Barack Obama in 2009: “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism, and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.”
Mark Steyn, earlier this month:
If you’re not looking at the world through Mia Farrow’s blue-tinted glasses, if you’re in Beijing or Moscow, Ankara or Canberra, it’s the shadow that everyone sees, very clearly — the sepulchral Habsburgian twilight of a dimming power enjoying its last waltz. Like Vienna exactly a century ago, America retains a certain creative energy, if you’re willing to put Jay-Z up there with Franz Lehár. It is at the forefront of therapeutic culture: If Freud had thought to stick his couch on a TV set, he might have made as much dough as Oprah, or at least Dr. Phil. As Vienna sat on an underground “river of sex” (as William Boyd calls it in his recent novel Waiting for Sunrise), so in America the river is overground and its Niagara-like roar the unceasing background din of daily life: A New York mayoral candidate twitpics his penis. A putative successor to San Diego’s grope-fiend mayor is caught masturbating in a city-hall men’s room. Miley Cyrus in her scanties “twerks” — or is twerked upon (I’m not sure I can reliably say which) — live on TV. Yawn. Next . . .
No one could be further from the octogenarian Franz Josef than our young emperor, but even hip courtiers draw the line at lèse majesté, and so rodeo clowns who disrespect the sovereign are banned for life. On the distant horizon, the contours of the post-American world begin to rise, but the preoccupations of our ruling class grow ever more myopic. One of the world’s richest women flies all the way to Switzerland in order to confuse a Zurich boutique selling $38,000 handbags with an Alabama lunch counter 60 years ago, to the consternation of the poor shopgirl who knows nothing of America’s peculiar parochial obsessions, has never heard of Trayvon Martin, and lives in a city where pretty much the only black women around are the more fashion-conscious African dictators’ consorts in town to visit their safe-deposit boxes. But, as at the Hofbau, the ancient social rituals of our own court permit no diversion from the program: If it’s Tuesday, it must be racism.
Steyn, this weekend:
This is the United States of America,” declared President Obama to the burghers of Liberty, Mo., on Friday. “We’re not some banana republic.”
He was talking about the Annual Raising of the Debt Ceiling, which glorious American tradition seems to come round earlier every year. “This is not a deadbeat nation,” President Obama continued. “We don’t run out on our tab.” True. But we don’t pay it off either. We just keep running it up, ever higher. And every time the bartender says, “Mebbe you’ve had enough, pal,” we protest, “Jush another couple trillion for the road. Set ’em up, Joe.” And he gives you that look that kinda says he wishes you’d run out on your tab back when it was $23.68.
Still, Obama is right. We’re not a banana republic, if only because the debt of banana republics is denominated in a currency other than their own — i.e., the U.S. dollar. When you’re the guys who print the global currency, you can run up debts undreamt of by your average generalissimo. As Obama explained in another of his recent speeches, “Raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over a hundred times, does not increase our debt.” I won’t even pretend to know what he and his speechwriters meant by that one, but the fact that raising the debt ceiling “has been done over a hundred times” does suggest that spending more than it takes in is now a permanent feature of American government. And no one has plans to do anything about it. Which is certainly banana republic-esque.
Not to mention using the very phrase “banana republic” is rather hypocritical from a self-styled post-c0lonialist and multicultural socialist such as Mr. Obama, who would have once sneered at anybody who referred to developing nations in a style that’s as condescending as the one he’s currently affecting.
Update: “When this hyper-political president, who does these major flip flops based on political expedience, accuses Republicans of playing politics — he’s projecting just a tiny little bit, isn’t he?”, Debra Heine rhetorically asks at the Breitbart.com Conversation group blog. “Just like he is when he says they’re turning the country into a banana republic.”