Jay Cost in a very thoughtful column notes that the President’s rhetoric, the tone of his supporters, and his exaggerated sense of his own importance are contrary to the republican traditions of America. Here is an excerpt criticizing the President’s mea culpa for all previous American history at the United Nations:
[I]t’s fair to criticize the actions of the previous administration to a point, but speeches like his U.N. address often move beyond that to suggest a broader failure, one that implicates the mass public. For instance, the best rejoinder he has to those who question the “character” of his country is: “look at the concrete actions we have taken in just nine months,” which he suggests are “just a beginning.” This rhetoric does not befit the leader of a democratic republic, especially one as great as the United States of America. The President should be willing and able to defend the “character” of his country beyond his own, inconsequential-to-date actions.
This jaundiced vision is Obama’s biggest problem, and it is the root of his increasing disconnect from moderates and independents. It separates him even from someone like Jimmy Carter. Jimmy Carter undoubtedly was troubled by the cruel racism of the South in which he grew up. It grated against his sense of justice. But it’s quite different to be a member of the leadership class taking a magnaminous stand for inclusion than it is to be a member of the erstwhile oppressed class triumphally criticizing the country’s entire past history. The former is an act of bigness; the latter a dangerous indulgence in moral exquisteness that knows no natural limits.
Obama ran as the biracial healer of America’s still unhealed racial wounds. But in reality, for most of his life he only identified with one half of these groups, and that group, especially since the 1960s , has defined itself in terms of its righteous victimhood and alienation from the majority. This was not always true. Guys like Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Booker T. Washington did not talk or think this way. They loved America and wanted to be fully part of it. In their eyes it was mostly good, but it had some problems. This is not true, however, of the Kanye Wests, Reverend Wrights, and Al Sharptons of the world, and nor is it for Obama.
For Obama, America has been mostly bad until now, and only acquired an ounce of moral legitimacy by rejecting that past, which includes his election. But in his eyes sustaining that legitimacy depends upon the majority’s continuied obeisance to him. Dangerous.