President Obama cited American exceptionalism at least ten times in his speech at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa today.
Early in his administration, Obama went out of his way to downplay the nature of U.S. exceptionalism, claiming that it was really no different than how any other nation's citizens saw their own country's uniqueness. So his speechwriters knew better than to use that word. But Obama cited how America is "unique" (read: superior) six separate times, and told his audience — and the rest of the world — that "when the world needs help, it calls on America." Time's Zeke J. Miller is one of the first among many who are choosing or will choose to ignore this change in posture, choosing primarily to obsess over whether U.S. ground troops will be called upon to quash the ISIS/ISIL threat.
Here are the six instances in the speech where Obama referred to how "unique" America and its armed forces are (bolds are mine throughout this post):
... As your Commander-in-Chief, I will not commit you and the rest of our Armed Forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq. After a decade of massive ground deployments, it is more effective to use our unique capabilities in support of partners on the ground so they can secure their own countries’ futures.
... we cannot do for the Iraqis what they must do for themselves. We can’t take the place of Arab partners in securing their own region and a better future for their own people. We can't do it for them, but this is an effort that calls on America’s unique abilities -- and responsibilities -- to lead.
... In a world that’s more crowded and more connected, it is America that has the unique capability to mobilize against an organization like ISIL.
In a world full of broader social challenges, it is America that has the unique capability and know-how to help contain and combat a threat like Ebola, the epidemic in Africa. And yesterday, on top of all that we’re already doing to help, I announced a major boost to our response.
... Major General Darryl Williams, commander of our Army forces in Africa, arrived yesterday -- he’s already on the ground. And our armed forces will bring their unique, unrivaled expertise in command and control, and logistics and engineering, including creating an air bridge to get health workers and medical supplies into West Africa faster.
... Our Armed Forces are unparalleled and unique. And so when we’ve got a big problem somewhere around the world, it falls on our shoulders. And sometimes that’s tough. But that’s what sets us apart. That’s why we’re America. That’s what the stars and stripes are all about.
There's more. Here is how we're "better":
At home, we’re bouncing back, better positioning ourselves to win the future than any nation on Earth. Overseas, we’re moving forward, answering the call to lead. And even when it seems like our politics is just dividing us, I want you to remember that when it comes to supporting you and your families, the American people stand united.
Let's also add these:
... in an uncertain world full of breathtaking change, the one constant is American leadership.
In a world where technology provides a small group of killers with the ability to do terrible harm, it is America that has the capacity and the will to mobilize the world against terrorists –- including the group in Syria and Iraq known as ISIL.
... If there is a hurricane, if there is a typhoon, if there is some sort of crisis, if there is an earthquake, if there’s a need for a rescue mission, when the world is threatened, when the world needs help, it calls on America. Even the countries that complain about America -- (laughter) -- when they need help, who do they call? They call us. And then America calls on you.
Time's Miller ignored the abrupt disappearance of anything resembling the "lead from behind" mantra which defined the Obama administration's roughly first five years. And of all things, given the "red line" fiasco with Syria and chemical weapons, he used similar language to describe Obama's no-ground-troops promise:
Obama Rules Out U.S. Troops in Iraq, Syria
President Barack Obama redrew a firm line in the sand for his military planners Wednesday, saying he won’t send any American combat troops to take on the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS)—under any circumstances.
His comments, at U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, come a day after Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said he would consider recommending that the President deploy U.S. ground troops should the current air campaign and Iraqi efforts fail.
That promise to not send troops into combat would seem to imply that failure is an option. That's not particularly exceptional, is it?
... White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest and a spokesman for Dempsey said he was clearly talking about a hypothetical, but Obama made clear that in all circumstances his answer will be the same.
“One of the things we’ve learned over this last decade is America can make a decisive difference,” Obama said. “But I want to be clear: The American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission.”
Obama said more than 40 countries have pledged to be part of the international coalition against ISIS, but didn’t announce any direct commitments to join in airstrikes against the militant group.
Boy, I'd sure like to see that list and the substantive commitments made.
I expect the press will downplay Obama's frequent invocations of America's exceptionalism — er, uniqueness, in favor of emphasizing, as Time's Miller did, Obama's "no ground troops" pledge. That will keep the worst of the antiwar backlash from the left at bay until after the midterm elections.
Note: Photo is from President's Weekly Address on September 13.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.