthy food and return us to the Promised Land of childhood obesity. Have a doughnut and let freedom ring!

=========================

this is an amazing example of two incorrect assumptions:
the first incorrect assumption is that it is NOT tyranny when the government tells the citizens what they may or may not eat. It certainly is. Any diminution of our rights by our government must meet a high standard of state's interest. When the citizens dig in their heels and demand that the process which will lead us to total tyranny stop, then liberals such as the one quoted above have nothing to offer except condescencion.

Next, it should be noted that the most egregious examples of the trend toward tyranny are all based on liberal dogma. I've noted before that the government took it upon itself to dictate the type of lightbulb we may use based on the dogma of man made global warming.

the strictures on happy meals is aimed at one of the left's most favored victim groups: welfare clients. If the poor are fat, well then a argument can be made that they are not, in fact, materially poor. How could they be if they have more than enough to eat? Liberals with a strategic view of life might find obesity and adult onset diabetes among the "poor" to be very problematic when the discussion of tax hikes comes around again.

Further, it is liberal dogma that poor people can't make effective choices, that's why they are poor (concepts like spiritual poverty or outright sloth have no place in the liberal doctrine), Therefore the gummint must chose for them. And if that costs the rest of us some liberty, so what? You got something against poor people pal? How about black people? Or brown people? Why your desire to assure that Mc Donalds can put whatever the heck they please into a happy meal smacks of racism, as does your criticism of the duly elected president./sarc

it should be noted that the happy meal ban was the brain child of the SanFran city council. I had the opportunity to live in Alameda about 25 years ago. the city council then also tried to ban fast foods. That time they said that such establishments tarnished the city's gastronomic reputation. yeah, right.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | November 29, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

JohnDinHouston,
My discourse is dangerous to our country? The ONLY thing you've heard is ad hominem attacks against the President? Irrational fears? Wow.

Posted by: bzod9999 | November 29, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Attacking the opposition as a dangerous outsider is as old as the Republic itself. Probably older.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | November 29, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

All, my take on Obama's pay freeze announcement:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/11/will_pay_freeze_strengthen_oba.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | November 29, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

"who is nevertheless leading this country in the wrong direction due to his liberal policies."
_______________________________________

Which one?

Posted by: Patzer111 | November 29, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

@pragmaticagain: "How come everyone from the right denies watching Fox? I'm starting to wonder if the ratings claiming that Fox News is the #1 cable news outlet must not be the result of ballot stuffing much like Bristol Palin's gig on DWTS."

Compare how many people watch Fox, CNN, or MSNBC, versus the American population. I'm sure if you granulized those groups and tried to figure out how many people spent 5 hours or more online a day that watched Fox (or CNN, or MSNBC) with any regularity would be vanishingly small. I watch a little more Fox than MSNBC, occasionally watch Headline News, but most of my news I get off the intertubes.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 29, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

They can say what they want but I believe in my heart it comes down to the color of his skin.

People say "he was raised in Hawaii; he went to school in a foreign country; his father was from Kenya; etc.; etc.". However, Hawaii is in the US; lots of US citizens go to school in foreign countries (parents in the military); many US citizens have parents from another country (military marry while stationed outside US).

So all of this leaves me with one conclusion - race matters.

Posted by: rlj1 | November 29, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

@lmsinca: "I think one of the problems with your 'tribalism' argument is that the obstruction we've seen over the last two years flies in the face of normal compromise the two parties typically engage in."

Well, at some level, one could argue it's an increase in tribalism. Which would not be inconsistent with blind obstruction at all.

"Many of the policies Dems have passed or hoped to pass were previously approved by or even campaigned on by conservatives."

You can't get any more tribal than that. "This magic stone is good when it is ours! Now that it is theirs, it is bad, and must be destroyed!"

"It's difficult for many of us to view these transgressions as mere partisanship."

What else would you see them as? Legitimate objections based on a careful reading of the policy?

"What other conclusion can we draw other than a hope for this President to fail?"

A hope for the entire party (re: tribus democraticus) to fail?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 29, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

"his wife's "proud of America" line"
______________________________________

This had nothing to do with American exceptionalism, except perhaps to point out that the Obamas are indeed exceptional in the world as anything is possible here, now, including a black man getting elected president. So, actually, she was saying "This really IS a great country!" but you're not seeing it that way because you don't want to. And she was also pointing out that African-Americans may have, I don't know, not felt too warm and fuzzy about American politics given their history (ever read about it?).

Now, name me one of his policies that's "Liberal." Please.

Posted by: Patzer111 | November 29, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

After the invasion of Iraq and Abu Ghraib, anyone who believes in American "exceptionalism" is suffering from cognitive dissonance.

The United States is not exceptional in any way, shape or form, nor is it inherently better than any other democratic form of government.

Posted by: jvlem | November 29, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Well, "throwing a baseball" is one of those items. Obama doesn't know how to throw a baseball.

The "57 States" is also telling, there are 57 Islamic States.

Posted by: RainintheForest | November 29, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

//////////////////
Maybe you challenge him to a game of basketball and we will watch him slam dunk your bigoted ass-ole through a tiny hoop then figure out how unAmerican was that.

Posted by: Citi__Street | November 29, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

@rlji: "They can say what they want but I believe in my heart it comes down to the color of his skin."

Hmm. Well, I didn't vote for him. But I like him. I think he's the best Democratic president we've had in a long time. I think he's doing some good stuff and, even where I disagree, I think he's sincere in wanting to do the right thing and work with Republicans to get things done.

