Even when Obama claims to support American exceptionalism, he can’t do so without a “but.”
At West Point last year he said, “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being. But what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law; it’s our willingness to affirm them through our actions.”
That’s a strangely twisted definition: We’re only special if we stop acting as if we think we’re special?
Americans are, of course, far more skeptical of the idea that our actions must receive the blessing of international bodies. In a 2011 Pew Survey, only 45 percent of Americans said we should get UN approval before using military force. In France, Britain, Germany and Spain that number was 66 percent to 76 percent.
The reality of American exceptionalism is that it tells a story of a country very much at odds with the fantasy version preferred by Obama and other liberals, a sort of continental campus where “hate speech” is carefully controlled, everyone thinks income inequality is a big deal, government is respected or even beloved, the churches are empty and no one owns a gun.