Why not the finest?

President fails to grasp the concept of American exceptionalism

  • Follow Editorials

Even on Memorial Day, President Obama honored the troops he commands in an odd way.

He serves as commander-in-chief, he said, to "one of the finest fighting forces the world has ever known."

One of? The president of the United States has to qualify his praise for our troops? Is he so deathly afraid of "committing" American swagger that he can't claim to lead the finest force in history? Can even an unpatriotic American rationally and effectively argue the point? Can it not be shown to be demonstrably true?

What is it with this guy?

It may seem a small thing to pore over a subtle choice of words -- but isn't this the guy who, during the 2008 campaign, famously argued that words matter? Remember his "Just words" speech? And aren't the media convinced Mr. Obama understands "nuance" in ways we mere mortals cannot?

In addition, taken by itself the passage may not grab one's attention. But it's a pattern with this president.

It's certainly not the first time he has consciously and conspicuously backed away from praising his country or showing pride in it. As a candidate, he had to be shamed into wearing an American flag pin. And as president, aside from the multiple mea culpas he issued to the world on our behalf in his first year in office, he said this when asked in Europe if he believes in American exceptionalism: "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism, and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism."

The answer bizarrely equates American exceptionalism with mere national pride, which shows a profound ignorance of the phenomenon unsuited to a commander-in-chief. Neither the Brits nor the Greeks have any delusions that their countries are the most powerful in the world.

And how many people in the world would deny the United States the title of finest fighting force the world has ever known? Certainly not those rational, objective folks who've been liberated by it!

More subjectively, there's never been a more potent force on Earth -- or one that uses that power more discreetly, or to nobler ends. History's great militaries plundered; America's is helping build infrastructure in Afghanistan and Iraq, including schools that the natives would have denied little girls.

How can you not have exceeding pride in all that? "One of"? Name another like it in history!

More importantly, our president should understand that American exceptionalism -- as we have pointed out here before -- is not about Americans, per se. We're not born exceptional. What makes America first among nations -- yes, we said it -- is our utterly unprecedented system of self-governance that includes, in the Bill of Rights alone, more human rights than most nations have ever read about.

It's our individual liberty, our founding documents' acknowledgement of man's "unalienable rights" -- and most importantly the declaration that those rights come from God, not any construct of man -- that makes America exceptional.

One need not be ashamed of it. One -- especially one in the Oval Office -- ought, instead, to be proud of it, particularly among foreign audiences.

It's not "one of the finest" systems the world has ever known. It's the best.

Why is that so hard?

Comments (22)

Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
faithson
4601
Points
faithson 06/02/11 - 12:28 am
0
0

You guys down there on Broad

You guys down there on Broad Street must be smoking some serious ganga. To 'bash' the president on such an off the wall issue as this is puerile. "committing" American swagger to War is the legacy of the last administration, and if you are to blind to see the folly of that action, you fall into the category of 'the blind leading the blind', of which a majority of Americans said no to in the last election. This blustering of our military might by the Editorial Board in this editorial is patriotic propaganda. Sure we have the most powerful military in the world... LOOK HOW MUCH IT COSTS !

Haki
31
Points
Haki 06/02/11 - 01:32 am
0
0

Please ACES, before anyone

Please ACES, before anyone else is subjected to this, take this down and post tomorrow's op-ed. I can say with all honesty that this in my opinion is the worst I've read in my 15 year of reading here.