So, I think that stuff because of the color of his skin? And if I'd vote for Obama over Huckabee but would definitely vote for Chris Christie instead of Obama, is it because Huckabee is not white enough for me, or is it because Chris Christie is ultra-super white or . . . what, exactly?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 29, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

The Republic Party's new low in cynical propaganda is "exceptionalism."

What makes America "exceptional"? It's our Constitution, and how it enshrines each American's right to be a free individual.

However, the Republic Party despises the Contitution, because it prevents them and the corporations from impoverishing the middle class and removing its voting power.

As Dumya once said, our Constitution is just a "g-d damned piece of paper."

The Republic Party's cynically named "Patriot" law, which they jammed down our throats with 9/11 as their excuse, circumvents just about every right we have in our Constitution. Their "Patriot" act allows the government they profess to hate to spy on normal Americans at will and whim. And the Republic Party's government under Dumya expanded the spy apparatus accordingly to handle the mass surveillance of ordinary Americans.

So you Republic Party hypocrites, you power freaks, your "exceptionalism" is hating our Constitution and how it is meant to protect ordinary people from the fascist likes of you.

Posted by: mongolovesheriff | November 29, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

What exactly do the Palinites and the hysterical right wing mean by "exceptional ism?
It used to be "my country right or wrong", which at least implicitly, recognized that the country could be wrong. Could the hysterics on the "right" really be arguing that the country can never be wrong? If so they should quit criticizing THIS President and OUR government, which was elected by a clear majority of the voters and the electoral college (unlike the last one, of course).

Beck likes to decry the genocide of the Native Americans and has even criticized Andrew Jackson for his role, does he not believe in American exceptionalism? How about slavery, even Condi Rice called it "America's birth defect" perpetuated by the pantheon of the "founding fathers". Women have only been allowed to vote nationally for less than 100 years. My country, never wrong?

Are they saying, as I'm sure some of them are, that America has replaced the Jews as God's chosen people? Therefore we can do no wrong? Let them make and defend that argument.

Those who hang their criticism of the President on this "exceptionalism" hat are truly thoughtless ciphers, who, hoping to damage this President, damage us all.

Posted by: wildcat1 | November 29, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

@lmsinca: Many of the policies Dems have passed or hoped to pass were previously approved by or even campaigned on by conservatives.

@KW: You can't get any more tribal than that. "This magic stone is good when it is ours! Now that it is theirs, it is bad, and must be destroyed!"

Yet another ham-handed rationalization by Kevin for why the Republican Party cares more about their "tribe" than they do what's right for America. Now it's dressed up in language that implies that, for example, Democrats passed HCR because of tribalism and not because of problems in this country.

Kevin's "tribalism" comments do more to exhibit why the Republican Party is so despicable than anything I could say on my own. It is quite clear that Kevin and the Republican Party care more about their "tribe" than they do about America, the country. It is, after all, precisely what he is arguing even when he is projecting Republican thoughts onto Democratic Party action.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | November 29, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

A nation is in a sorry state when it comes to believe its own myths about itself. And it is in even deeper trouble when one political party decides to secede from a rational part in governing. This is a civll war, folks. Only this time there are no equivalents to the passionate abolishionists and unionists who will oppose this arrogant action by the GOP. America is in a fight for its democratic life. The Republicans spent 8 years trying to destroy Clinton and they are more than willing to put the country at risk in order to destroy Obama. To what end? A Permanent Republican Regime -- i.e. fascism. Doesn't anyone else remember?

Posted by: 85edwardearthlinknet | November 29, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

A nation is in a sorry state when it comes to believe its own myths about itself. And it is in even deeper trouble when one political party decides to secede from a rational part in governing. This is a civll war, folks. Only this time there are no equivalents to the passionate abolishionists and unionists who will oppose this arrogant action by the GOP. America is in a fight for its democratic life. The Republicans spent 8 years trying to destroy Clinton and they are more than willing to put the country at risk in order to destroy Obama. To what end? A Permanent Republican Regime -- i.e. fascism. Doesn't anyone else remember?

Posted by: 85edwardearthlinknet | November 29, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Good point made here, Greg. We'll note that Obama bows to foreign leaders while pretending to tie his shoelaces. Also (Palin just pulled this one out again) his wife wasn't proud of America until two years ago. And how could such a "leader" be strong on defending an America that he doesn't think much of? It's a package, riding on top of some very old stuff.

Posted by: bernielatham | November 29, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Looks like Young Greg got his daily memo from the WH asking for his help, which being a responsible young man, he couldn't resist.

Good job, Young Greg. Hey, any plans for when you grow up and have to figure out things for yourself?

Posted by: tom75 | November 29, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Kevin_Willis - in response to your response to my earlier post.

No I do NOT believe that if you don't or didn't vote for Obama that it's because of the color of his skin. However, my post stated why many critize him is not legitimate.

Posted by: rlj1 | November 29, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

@Ethan2010: "Yet another ham-handed rationalization by Kevin for why the Republican Party cares more about their 'tribe' than they do what's right for America."

Wrong. Again!

"Now it's dressed up in language that implies that, for example, Democrats passed HCR because of tribalism and not because of problems in this country."

It doesn't imply that, and I'm not saying that.

"Kevin's 'tribalism' comments do more to exhibit why the Republican Party is so despicable than anything I could say on my own."

Well, you're welcome.

"It is quite clear that Kevin and the Republican Party care more about their 'tribe' than they do about America, the country."

That may be clear to you, but, if that's your take away, I'm communicating poorly.

"It is, after all, precisely what he is arguing even when he is projecting Republican thoughts onto Democratic Party action."

Everything in that sentence is wrong.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 29, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Interesting comments about fascism, which nowadays is considered to be more connected with far left activities than the right. After all, the Nazis were National Socialists who usurped industry and media to their own ends, taking their cues from Soviet Russia where Americans from The Nation and the NYT were lauding the U.S.S.R.'s "great experiment."

