I was right this morning when I told you that Vladimir Putin's many fans on the American right would be grievously offended by his attack on the notion of American exceptionalism. I was wrong, however, that this would make them gnuinely angry at the guy. They're not. They're tying themselves in knots trying to explain why it's no big deal that the enemy of their enemy,who is therefore their friend, says such nasty things about the country they love.
Both Peggy Noonan and Rush Limbaugh had pretty much the same reaction to the exceptionalism passage in the Putin op-ed: Damn right we believe in exceptionalism here in America, because God, because liberty, because freedom, because individualism, and did I mention God?
Putin spits all over this notion, but it's OK, because -- and you should have known this was coming -- so does Obama.
Here is Putin's reference to it in his op-ed in the New York Times today. "I appreciate this. I carefully studied [Obama's] address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States' policy is 'what makes America different. It's what makes us exceptional.' It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation." Of course he would say that. He's a communist! He has always been a communist. The White House doesn't disagree with much of this, I'm sure. The American left doesn't disagree with much of what Putin said. In fact, the White House is happily accepting that Putin wrote this.Noonan:
The irony of course is that Mr. Putin used the exceptionalism argument against Mr. Obama, who himself barely believes in the idea and no doubt threw it into his speech the way he often throws things like that in at the end: He thinks Americans like it, that the nationalist ego of the clingers demands it. But he doesn't mean it. Asked about American exceptionalism once, he said sure he believes in it, just as the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism. Thank you for that rousing historical endorsement.Never mind the fact that, as The Atlantic's Terence McCoy points out, "exceptionalism" was a term coined by Joseph Stalin to refer to America's dearth of class anger and the resulting unlikelihood of socialist revolution here. It gained its present meaning as the Jimmy Carter years morphed into the Ronald Reagan era of we're-number-one! jingoism. Prior to that, patriotic American politicians didn't have proclaim loyalty to the notion.
But even if Limbaugh and Noonan think that the disdain for the notion of U.S. exceptionalism is shared equally by Putin and Obama, they've decided the two are identical in this and yet have essentially chosen to side with the Russian authoritarian rather than the head of our own country. (Noonan: "Still, in general, Mr. Putin made a better case in the piece against a U.S. military strike than the American president has for it." Limbaugh: "My God, we have the communist leader of Russia more proudly quoting the Declaration of Independence than our own president does!") And, well, that's no surprise, because hating Obama, all other Democrats, and all liberals is what conservatism means now. It's all that conservatism is about now.