Taking America Too Seriously

I just got a reminder of why I don’t truly like Andrew Sullivan’s commentary, even though I often find much of it worthwhile:

If any person has done more to advance some measure of calm, reason and peace in this troubled word lately, it’s president Obama. I think the Cairo speech and the Wright speech alone merited this both bridging ancient rifts even while they remain, of course, deep and intractable. He has already done more to heal the open wound between the West and Islam than anyone else on the planet.

I’d just add one caveat: the American people who elected him deserve part of the credit too. Now he needs partners to help him.

Andrew Sullivan buys into American exceptionalism to an embarrassing degree.  He’s the perfect example of a foreign policy liberal in my typology (inspired by FDR): conservatives say “America is always right”, liberals say “this is a betrayal of America’s nature–we’re always right except this time”, leftists say “same old shit from America.”†   I think Matt Welch is entirely on target:

Among many other things, this selection illustrates the United States’ way-too-oversized role in the world’s imagination.

I do think Obama’s remarks were almost perfect.  Not a note in there that suggests he thinks he’s being awarded for special accomplishments he made.  There was a lot of danger that he’d react awkwardly to an award this premature.

Update: James Fallows has a nice breakdown of Obama’s speech and why it was good.

† I admit that it makes the taxonomy look bad that I come out as a leftist.  It’s even worse that it implies Daniel Larison doesn’t exist…maybe I should just give up.

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