Conversely, there isn't a single country that has swayed far right into anything even vaguely resembling facism that arose from embracing an America-styled modern conservative approach that worships the sanctity of free markets and media.

Facism and communism are one and the same and both exist on a spectrum that includes socialism and the extreme entitlement liberalism of Europe and the American left.

Posted by: tom75 | November 29, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Here you go liberals, what your ilk were writing about in The Nation as recently as '46, a magazine now managed by WaPo's own vanden Heuval, the heir of one of the richest sheet music mafias in NYC.

Posted by: tom75 | November 29, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

"After all, the Nazis were National Socialists who usurped industry"

The Nazis created a plutocracy just like the Right Wing Extremists have done here in the United States.

"and media to their own ends"

Fox News.

Wake up, Brother.

Posted by: wbgonne | November 29, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Ethan

I'm pretty sure Kevin is not defending American exceptionalism (though I wish he would, because he is so articulate) but is providing a rational for why he thinks people ascribe to it. I believe in American Exceptionalism (so much so that I even capitalized the E), and also subscribe to Kevin's rational. That position (one that Kevin has, at least not publicly, not subscribed too) would be more worthy of your ire.

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | November 29, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I don't have any problem with seeing the U.S. as an exceptional country. It's when that exhaulted sense of uniqueness leads to the invasion of other countries and abandonment of international law that I see a problem.

Posted by: MidwaySailor76 | November 29, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Given that Mitt Romney must believe in Mormon exceptionalism (since Mormons feel it's their duty to baptize all of the world's dead people into their religion), it's pretty much impossible to take seriously anything he says.

Add to that the utter and complete weirdness of LDS doctrine -- and the fortune spent by the senile Mormon autocracy to cover up all the embarrassments their gopher-hole mentality has resulted in over the years -- and it's difficult to conclude that these are people who should be involved in making federal policy and managing the federal purse.

It's highly unlikely that Romney's silly book is going to make a difference to his political aspirations.

Posted by: haveaheart | November 29, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

What kind of patriot refuses to pay taxes or lift a finger to support his country or help his fellow citizen? What kind of patriot slanders his commander-in-chief with ridiculous lies? What kind of patriot wants his government and his country to fail, so people will suffer, so that their perverted party can take advantage of the misery? No patriot does these things. Only Republicans do these things.

Posted by: DaveHarris | November 29, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

"America-styled modern conservative approach that worships the sanctity of free markets and media."

Key word - "sanctity".

There's a dingy one-story factory on the outskirts of Waco, Texas that extrudes these people.

Posted by: bernielatham | November 29, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Sargeant rails like conservatives are doing something new. The politician and the words used change, but this is standard operating behavior for all sides in politics.

Libs often use a line of attack something like this against aloof conservatives:
"He/she doesn't understand the struggles, goals and values of ordinary Americans."

Bush I was attacked repeatedly along these lines.

Conservatives are saying essentially the same thing about President Obama.

This line of attack doesn't work all the time. It only works, if there is something about the person's behavior that make it ring true. Once the public begins to see a connection to a poltician's behavior, everyone piles on. That's what's happening to Obama now.

Bush I did sometimes act aloof and upper class. Clinton never would have been elected, if he hadn't painted Bush I that way and if Bush I hadn't been such an easy target.

American exceptionalism and Obama's perceived favorable treatment to Islam are working now, because President Obama sometimes acts aloof and as part of an internationalist class. Obama exudes moral/cultural relativism.

Some people like Obama, because of these qualities. Others don't. Elections are about how many people fall into either camp.

Mr. Sargeant can scream from now to dooms day, but Bush I was viewed as elitist and Obama will be viewed as a internationalist/relativist.

Bush and Obama might be wonderful people, but both have given their political opponents the paint and brushes to paint believable portaits.

The lesson is: Don't hand your political opponents a gun and then complain they are using it.

Posted by: jfv123 | November 29, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Here you go liberals, what your ilk were writing about in The Nation as recently as '46

In a 1946 article about Stalin's postwar purges ("The Soviets Clean House") Walter Duranty explained to The Nation's
progressive readers that "purge" meant "to cleanse" in Russian, and that a house cleaning was all Stalin intended. In Duranty's memorable words, Stalin had launched "a general cleaning out of the cobwebs and mess which accumulate in any house when its occupants are so deeply preoccupied withsomething else that they have to time to keep it in order." At the height of this house cleaning, Stalin was killing 20,000 Russian citizens a month. But according to The Nation (in 1946 as
today) the main danger facing humanity was
the incipient fascism of the West.

Source, David Horowitz of FrontPageMag. Note that Duranty won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting for NYT while studiously ignoring and not reporting on the Ukranian starvation epidemic that ultimately claimed some millions of deaths.

This is your left, people, a lying group of weasels who've seen first communism, then socialism, and now entitlement liberalism wash down the drain and yet you are still defending it as Europe, it's greatest practioner is peeling back its own entitlement system. It'd be funny if it wasn't so sad.

Posted by: tom75 | November 29, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Well stated. The comments of disavowal seem confirmatory to me in both tone and content.

Would that the media had acquired this insight a bit earlier, more cogently, and chronicled it more often. Now we are faced with the "rooted" nature of this blatant behavior pattern. The first two years of the Obama administration were a study in not only this pattern of discounting the President but also the media's near total inability to see through the flim flam and challenge the purveyors. After the damage is done seems a bit late to register this stunning insight.

Posted by: pbkritek | November 29, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

LAB@ wrote:
"Hillary wasn't nuts--there really is a vast right wing conspiracy--it's just deftly hidden."

