What’s So Great About America?

Some thoughts about American exceptionalism, and the apparent allergy to the notion from the Left:

Republicans must take care that “exceptionalism” doesn’t collapse through thoughtless repetition into a mere slogan, another bit of political cant like “Take Our Country Back” or “Move America Forward,” losing all meaning even as it wows the focus groups. For the line of argument that Rubio pursues, his way of framing the choice that voters face in the Obama era, is uncommonly—you might say, exceptionally—useful, for three reasons.

First, the idea of American exceptionalism has the benefit of being true. The United States is fundamentally and demonstrably different from other countries. It is bound together by a founding proposition, and properly applied the proposition has brought freedom and prosperity to more people, and more kinds of people, than any other. Second, a large majority of Americans believe American exceptionalism to be true. And third, it drives Democrats right around the bend.

It’s not clear why. Maybe liberal polemicists don’t quite understand what the phrase means, and so they pummel it into a caricature. In Politico last week, under the oddly truncated headline “U.S. Is Not Greatest Country Ever,” the columnist Michael Kinsley wrote that exceptionalism is “the theory that Americans are better than everybody else.” The next day, on a well-trafficked liberal website, another columnist said much the same thing—they tend to run in packs, these guys. Other countries, this columnist wrote, are “investing in infrastructure,” unlike the United States, which apparently just spent $780 billion in stimulus on chopped liver. At the same time, he went on, “the Republicans have taken refuge in an antigovernment ideology premised on the lunatic notion that America is the only truly free and successful country in the world.”

Assuming they were offered in good faith, these characterizations are hopelessly confused, conflating exceptionalism with jingoism or xenophobia or mere self-aggrandizement. (He got the antigovernment part right, though.) But even if they do understand what the term means, we can’t be sure that professional Democrats really believe it. Liberalism in its present degenerate form is reactionary—a gesture of irritation at the backward quality of ordinary American life, at its culture, its food and dress and amusements and politics, and especially at the mindless and sentimental patriotism that unsophisticated Americans are so quick to embrace.

Read all.

It strikes me that a lot of the hysteria about the change in direction of space policy this year arose from a knee-jerk assumption that it was just one more way in which the president was trying to make America unexceptional. But in fact, the Apollo program and paradigm is an exception to exceptionalism in its big-government, central-planning approach, and ironically, the new plans are much more in keeping with traditional American values. I think I’m going to do an essay on this to at least convince those Republicans who sincerely oppose it on what they mistakenly imagine are conservative ideological grounds, and aren’t driven by the pork considerations.

Radical-In-Chief

An interview with Stanley Kurtz, on Barack Obama’s socialism:

Obama was a socialist even before he reached Columbia. But it was in April of 1983, in his senior year, that Obama walked into an off-campus Socialist Scholars Conference. That conference changed the future president’s life and gave him a program he’s been following for his entire political career, right up to this day.

It was in the early eighties that American socialists turned in force to community organizing as a long-term strategy for transforming American society. With Reagan as president, conventional socialist nationalization of America’s businesses was impossible. So instead the focus turned to grassroots strategies for creating socialism “from below.” Community organizations like ACORN would take hold of the capitalist system from the ground up, forcing banks to make risky subprime loans, for example. The idea was to create de facto public control of businesses through community organizations, rather than through formal government ownership.

The symbol of all this was Chicago’s Mayor Harold Washington, who worked closely with Chicago’s small but influential collection of socialists, many of whom brought the community organizations they controlled onto the Washington bandwagon. The buzz at that 1983 Socialist Scholars Conference was that minority-led political coalitions would work in tandem with community organizations to swing the Democratic Party left. This would incrementally move America toward socialism. Harold Washington became Obama’s political idol, and Obama was swept up in plans to create a partnership between quietly-socialist community organizers and left-leaning minority politicians to reshape the American system.

Amazingly, the Socialist Scholars Conferences Obama attended in New York in the mid-eighties even put him on the path that led to Reverend Wright. The Democratic Socialists of America, which sponsored those conferences, had just formed an alliance with the black liberation theologians who were Reverend Wright’s mentors. Obama would have learned all about the ties between black liberation theology and socialism at those conferences.

It’s a shame that the media was too busy sending reporters to go through the dumpsters in Wasilla, Alaska, to do this kind of research. But there are only so many resources, and priorities have to be made.

California

…the Lindsay Lohan of states. One of the many good things about Tuesday’s result is that there is now no prospect for the state to be bailed out by the federal taxpayers. The moronic electorate here is about to have a hard collision with reality.

[Update early afternoon]

What happens when a state goes bankrupt? I guess we’re going to find out, because California (and other states, such as Illinois) are essentially already there.

Prospects For The Individual Mandate

are poor, constitutionally speaking. And the great thing is that because the idiots couldn’t find room in a two-thousand-page bill for a severability clause, the entire atrocity will be struck down.

As Somin points out, if this stands, there is essentially no limit to what the federal government can impose on an individual. This was amply illustrated by the back and forth between Elena Kagan and Tom Coburn, when she essentially (and unwittingly) admitted as much. In fact, she got it exactly backwards. A law requiring all Americans to eat a minimum amount of fruits and vegetables a day might actually be a smart, not a stupid one, but it would be unconstitutional. Which is one of many reasons why she should not have been confirmed, and will be a disaster for limited government for decades.

Man, Hitler Is Having A Really Bad Week

First the Dems losing the House big time, and now this.

I have to say, though, that the substitution of “Olbermann” for “Steiner” is a little jarring, given that they’re both German names (hey, I never thought how appropriate his name was until now…). I’m sure that people fluent in German have to find these quite annoying. But for the rest of us, they’re the gift that keeps on giving.

I Don’t Want A Government That Is “Pro Business”

I want one that is for the free market.

Yes, I know that I’ve been complaining that the administration has been anti-business, and it has been, particularly with all of the uncertainty that it’s engendered, with businesspeople not knowing what new atrocity and attack on profits it’s going to commit. But that doesn’t mean that I want it to be subsidizing politically favored business (including energy businesses, of all flavors) either.

Serve Up A Nice Steaming Plate Of Crow

…for Stu Rothenberg. From April of last year:

Over the past couple of weeks, at least three Republicans — House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.), former Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) and campaign consultant Tony Marsh — have raised the possibility of the GOP winning back the House of Representatives next year.

That idea is lunacy and ought to be put to rest immediately.

None of the three actually predicted that Republicans would gain the 40 seats that they need for a majority, but all three held out hope that that’s possible. It isn’t.

So how seriously should we take his prognostications now?

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!