Riverman1
70932
Points
Riverman1 06/02/11 - 05:12 am
0
0

Well, it is a great fighting

Well, it is a great fighting force that I'm proud to have once been part of, but the Confederate Army was better. If we only hadn't got into that fight at Gettysburg people in New York would be speaking with a Southern accent.

carcraft
20801
Points
carcraft 06/02/11 - 05:46 am
0
0

Riverman-That is life, I did

Riverman-That is life, I did a decision breifing for Command and General Staff College on attacking Mead at Gettysburg. I really think Lee wasn't thinking clearly. You had a Union line and Lee had no idea of the strenth or organizational elements of that line. Lee's calvery (his eyes and ears) were out wondering around Maryland instead of monitoring union activities. I really think a lot of the burden for the loss at Gettysburg was in the commander (Jeb Stuart) of the calvery and their failure to carry out their responsibilities and Lee's blind belief in the ability of his generals and troops. That being said the US Army is the finest fighting force in the World bar none at the moment and while his words are a small point, Obama does often damn with faint praise!

draksig
167
Points
draksig 06/02/11 - 06:32 am
0
0

No, they are not. This

No, they are not.

This president has never been proud of this country and has stated we are no better than any other country. His wife publicly stated that she was only proud of this country when it nominated her husband for the white house.

Name me where this article is factually wrong. He did say everything they say he did.

Carleton Duvall
6305
Points
Carleton Duvall 06/02/11 - 07:29 am
0
0

It looks that some have blind

It looks that some have blind hatred for the AC

dougk
3
Points
dougk 06/02/11 - 07:36 am
0
0

Another fine piece from the

Unpublished

Another fine piece from the graduates of the William Randolph Hearst School of Journalism.

seenitB4
73171
Points
seenitB4 06/02/11 - 07:55 am
0
0

Now river.....ya know that NY

Now river.....ya know that NY folks can't ever get the sweet southern accent we have....they can try but it won't happen.
You have to live it-breathe it-want it-& love the great southern hills & plains......honeysuckle vines & honeybees......sweet smells of flowers early in the am on a cool patio with coffee with baileys. YEEHAW

southernguy08
415
Points
southernguy08 06/02/11 - 09:01 am
0
0

AC, really? You are surprised

Unpublished

AC, really? You are surprised that this arrogant, clueless president acts this way toward our military? Next you'll be telling me Sean Penn seems to not like America.

justthefacts
18058
Points
justthefacts 06/02/11 - 09:04 am
0
0

ha, you have to give the AC

ha, you have to give the AC credit. They sure know how to push the Lib's buttons.

InChristLove
21910
Points
InChristLove 06/02/11 - 09:44 am
0
0

It seems that if the

It seems that if the President is as articulate and intelligent as people claim he is and knowing that a lot of people will pick his speaches apart, was this just an overlooked comment or does he truly feel that our military is not the finest in the world?

It does seem like a minor thing but now it makes me wonder.

Chillen
16
Points
Chillen 06/02/11 - 09:49 am
0
0

America elected a President

America elected a President who doesn't think America is exceptional. He was raised as a muslim Indonesian while idolizing his kenyan, anti-colonialist father -- so it is not surprising that he does not think we are the best. Though in my opinion that IS his job.

His wife also doesn't think America is great. Proclaiming upon the community organizer's election that "For the First Time in My Adult Lifetime, I Am Really Proud of My Country". What a loser.

The people obama hangs out with don't think America is great. His hero George Soros said this about America. "The main obstacle of a stable and just world order is the American Way". Soros is hard at work trying to destroy our financial system too, all the while, using us/obama to make himself richer. He is/was heavily invested in airport body scanning equipment and a certain Brazilian oil company who has been given the only "obama permit" to drill in the Gulf.

His other friends. Communist Bill Ayers blew up federal buildings and is a well known anti-American. His regulation czar Cass Sunstein seeks to use his power to alter America forever through censorships and anti-American regulations. Samantha Powers, obama's special assistent on Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights loves the United Nations more than America - by her own words in her book. She places their importance above her own country. Eric Holder, in charge of the justice dept, is so blind in his racism that he is more interested in squashing American tea party patriots than black panthers intimidating voters.

Yes. You are known by the company you keep.

The commuity organizer is, by his own words and actions, anti-American. America wanted Hope & Change. Boy they got it. Probably the first President in US history who doesn't believe America is great. That is quite a change. And it gives us little hope.