==============================

If it's so deftly hidden...how do you know its vastness?

I can't believe you could write this:

"I can't even begin to respond to your nonsense about baseball throwing and 57 states comments....really, that's some deep paranoia"

and then scribble out the BS you ended with.

Posted by: PanhandleWilly | November 29, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

daveharris wrote:

"What kind of patriot slanders his commander-in-chief with ridiculous lies?"

and then writes:

"No patriot does these things. Only Republicans do these things."

==============================

Really Dave...really? What planet were you on from 2000 to 2008?

Posted by: PanhandleWilly | November 29, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

"And after it became obvious that the President was doing everything
in his power to make the world safe for nationalism
his brilliant military mind never having realized that nationalism
itself was the idiotic superstition which would blow up the world"

TENTATIVE DESCRIPTION OF A DINNER GIVEN TO PROMOTE
THE IMPEACHMENT OF PRESIDENT EISENHOWER
Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Posted by: jbowen431 | November 29, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

"The real goal is to hint that you should find Obama's character, story, motives and identity to be fundamentally alien, unsettling, and insidious."

Oh please. This new made up controversy that the left is peddling is the most pathetic yet.

The real goal of narrow minded partisan hacks like Sargent is to discredit all dissent against the President as being illegitimate. Let's hope the professional left continues to direct the conversation on these utter non-issues. They sure as heck don't seem interested in talking about any meaningful issues.

Posted by: bobmoses | November 29, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Great analysis. But Obama is not like me (or us). He's smarter, better educated, more articulate, more strategic, better read, more physically fit, has a better command of the issues, and is possibly better looking (despite the ears and the scar on his lip). Why would anyone want someone like the generic us to be our leader? What is the matter with us!!!!

Posted by: jeankammerer | November 29, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Plum, you are wrong as are many of WaPo's hack writers often are. It is not a matter of what others say about Obama's belief in "American exceptionalism."

On the subject, Obama himself said that he thought other nations thought they were exceptional, but he never would state clearly that American is an exceptional nation.

That's because he does not believe America is exceptional. He is still stuck in his ambition to "fundamentally transform America" to more effectively "spread the wealth."

Plum, why not listen to what Obama himself says, rather than try to reconstruct his thoughts yourself?

It does not matter what the Republicans say either. It's what Obama thinks and says that's the problem.

Stop trying to cover for Obama and the Dems and try to be a little more objective. Oh, I forgot, covering for Obama and the Dems is the mission of WaPo.

What a shame. WaPo was at one time an excellent newspaper. You'd better keep your resume up to date.

With the way WaPo is losing circulation and advertising, it may be for sale soon, like it's sister publication, Newsweek, which sold for $1.00 -- that's right, one dollar, which is about what it was worth.

Maybe you can go to work for Obama for two years; he likes left-wing hacks like you and your fellow writers at WaPo.

Posted by: RonKH | November 29, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

I find the beliefs of the extreme conservatives to be "fundamentally alien, unsettling, and insidious."

Posted by: janye1 | November 29, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

@TMWN: "Kevin ... is providing a rational for why he thinks people ascribe to it."

Actually, his "tribalism" comments were a rational for why Republicans do NOT ascribe to it. If they ascribed to it, they would put what is right for AMERICA above what is right for the Republican Party. As the many examples on this one thread alone show, this is plainly not the case.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | November 29, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

daveharris wrote:

"What kind of patriot slanders his commander-in-chief with ridiculous lies?"

and then writes:

"No patriot does these things. Only Republicans do these things."

==============================

Really Dave...really? What planet were you on from 2000 to 2008?

Posted by: PanhandleWilly

=====================================

Remember the Left never engages in hate speech or vitriol. So when documentaries were out fantasying Bush's assassination they were speaking "Truth to Power."

Posted by: bbface21 | November 29, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

This is a time for bipartisanship and cooperation in order to handle the difficulties this country is facing. What is going on in Korea and China's unsubtle fanning of the flames scares me. Pollution, global warming are problems, as well as unemployment and a poor educational system. The gap between rich and poor widens while medical care in this country is inadequate and costly for a very large number of citizens. Hatred of immigrants is replacing demands for well run government and freedom to be entrepreneural. The system of taxation is skewed and a morass with fairness non-existent. The wilileaks are a problem even though we know other countries compile the same sort of assessments. The GOP seems to hate President Obama and that hatred encompasses his political party, his alleged liberalism, and most notably his "race." The fact that some conservatives have openly rejoiced and hoped for disaster even though it would affect conservative White Republicans as well as those not of the saved brethern futher frightens me. No one party or group within the US can survive while throwing the others into perdition. In response I refuse to stoop to hatred and attempts to demean and destroy Republicans--I figure the American public will sooner rather than later clunk all the politicians and hanger ons heads together and demand they stick to the art of the possible instead of hatred and name calling. I have faith that the ordinary citizen will soon say, "Have you no shame, Republicans and Democrats (with some independents thrown in)? Have you no shame?"

Posted by: and6754 | November 29, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Sargent, thank you for making it plain. Racism is alive and well in the US, especially in the government chambers of D.C. Sadly, it is also taking priority over the good of the country. Were it not,at least SOME of the President's policies we know will benefit the country would be approved. Instead, it's NO to everything, people and country be damned. If anything should be opposed, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, it's the continued employment and freedom of the same people in our federal financial bureaucracy who helped greedy bankers destroy our economic system and many lives in the process. But getting back to your column, it appears the anti-American Republican delegation has sold America down the river. God have mercy on them and us.

