Friday, April 6, 2012

Friday Rant: Obama and Romney's Pointless Argument About American "Exceptionalism"

This past week, some rather tepid rhetorical sparks flew between presumed Republican presidential nominee Willard Mitt Romney and President Hopey-Changey about who can blow more smoke up the voters' asses about the laughably idiotic notion called, "American Exceptionalism." Here is the Raw Story with the details:
US President Barack Obama on Monday hit back at his likely Republican election foe Mitt Romney, who questioned whether he shared the notion that America is a uniquely virtuous nation.

At the weekend, Romney appeared to tap into the view, prevalent among the conservative grass roots, that Obama — born in Hawaii of a white mother and Kenyan father — somehow is different than mainstream Americans.

Asked about the comments during a press conference with the leaders of Mexico and Canada on Monday, Obama said the man he is likely to face in November’s election was simply playing to the political gallery.

“It’s still primary season for the Republican Party,” he said, but then took aim at Romney’s central argument.

“It’s worth noting that I first arrived on the national stage with a speech at the Democratic Convention that was entirely about American exceptionalism and that my entire career has been a testimony to American exceptionalism.”

“But, you know, I will cut folks some slack for now because they’re still trying to get their nomination.”

Then Illinois state lawmaker Obama’s speech in Boston in 2004 extolled the “genius” of America, quoted the Declaration of Independence and called on Americans to reaffirm unique values.

Romney said during an event in Wisconsin at the weekend that when he traveled abroad he stood “a little taller, a little straighter, because I knew I had a gift that others didn’t have, and that was I was American.”

“Our president doesn’t have the same feelings about American exceptionalism that we do,” Romney told a conservative crowd.

“I think over the last three or four years, some people around the world have begun to question that.”

American exceptionalism is a highly charged term, and sometimes means different things to different people, and is a particularly potent concept in conservative politics.

Generally, the term is said to be the notion that America has a unique historic mission, values and ideals, that are either endowed by God or enshrined in the Constitution that make it exceptional in the world.
Holy FUCK, this is shaping up to be one long, miserable campaign. If you want to know why there is absolutely no hope that America will be able to change course before we manage to destroy ourselves, look no further than this happy horseshit. It was this dumbass idea that somehow America is exceptional, and therefore not bound by the limitations that bog down other mere mortal nations, that was a huge factor in getting us into such a huge fucking mess in the first place.

This bullshit all started with Ronald Reagan, of course. Jimmy Carter tried in his own bumbling and inept manner to warn Americans that there were limits not only to our military power but to the energy resources that fueled our very way of life. During the 1980 presidential campaign, Reagan and his minions took Carter's warnings and won big by beating him over the head with them. Then Reagan won re-election by using the same American exceptionalism club to wallop Walter Mondale even harder. And ever since then, the idea that America cannot do absolutely whatever the fuck it wants to do on the world stage has been verboten in the political arena.

Yet the question needs to be asked: just how exceptional is a country that simultaneously launched two major wars of choice against pipsqueak opponents, spent over a trillon dollars on the effort, and actually managed to lose both of them? Or a country that operates its own offshore Gulag where it holds people for more than a decade without trial? Or a country which routinely tortures and abuses prisoners of war? Or a country which secretly arranges for kidnappings and deportations to foreign torture chambers? Or a country that sanctions assassinations against even its own citizens? Or a country which allows the banking criminals who crashed its economy to walk away scott free with hunderds of millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded bonuses in their pockets? Or a country in which 50 million people are at risk of dying from even relatively minor medical ailments because they cannot afford to go see a doctor? Or a country that makes filthy rich mega-stars out of the likes of Brittany Spears, Kim Kardashian, Snooki, Charlie Sheen, Lady Gaga, Adam Sandler, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry? Or a country in which less than one-third of its young adults even know what year it declared its independence?

We'd be a hell of a lot better off if these two assholes would stop trying to one-up one another and level with the public for once, but Spoiled Rotten Nation won't stand for that. It doesn't want to hear the truth: that there is absolutely NOTHING exceptional or more noble about America as a nation-state, other than the fact that those of us who were born here or immigrated and became citizens had the good fortune to not only be living on top of the greatest pile of natural resources ever bestowed upon any civilization, but that those resources were located in a relatively isolated spot on the globe which made us largely immune from conventional military attack.