Jon Lester
2220
Points
Jon Lester 06/02/11 - 10:00 am
0
0

Every other day of the week,

Every other day of the week, you guys are all about how great Israel is, but I guess this is the best you can come up with today to denigrate the president.

You might want to read up on the Swiss military and reserve system. I would also guess that the Chinese military has only improved in the last 60 years.

Chillen
16
Points
Chillen 06/02/11 - 10:22 am
0
0

I listened to an interesting

I listened to an interesting interview yesterday. The person was saying that in 10 years, America will be unrecognizable if we continue down this path. Read or listen to it here http://www.wmnf.org/news_stories/dmitry-orlov-the-us-and-the-five-stages...

I say it almost is already unrecognizable. Our transformation has been so rapid since 9-11. The muslims are winning. And the liberals stand in lockstep with them. For reasons I cannot understand other than their anti-capitalism shared goal.

Chillen
16
Points
Chillen 06/02/11 - 11:20 am
0
0

I just read a GREAT

I just read a GREAT quote.

"Reelecting Obama would be like strapping on an economic suicide vest and giving the trigger to your worst enemy."

nofanofobama
6168
Points
nofanofobama 06/02/11 - 11:32 am
0
0

of course obama despises the

of course obama despises the military ...this is the 2nd memorial day in a row that he did not officially honor our fallen heros at arlington or as a matter of fact i believe no where else..his excuse playing golf...now i dont think golf is bad for any prez but this defys common sense as the commander and chief... a very special day of honor...just like not going to the memorial service for the soldiers killed by that radical muslim in soldier clothing a couple of years ago..after all it was clinton that asked the question of what "is" means or whatever. yes libs like to say words matter but they dont like it to matter to them

Riverman1
70932
Points
Riverman1 06/02/11 - 12:18 pm
0
0

Carcraft, the very fact our

Carcraft, the very fact our soldiers were so good was our downfall. There is not a force in history that could have overcome the Union forces behind the stone wall at Cemetery Ridge. The Confederate soldiers had been victorious in every battle and Lee believed they were invincible.

He was not being realistic to say the least. A local person, General James Longstreet, a Richmond Academy graduate, warned Lee charging the ridge would be disastrous. He told Lee no Army in the history of the world could storm that position. He proposed what would have won the war....simply going around the Union forces putting the Confederates between Washington DC and the Union forces in good defensive positions.

But Lee was firm and wanted to fight wherever the Union was. I mean, for crying out loud, all we had to do was go around their dug-in position. There was no disgrace in not charging in a suicidal way.

SeenitB4, my fair Southern Lady, you catch the spirit of the South beautifully.

OJP
4698
Points
OJP 06/02/11 - 01:14 pm
0
0

I doubt the President thinks

I doubt the President thinks the military that killed Osama bin Laden is anything but unquestionably excellent.

And the knee-jerk reaction from the ACES caused it to miss the reason behind the qualification: time. The U.S. military, undoubtedly the greatest in the world today (and since World War II), does not consist of the same men and women now than it did yesterday, last week, last month, last year, or in the 1940s.

To call today's U.S. military the best "the world has ever known" is to disparage past service men and women.

Whatchu got against my Grandfather, ACES???

nofanofobama
6168
Points
nofanofobama 06/02/11 - 01:32 pm
0
0

jeb calvary was off on wild

jeb calvary was off on wild goose chases not giving Lee his eyes for the battlefield.. this is why i believe he did not try to out flank the union army..picketts charge was i believe directly related to LEE blindness of the developing battlefield and why he would not listen to Longstreet sound advice. i have walked the the route of picketts ill fated charge**it was understandable that LEE was lead to believe the center of the union line was weakened after he attacked both flanks the previous days, but the union did not take troops from the center to re-enforce its flanks. and with out EYES he could not have known, he just assumed.. the sheer distance and openess was what lead Longstreet to plead his case against the assult. even if weaked as Lee argued it was a no-win proposition.

nofanofobama
6168
Points
nofanofobama 06/02/11 - 01:59 pm
0
0

ojp**got nothing against my

ojp**got nothing against my father or anyone else that served this great country...buts it undeniable that our military is far more lethal than any time b/4.. this does not distract from the courage of previous generations. we just have far more capabilities due to technology . if your armed forces are no better than 20 years ago..then you got problems...obama despises the military except when he can use them for his own personal gain..for the reasons i posted at 11.22 is why i feel this way..