Posted by: dxjones | November 29, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

"None of these words from the President, of course, has stopped folks on the right from citing this news conference as proof of Obama's belief in America's unexceptionalism."
----------------------------------------------

I cite the radical right as proof of modern American unexceptionalism.

Posted by: CalD | November 29, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Ah, the specter of racism and lack of ideas in the American Right. What a shock. I am not happy with a good number of Obama's decisions, yet he is clearly the first real grown up to sit in the oval office for many years. That's why so many in this country of virtual children are unhappy with him.

Posted by: maf53 | November 29, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

I don't agree with everything President Obama does, or has done.

But let me refer the Republicans to an excerpt of their current political platform. I, the governed, do not agree with your self-appointed "Chosenness," particularly in the context of your throwback to manifest destiny.

It was interesting to watch as all of you rushed to raise money on the Internet and elsewhere (with the same fervor you apply to soliciting campaign contributions) when Congress was voting not to pay for the care of American rescue workers who went above and beyond the call of duty in the wake of 9/11.

Oh wait, you didn't.

Please teach me some "real values" in line with your "exceptionalism."

"Without Apology," of course.


Posted by: mersee | November 29, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

It's priceless how the current Republican party is self-aggrandizing itself as exceptionalists on the one hand while at the same time threatening Republican elder statesman and Senator Lugar - the only sane individual left in the Republican party.

Shameful.

Posted by: jKO2010 | November 29, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

To bginchi: You probably shouldn't bring up the deficit. Obama is on a pace to do in 3 yrs, the exact same thing that took Bush two full terms.

Posted by: icanhandlethetruth | November 29, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Conservatives' invocation of "American exceptionalism" hints at a psychological need for them to feel that they themselves are exceptional, superior, more American. And others who don't belong to their clique, by extension, are branded as outsiders, inferior, lesser Americans. Today's conservatives are a sad bunch that must always define some as beneath them in order to believe in themselves.

Posted by: wireknob | November 29, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

So, if Sasha studies really hard and gets an A, but someone else never studies and gets an F, she must share--the both get Cs. When everyone is 'exceptional', no one is exceptional. I don't know that our goal is to be exceptional, but, we have been raised to think that if we work hard and keep our noses clean, we could succeed. Obama would have us work hard and give success to others. Now, I understand that a lot of people truly believe that this is 'only fair' (I don't see the 'fairness' in it, but...), but, they must realize that this mentality will certainly kill any efforts to excel. They also must admit that they are socialists, which many proudly do proclaim, but many are shocked and outraged when confronted with that label. The U.S. (and all countries) should enable and nurture the efforts of those who want to 'build a better mousetrap', and those who succeed should be allowed to reap the rewards. No one should be allowed to walk in and take away what someone worked hard for. However, Obama would do that. He knows that 'socialist' is still a dirty word to many, so refuses to describe himself as such, but, his actions and words betray him. I don't object to him embracing that ideology (that is his right), but, I find it frightening that so many have been hoodwinked by him. They must decide whether they want to be forced to share all that they have worked for with people all over the world, or, whether they want to own what they have earned, and decided for themselves whether and to whom they want to give it.

Posted by: coffic | November 29, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

20% of Americans label themselves Liberals.
The same 20% continue to only talk among themselves, congratulate each other on sharing the same "correct" views about America.
Not a second is spent attempting to understand what the hated Right, the Conservatives consider important and why.
"That Obama is not one of us".
It's not the "man" in the WH that matters to the Right....it's the policies and principles and plans the WH occupant has.
I do not understand how such a simple point can be so misunderstood by all Liberals.
Since Liberals seem to be convinced that any criticism of Obama's policies is ACTUALLY a criticism of him personally, I can only conclude that the Liberals support, defend, stretch and create lies about Obama because of their decision to support the man as an individual....and whatever the "man" does must be correct.
Really?
How?
How is it possible to believe that every plan, policy, intended changes coming from any single man...anywhere on Earth...are automatically the best for America.
Is it because Liberals believe they have never made mistakes personally, are incapable of making a mistake and therefore the Liberal in the WH is also incapable of human error?
That is frightening.....believing any human incapable of error.
You 20% keep patting each other on the back.
Did not the lesson of the mid-terms sink in?
Principles and policies matter....NOT individuals personally...regardless of gender or ethnicity.

Posted by: jgsr | November 29, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

jgsr wrote: "It's not the "man" in the WH that matters to the Right....it's the policies and principles and plans the WH occupant has."

Then how come when Obama puts forth policies based on ideas that Republicans once championed, Republicans are suddenly against these same ideas?

Posted by: wireknob | November 29, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

"The real goal is to hint that you should find Obama's character, story, motives and identity to be fundamentally alien, unsettling, and insidious."

You make that sound like it's some kind of secret. I'm a conservative, and I don't "hint" at it at all. I have long since reached the conclusion that Obama's character, story, motives and identity are fundamentally alien, unsettling, and insidious.

Posted by: newshound11 | November 29, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

jgsr wrote: "It's not the "man" in the WH that matters to the Right....it's the policies and principles and plans the WH occupant has."

Then how come when Obama puts forth policies based on ideas that Republicans once championed, Republicans are suddenly against these same ideas?

-----------

jgsr wrote: "How is it possible to believe that every plan, policy, intended changes coming from any single man...anywhere on Earth...are automatically the best for America."

How can it be that every plan, policy, intended change coming from Obama is automatically bad for the country? Because that is the way Republicans have been acting for the past two years.

Posted by: wireknob | November 29, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

OK, Mr "Sargent," you say the issue is whether Mr Obama is or isn't "one of us."

Well, which is it? You never said.

Discuss.

