Andrew Sullivan has an interesting article about Conservative intellectuals’ claim that Obama does not believe in American Exceptionalism, as allegedly demonstrated by this now-famous quote from him:
“I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.”
Sullivan believes this is merely a Conservative smear campaign. I am not so sure. I think it illustrates a fundamental philosophical difference between the Conservatives and Obama.
I’ve blogged about this issue a lot, and I guess the easiest way to sum it up is to say that Obama is a Patriot, but he is not a Nationalist. The Conservatives are Nationalists. As George Orwell wrote:
“By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.”