Boogaloo
1
Points
Boogaloo 06/02/11 - 02:31 pm
0
0

"shamed into wearing an

"shamed into wearing an American flag pin" Yes, wearing trinkets is a definite proof of one's patriotism.

socks99
250
Points
socks99 06/02/11 - 03:54 pm
0
0

Obama's hesitance to utter

Obama's hesitance to utter broad platitudes about American exceptionalism may be tied to his deep-seated belief that many in America have too much, and that those who have too little must be victims of some sort of 'guns-and-Bibles' conspiracy based on race, gender, or immigration status. In his visit to Joplin, the President gently reminded these suffering peoples that 'help' would be coming from people they didn't know; apparently his reminder, once again, was a latent attempt to put-down what he sees as an irrational racism of rural folks. In reality, it's himself that needs some reminding about the reality of Americans and America. It's, as they say, different than one might expect having been schooled by the liberal elites and their n'er-do-well supporters. Obama knows not himself, nor the hearts of the American people.

dani
12
Points
dani 06/02/11 - 05:12 pm
0
0

Perhaps we are giving Obama

Perhaps we are giving Obama TOO much credit. Who can say if he actually knows the meaning of what "one" is?

Michael Ryan
549
Points
Michael Ryan 06/02/11 - 06:00 pm
0
0

I checked into it, southern

I checked into it, southern guy.

Apparently Sean Penn doesn't like America.

Asitisinaug
3
Points
Asitisinaug 06/02/11 - 06:36 pm
0
0

Obama's policies are

Obama's policies are deplorable for America but this article is really stretching it as in looking for something negative where nothing exsists.

dougk
3
Points
dougk 06/02/11 - 09:25 pm
0
0

Good for

Unpublished

Good for you....asitininaug.....at least criticize the policies/positions...making something out of nothing, though, is all Michael Ryan can come up with these days....well, it';s more than that...it's yellow journalism....

freeradical
825
Points
freeradical 06/02/11 - 09:31 pm
0
0

The Bamster knows what he is

The Bamster knows what he is talking about.

He is just way ahead of the eightball.

When he is done with them, the military will join Obama's " typical

white" grandmother right under the bus.

madgerman
236
Points
madgerman 06/03/11 - 11:49 am
0
0

Nofan. You may want to get

Unpublished

Nofan. You may want to get it right to prove how much you know about the country and its government. It isn't Commander and chief, It is the Commander in Chief. Most grade school kids know the difference.

madgerman
236
Points
madgerman 06/03/11 - 11:58 am
0
0

As to the souths ability to

Unpublished

As to the souths ability to continue the war. I have read extensive articles that indicated the south was having a serious time with AWOL soldiers going home to put in crops for their family to surviver on. This was because the big farmers were making a fortune on Cotton and would not convert to food crops. I have read that soldiers wives turning into highway robbers, to feed their families. That lack of food and equipment may explain why the soldiers were in such a sad state of health. I doubt, because of their deplorabe conditions, they would have lasted another day after Gettysberg. Good soldiers they were, bad leaders they had. But they would have been perfect conservatives, giving their lives so that the corporate equivalent farmers of the time could continue to rake in the money.

Back to Top

Top headlines

Mom arrested after daughter beating

A mother is facing charges after police said she hit her daughter with an extension cord and then made her wear a sweater to hide the injuries.
Loading...