Posted by: silencedogoodreturns | November 29, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

The Right has been playing this game from the very beginning. We've heard that Obama is a (at first ) secret Muslim and now just a Muslim. He's also some type of crypto communist and proto Marxist. They can't say he's not one of us outright because that would look bad coming from a party that is 99% white. So there's this endless campaign seeking to portray him as "the other". And Romney has a special motive because many of his ideas have ended up in the health care reform effort. This is discomfiting for him

Posted by: Waterloo1 | November 29, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Our "forever friends" at the GOP party central have made plain their single goal is to replace Obama. There is no secret strategy here. It does no good to debate anything the GOP says about Obama (as to truth or lies). Progressives (like me) remain true to advancing public education, public health, environmental stewardship and more civil rights (you know for all americans).

Why are GOP partisans so rattled by Obama? Perhaps, it is the successful legislation. Perhaps, it is his Nobel Peace award? These are exceptional accomplishments for any president...

Posted by: rmorris391 | November 29, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Aside from the fact that his mother's family had been in America for generations, Obama is one of us because his father had come to America and he was born here. My mother's family immigrated to America when she was 2 and to say that Obama is not of America is to say that neither she nor I are of America either. Those who say that Obama is not of America have no understanding of America and do not deserve its citizenship. To say that Obama is not of America is to spit on the feet of the Statue of Liberty.

Posted by: slampjak | November 29, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Does no one find it weird that a nation with the most advanced military and informational technology in the world, an entire Department of Homeland Security, and the laws of the Patriot Act could manage to let someone "leak" secret State Department cables at a time when we're gearing up for the 2012 election? And equally "accidental" that its timing coincides perfectly with the neo-Reaganite animosity our American "exceptionalists" are taking pains to display toward the rest of the world, which will now know what we really think of it anyway? How "coincidental" can it be that their forthcoming book releases have titles designed to channel (and cash in on) the American response to the backlash?

Posted by: mersee | November 29, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse


Barry the incompetent boob Obama bowed low from the waist to a laughing Saudi prince, the emperor of Japan and the premier of China.

This headless chicken in the White House is a complete disgrace to our great nation.

Miserable failure Obama

Posted by: screwjob22 | November 29, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

screwjob22 wrote: "Miserable failure Obama"

I'll bet screwjob22 is a real success story.

Posted by: wireknob | November 29, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Best take on American exceptionalism belongs to the Gregory Brothers. Look for "Auto Tune the News 5" on YouTube.

Posted by: mattintx | November 29, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

While Christmas shopping this afternoon, I leafed through Obama's picture book Of Thee I Sing at a local bookstore. His decency, love of country and reverence for American principles shines through on every page.

If you disagree with his policies, fair enough. But the relentless demonization of the man, the semi-hysterical labeling and name-calling and fear-mongering, is despicable, deplorable and dangerous. Thank you, Mr. Milbank, for an all-too-rare calling out of the real agenda here.

Posted by: Spenmore25 | November 29, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Oops! I gave credit to the wrong columnist---sorry, Mr. Sargent!

Posted by: Spenmore25 | November 29, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Yes, America is so exceptional that our children can't find China on a globe. We're so exceptional that we take Sarah Palin seriously. We're so exceptional that even our allies dislike us. The Right is simply in denial, as usual.

Posted by: SmallBusiness | November 29, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Obama is a political giant who won the Presidency with a clear majority, simply with his rhetoric that was not only just but had the potential to earn back the respect that we had lost internationally with cackhanded policies by G W Bush and his cohorts. This was also recognised by the Nobel Peace Prize awarding committees and awarded him it before he could achieve any of them but on his promises alone. He was probably sincere in his rhetoric, but the opposition had discovered his achilles heel - not assertive and aiming to please everybody and responding positively to criticism however unjust. They discovered early on his campaign trail when they criticised him for not wearing a lapel badge of the flag. His response was to sheepishly wear it when there are millions not wearing such a badge for various reasons (Eg. not wantng to make a hole in your lapel) and none of them to do with being unpatriotic as he was accused of.

Posted by: shaik1 | November 29, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

President Obama was in a foreign country (FRANCE) speaking to an audience of individuals who WERE NOT, AND, ARE NOT... AMERICAN... What type of word choice did you suggest that he use??? You think the "bull in a china cabinet" approach would have gained us some extra support?

Since obviously diplomatic relations is someone out there's forte... maybe someone should explain to me if it is or is not important to take into consideration THE AUDIENCE THAT YOUR SPEAKING TO when you prepare a speech.....

Posted by: TheRookAndQueen | November 29, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Pardon my previous post... I mixed a comment from another article that I read in with the post... Im sorry ...

however the main idea can still apply... because I'm quite sure that visiting diplomats and delegates from other countries.... and leaders of other countries pay attention to ANYTHING that our country's leader says... because his ideas and decision making effect's them and the decision that they make... so he has to be selective in his response... can't upset anyone unnecessarily.

Posted by: TheRookAndQueen | November 29, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

"As Dumya once said, our Constitution is just a "g-d damned piece of paper.""


100% BS -- just like every word written by the dimwit above who said it.

Posted by: quarterback1 | November 29, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't exceptional mean that a place is above all others? How can we say this when millions have no access to health care? When babies are dying due to lack of prenantal care? When teachers have to ask parents to provide paper towels and toilet paper because schools are underfunded? When elderly are denied health care because they cannot afford the doctor or they have gone over the limit for drugs for that year?
Really? This is exceptional?? If you think so then we are all screwed. Yes, Americans are exceptional but only if they would get their heads out of the sand and start looking around at the reality that this country is falling apart because we refuse to take care of each other. For what? Greed... Just so junior can get that new iPhone for Christmas...
Sad...

