It’s 8:15 am, and I’m already behind in my work. Yes, apparently it’s going to be one of those days. My good friend “Federal Employee with Goats,” who has been at work since before the crack of dawn, sent me a couple of really interesting articles from today’s New York Times this morning. In reading those articles, I also saw an excellent opinion piece that says what I’ve been thinking — only much more eloquently. So let’s let Roger Cohen do the talking here, and I’ll get back to work:
Sarah Palin loves the word “exceptional.” At a rally in Nevada the other day, the Republican vice-presidential candidate said: “We are an exceptional nation.” Then she declared: “America is an exceptional country.” In case anyone missed that, she added: “You are all exceptional Americans.”
I have to hand it to Palin, she may be onto something in her batty way: the election is very much about American exceptionalism.
This is the idea, around since the founding fathers, and elaborated on by Alexis de Tocqueville, that the United States is a nation unlike any other with a special mission to build the “city upon a hill” that will serve as liberty’s beacon for mankind.
But exceptionalism has taken an ugly twist of late. It’s become the angry refuge of the America that wants to deny the real state of the world ….
Which brings us to the first debate — still scheduled for Friday — between Obama and McCain on foreign policy. It will pit the former’s universalism against the latter’s exceptionalism.
I’m going to try to make this simple. On the Democratic side you have a guy whose campaign has been based on the Internet, who believes America may have something to learn from other countries (like universal health care) and who’s unafraid in 2008 to say he’s a “proud citizen of the United States and a fellow citizen of the world.”
On the Republican side, you have a guy who, in 2008, is just discovering the Net and Google and whose No. 2 is a woman who got a passport last year and believes she understands Russia because Alaska is closer to Siberia than Alabama.