And what did we choose to do with that incredible bounty? We created a crass, superficial, me-first society that has been devouring those resources as quickly as possible and despoiling this beautiful landscape to create a hideously ugly, coast-to coast shopping mall to accommodate the lowest common denominator tastes of a vast horde of drooling consumer zombies.

Bonus: To paraphrase both George Carlin and Joni Mitchell: "only a nation of unenlightened halfwits would pave paradise and put up a parking lot"


  1. Haha, Manifest Destiny! We still got it Bill!

  2. This is the best rant yet. It's all true and it all needs to be said.

  3. ...a vast horde of drooling consumer zombies.

    okay! That made me laugh!

  4. Amerifag ExceptionalistApril 6, 2012 at 9:37 AM

    Why do you not believe fervently in Amerifag exceptionalism? Ain't nuthin' else like it in the world. It's why I'm hiding in an undisclosed location.

    Which is why I'm happy as hell that there is absolutely no hope that America will be able to change course before we manage to destroy ourselves.

    Come November, I'm drunk voting like a boss for whoever I think can accelerate the suicide. Too bad Ron Paul won't be running; his brand of fail would be epic.

    P.S. A Perfect Circle does a great cover of another great Joni Mitchell original.

  5. Brilliant work Bill, well done.

    Again we end up back with poor old Jimmy Carter, who as you say was bumbling, but had an idea of the limits we needed to face. Since 1980 the Carter principal has applied in politics all over the democratic world, never tell the electorate the truth, they will punish you for it.

    I expect a whole summer of this Obama Romney rethorical pissing contest. Even if they understood what needs to be done, they are not going to tell the electorate about it. This election will be about every irrelevant diversion they can think of and will avoid the real issues at all cost.

    And this is how the Republic will die.

  6. "And what did we choose to do with that incredible bounty? We created a crass, superficial, me-first society that has been devouring those resources as quickly as possible and despoiling this beautiful landscape to create a hideously ugly, coast-to coast shopping mall to accommodate the lowest common denominator tastes of a vast horde of drooling consumer zombies."

    And this shall be our requiem.

  7. It exceptionally entertaining to watch America spiral down.

  8. Bingo!

    It's not Americans who are exceptional, it's America... the place (including, if one were to be honest, all of North America). North America was endowed with a mind-boggling array of resources. The founders of this country happened to arrive at a time when that bounty was largely untapped and unowned (although, at the time, it was used in a largely sustainable manner by the previous inhabitants.... an example almost entirely lost on the new arrivals).

    And, as you note, what have the human part of "America" really accomplished in their 200+ years of existence? Well, BIG fucking consumption/destruction/pollution. Mmmmm, we meddle... a lot... although not particularly successfully if one is remotely honest. We did support slavery officially for almost 100 years, and institutional bigotry for, well, longer, at least. We successfully executed an official (and unofficial) policy of genocide against the indigenous peoples, so we've got that going for us. Oh, and we have managed to pollute, consume, destroy, waste, use and burn up a huge percentage of the most valuable (to survival) resources we once had.

    Seriously, the national motto should be changed from E pluribus unum to Melior felicis quam bonus ("Better lucky than good").

  9. Bill..., many thanks. That was by far the best rant yet ever. You just nailed it perfectly, and had me laughing good and hard as well. The last paragraph should be put on our tombstone. It sums it up perfectly. This will indeed be a long and miserable campaign. Time to stock up on earplugs.

  10. Oh oh oh! Don't forget that we have a quarter of the world's total prison population right here! Five percent of total human population, 25% of total incarcerated. EXCEPTIONAAAAAAAL!

  11. Didn't know that that mall was where "Blues Brothers" had that great mall chase/pile up scene...(demolition began in Feb. 2012)
    The Hunger Blues:Strip Search-Blue Light Special

    1. Good eye. I remember driving past that dump when I lived in Chicago 20 years was abandoned then. I thought the picture went really well with the story since the Dixie Square Mall was so "exceptional." :)

  12. I think we are exceptional in that we had Thomas Jefferson and others to figure out a good political system for us. Too bad we don't use it.