Posted by: phorse | November 29, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

America is exceptional because she is the only great power remaining at the moment. We are, in our day, and in our way, as Rome was in hers. I have been an American for a long time and have seen many elections and many Presidents, and what amazes me about Obama is that he is a President in a most extraordinarily controversial time, and yet he endures so little criticism.
Some Presidents such as Nixon, Carter, Clinton, Roosevelt, and Truman, whom I've seen, and Lincoln,whom I've read about, have endured more hostility and criticism than I thought that any human being could withstand. But they survived---as human beings if not as Presidents. It doesn't matter if you agree or disagree with their opponents, the point is the amount of criticism they had to take when they were President. And here's Obama being treated, relatively, with kid gloves, and you're complaining that he's being picked on. Truman must be chortling in his grave.

Posted by: Beatrix1 | November 29, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

How are we measuring eceptionalism in this day and age. As Bill Maher noted in 2007, some Americans want to claim "We're No. 1" based on the achievements of earlier generations. What have we done lately to claim the mantle of exceptionalism?

Posted by: cile92 | November 29, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

lms,

"Many of the policies Dems have passed or hoped to pass were previously approved by or even campaigned on by conservatives. It's difficult for many of us to view these transgressions as mere partisanship."

Sorry, but that's just nonsense. I'd love to see you prove your claim with copious, specific evidence, and lay out the full platform of his policies, showing which ones were supported or campaigned on by which conservatives.

It doesn't even make any sense, since you are effectively claiming Obama is a conservative, which would make it rather odd that he consistently excoriates all ideas conservative. You are reaching desperately here.

Posted by: quarterback1 | November 29, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

quarterback1, it is true that Obama has proposed ideas once championed by Republicans only to have Republicans flip-flop on the issue. Immigration reform was one example. Sen. McCain even campaigned on essentially the same idea that Obama proposed. But Republican supporters of comprehensive immigration reform changed their tune once Obama supported it. Many of the ideas in health care reform were first proposed by Republicans, and we know how they demagogue against the entire thing today.

Why don't you provide copious, specific evidence that Obama "consistently excoriates all ideas conservative." You must list ALL ideas Conservatives have put forth -- a short list, to be sure -- and provide evidence that Obama excoriated each and every one. Now go to it.

Posted by: wireknob | November 29, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

I only need 2 words to counter American exceptionalism ....Sarah Palin.

Posted by: sux123 | November 29, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Sargent's plum line is plumb dumb. There is a valid critique to Obama's otherness. His comment about people in the midwest clinging to god and guns because they are afraid of change is exactly how he feels about lower to middle class white Americans. The fact that he sat in Rev. Wrights Church of God Damn America for twenty years is also an indication of his "otherness". This has nothing to do with race as conservatives feel the same way about sixties radicals Bill Ayers and Bernadette Dorn. The far left-of which Obama is part- really hates America and want's to fundamentally "transform it" because they believe it is deeply flawed by comparison the socialisit democracies of Western Europe.

Posted by: jkk1943 | November 29, 2010 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Good heavens "American Exceptionalism" has nothing to do with status, or money or national achievement. It has to do with the fact that we are the freest people on the face of the earth and that freedom is enshrined in the constitution and safegaurded by a division of power between the executive, legistlative and judicial. Even the newest immigrant gets this, why is the left so dense when it comes to this fundamental fact. Also please lay off the racism nonsense. The American public does not like Presidents who are overly critical of their country and pessimistic and indecisive in nature. This was as true of Carter as it is of Obama. We tend to revere Presidents who radiate optimism and love of country like Jack Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. I am 67 years old and a student in history. Obama manages to combine the worst characteristics of three of our worst Presidents, Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon and Woodrow Wilson; he is as sanctimonious as Carter, as paranoid as Nixon and as naive as the last wooly headed liberal professor to occupy the White House-Woodrow Wilson.

Posted by: jkk1943 | November 29, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

We can be exceptional again but not until we drop our very self destructive behavior. The right wingers are ignoring the wisdom of the Bible & Lincoln: "A house divided against itself cannot stand." They are placing their party over their country to advance their very selfish interests. (ex. massive borrowing to give massive tax breaks to those among us who don't need them and we cannot afford.")

Faux News, Heritage Foundation etc. are the oil that keeps the public deception and division machinery moving. The country is a big team and when we work against ourselves instead of the common good, we are doomed to failure.

Posted by: 1observer | November 29, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

The real question is why does the right hate the idea that a black (half black and half black man) resides in the White House? It has nothing to do with liberalism, deficits, or foreign policy but all to do with character assassination to make clear that black men have no business being in a position of political power. We have leaped into an era of the super rich and the corporate world making all the decisions for the masses with no regard for the multiple millions whose labor made possible the holdings of the rich. President Obama has tried to enrich and better the lives of ordinary Americans and the right hates that idea. They want to make the rules and the hell with the working man and families. What gall they say that the wealthy should pay more in taxes, but the poor should remain poor and be like slaves to the wealthy. This is not the American way any longer to keep the playing field level for the less fortunate, but a new plutocracy that preys on the less fortunate. We use taxes to bailout private industry through deception and fraud for their benefit yet deny help to those that will pay that bill by personal labor and taxes. America needs to wake up and stop the insanity that has gripped both the media and the self righteous right.

Posted by: joltinjo | November 29, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

The whole thing is yet more ridiculous, Republican, insolent nonsense designed to make the President appear as not a "real" American. Total rubbish.

Posted by: ejs2 | November 29, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Wrong. As usual, all indicators point that the educated left is lost in the woods.

