Ohhh, America, you're so strong

By Matt Miller
Thursday, November 18, 2010

Oooh, you're so strong, baby, so handsome. You're the greatest.

I'm talking about you, America. You're . . . why, you're exceptional!

Does anyone else think there's something a little insecure about a country that requires its politicians to constantly declare how exceptional it is? A populace in need of this much reassurance may be the surest sign of looming national decline.

American exceptionalism is now the central theme of Sarah Palin's speeches. The supposedly insufficient Democratic commitment to this idea will be a core Republican complaint in 2012. Conservatives assail Barack Obama for his alleged indifference to it. It's part of their broader indictment of Obama's fishy cosmopolitanism, his overseas "apology tours," his didn't-wear-the-flag-lapel-pin-until-he-had-to peevishness. Not to mention the whole anti-colonial Kenyan resentment thing the president's got going.

Real men - real Americans - know America is the greatest country ever invented. And they shout it from the rooftops. Don't they?

Let me be clear, because I know the mail's coming. I love my country, and cherish that America was founded on the ideals of liberty, equality and self-government. We're imperfect - who isn't? - but always in the process of evolving toward that "more perfect union." So I write this as a patriot.

Because, speaking as a patriot, I worry we're looking a little too needy these days.

You can tell a lot about a country by what it requires its politicians to do to win. In Switzerland, do candidates have to proclaim that "Switzerland is the greatest nation ever created in human history"? In Brazil, do ambitious pols insist that "Brazil is the most special country ever to grace the world"?

Isn't "great" or "really, really great" enough?

Not in America, dammit.

"Americans believe with all their heart," said Marco Rubio upon winning his Senate race, "that the United States of America is simply the single greatest nation in all of human history, a place without equal in the history of all of mankind."

Rubio described his Senate race as "a referendum on our identity," adding that "this race forces us to answer a very simple question," he said. "Do we want our country to continue to be exceptional, or are we prepared for it to become just like everyone else?"

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