The exceptionalism critique is nothing more than another front of the federalism debate. THINKING conservatives see Obama's apathy towards American self assertion, plainly displayed in any aspect of his foreign policy, as another manifestation of the post-modern, global government project that progressives are working on yet flatly denying. Now, i'll grant that some under the conservative umbrella like birthers see his lack of enthusiasm exactly as you explain it, but why even acknowledge those people with argument and a dedicated column? It's like a conservative commentator getting to the bottom of the Bush-did-9-11 crap in a national paper.

Which brings me back to the original point, no one would do such a thing unless they were completely lost.

Posted by: batigol85 | November 29, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Also, maybe some of you will figure out how the right "dupes" america so often. You never actually acknowledge the real argument and instead focus on some fringe that represents a minority of republicans and absolutely no independents. Just because the left decides to not acknowledge the real message of the right doesn't mean that all the independents that decide elections will. To them, you didn't argue your case at all!

Posted by: batigol85 | November 29, 2010 10:08 PM | Report abuse


Bottom line:
The polls show that Obama has not lived up to America's expectations. He has only himself to blame. The speech-giver’s magic is gone. He has lost his star-power.
.

Posted by: Billw3 | November 29, 2010 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Mitt who said what about the President? ha ha ha

Posted by: johng1 | November 29, 2010 11:41 PM | Report abuse

And so how do we go forward? Outsource jobs? Keep Wall St rich?
-------------------------------
How about another "stimulus" that stimulates nothing? How about we dream up a few more entitlement programs? Maybe we can give everyone unemployment checks since the libs have just informed me we get a $1.60 back for every dollar gifted in unemployment? Let's grow the federal gov't even larger than it is right now. We need much more than $150,000 federal workers making over 100K/yr.

Liberalism is a disease!

Posted by: steelers01 | November 29, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

All the human culture, all the results of art, science and technology that we see before us today, are almost exclusively the creative product of the Aryan. This very fact admits of the not unfounded inference that he alone was the founder of all higher humanity, therefore representing the prototype of all that we understand by the word "man." He is the Prometheus of mankind from whose shining brow the divine spark of genius has sprung at all times, forever kindling anew that fire of knowledge which illuminated the night of silent mysteries and thus caused man to climb the path to mastery over the other beings of the earth . . . It was he who laid the foundations and erected the walls of every great structure in human culture.
Adolf Hitler
Mein Kampf

Let's not forget Nazi exceptionalism

Posted by: shadocat | November 30, 2010 5:43 AM | Report abuse

Succintly, "the Right" is not right. What they write is irrelevant to our times, current directions,tides. They miss the crux of the world map of today; they miss the currents and undercurrents going on developing serious and dangerous impacts on our future; they do not see, they do not want to see the writings on the wall. The Americans are lucky to have a President who sees the writings, read them, carefully and amicably deals with them properly assisted by an understanding and effective Secretary of State. "The Right" seems to be obsessed in a tight enclave of their own, indulging in a despised mode of medieval racism. What is weird most is the siding of some influential respectable GOP leaders with the promoters of exceptionalism, the more so if the intention is to discredit Obama's origin. The President, whoever he may be, is the ultimate product of the American democratic way of life - Constitution, values, expectations, legacy. Once a president is elected, he is the president of all americans and all americans through their delegates have the duty to assist him in his execising his powers to stand by and fulfill his declared agenda for which he was elected. Extending partisanship interests beyond the date of Inauguration is, in my opinion,not constitutional, let alone a sheer disgrace to the democratic system as a whole. Elections are meant to establish a periodic truce halting partisan bickerings and wrestlings during the incumbency period of the elected in order to move united to achieve the most beneficial results accruing through guided performance of the declared agenda of elected majority. President Obama's articulation of his beliefs, as reported in the Article, immaculately presents the true American way.

Posted by: elaharon | November 30, 2010 5:49 AM | Report abuse

"...the intended subtext of the argument is unmistakable."

Mr. Sargent, you are worse than the most arrogant postmodernist, deconstructionist, literary theorist! Even the proponents of said theories have to "tease out" the incongruities, ideologies, and binary oppositions from a text.

In your case, you are simply cocksure about what "the right" thinks and feels about the "otherness" of Obama. In reality, you do not have a clue.

Derrida said there is "nothing outside the text." In your case, you simply make up the text, the pretext, and the subtext.
An absolutely shameful piece, which in the end renders no shellacking to anyone, least of all the right.

You did get one sub-text correct: your own...the one that disses the right and dismisses them out of hand.

Posted by: jay_thompson | November 30, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I am confused by the seeming unwillingness of the mainstream press to call the birther movement what it is “thinly veiled bigotry.” The birther movement is akin to those who believe that President Obama is secretly a Muslim – in total disregard of the fact that he is a life long Christian and apparently because “Obama” sounds a little too much like “Osama”. The birther movement is nothing more than an expression of intolerance, as in “President Obama’s not one of us”. Do we really believe that the birther faction would exist if a black man had not been elected president? The entire birther argument is based on convoluted logic, misstated and made up facts, and distortions. Just look at the claims of Texas state Rep. Leo Berman, a republican who has called President Obama “God's punishment on us [the white race I presume] today”. Everyone knows that Obama is a natural born US Citizen. Yet birthers like Rep. Berman keep advancing a specious and convoluted argument challenging his right to be president. I believe in the principle of “Occam's Razor” which states that the simplest explanation is more likely the correct one (or when faced with a convoluted argument cut through the baloney to get at the simple motivations). Rep. Berman is not a stupid man and he knows full well that he is distorting the facts. He is simply sending a message of intolerance that somehow this black president can’t be trusted. Birthers like Rep. Berman are simply upset that a black man was elected president and are looking for any excuse to challenge that fact not matter how specious or convoluted the argument.

Posted by: dfisher6221 | December 1, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

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