Quote of the Day

The economy revolution we are experiencing in the United States is without parrallel, except for China under Deng Xiaoping. Just as Deng was, economically, the first post-Chinese leader of China, Obama may be the first post-American leader of America.* From automobiles to banking to insurance to health care, the government under Obama acts as both regulator and competitor, allowing it to influence the marketplace without any particular government minister fearing the bad consequences of his actions.


17 thoughts on “Quote of the Day”

  1. Many thanks!

    I removed the footnote from the original post, because it distracted from the main point, but the * was going to go to:

    [* Interestingly, the first President of China, Sun Yatsen, held a non-original birth certificate from Hawaii, that was produced after he claimed he was born there. While President Sun asserted that he was born in Hawaii throughout his life, most historians now agree that was born outside of the United States. That Sun attended high school in Hawaii, however, is beyond dispute.]

  2. Dan, that is a nutty story about Sun Yat Sen.

    I have never had any serious doubt Obama was born in the USA.

    So, despite being many varieties of Right Wing Crank, all in one big package, I have never been a “birther”. Nor do I think Barack is the Biblically-predicted Antichrist — though I have watched and enjoyed episodes of This Week in Bible Prophecy.

    The thing I liked best about this was “Obama may be the first post-American leader of America”.

    This is a valuable and accurate insight.

    Barack Obama: The first post-American president of the United States.

  3. Whatever the future of our great nation, clearly with our enormous emphasis upon our military might, we are to remain a major player upon the world stage for many many years despite the anguish so often expressed by anti-Obamanites.

  4. Helen,

    Always glad to be rhetorical comrades-in-arms with John Bolton! In this case, though, Bolton’s meaning

    Obama is the first post-American President. Central to his worldview is rejecting American exceptionalism and the consequences that flow therefrom. Since an overwhelming majority of the world’s population would welcome the demise of American exceptionalism, they are delighted with Obama.

    One student interviewed after an Obama town hall meeting during his first presidential trip to Europe said ecstatically, “He sounds like a European.” Indeed he does.

    is opposite of mine. As I wrote earlier:

    Obama is not a socialist in this sense. people who claim he is are wrong and misguided. It is unfair to Obama and to our country to claim the President is a European-style socialist.

    Of course, Bolton’s more specific meaning is his criticism of Obama’s foreign policy. But Obama’s foreign policy has been the strong point of his administration.




    Hopefully Obama’s work wrt control without responsibility can be thwarted, manipulated, subverted, and overturned.
    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2009/08/08/obama-the-socialist.html

  5. “control without responsibility”…I think this is related to the increasing tendency among highly-educated people to seek positions that are “staff” rather than “line” in nature. If they’re in business, they would rather do studies about “energy opportunities in 2020” than run the newly-acquired Cogeneration Division. If they’re in government, they will be much more interested in studying “transportation infrastructure alternatives” than in running the Atlanta Tower for the FAA.

    Two places you will never see this kind of individual are:

    1)a sales office
    2)a factory

    The syndrome I’m describing isn’t quite what tdaxp is talking about…these people seek neither control *nor* responsbility–rather, just a vague kind of influence and a fair amount of status–but it’s close enough to mention.

  6. I’m not very bright and lately I’ve seen the term “American exceptionalism” used quite a bit. What does this term mean and why is it evil?

  7. David,

    Perhaps what these people are really after are the sinecures of an aristocracy?

    Kind of like the untitled, relations of peers scrounging a respectable “place” in the form of official appointments from the Crown during Hanoverian-Victorian-Edwardian eras of Great Britain.

  8. Zenpundit…yes, I think it’s very much like those seeking sinecures in an aristocracy.

    I hypothesize that many people who have been told since birth how wonderful they are, and have had it reinforced by attendance at an “elite” university, are afraid to take any job that might put this self-image in doubt. The downside is greater than the upside.

  9. “… afraid to take any job that might put this self-image in doubt.”

    It is like being the winning quarterback in high school. The person never gets over it. The day the envelope arrived admitting the kid to Harvard was the peak moment, the admission to the club, a moment and an admission to be clung to.

  10. Sol Vason,

    I’m not very bright and lately I’ve seen the term “American exceptionalism” used quite a bit. What does this term mean and why is it evil?

    In its original form it was a concept used to impose the European cultural and political experience on everyone else in the world.

    Since colonial days, Americans have viewed themselves as a new culture with new opportunities for humanity. Europeans always hated that idea. They hated it because it meant that the poundings of European intellectuals might have little if any relevance to America or other places. Instead, they want the European experience established as the archetype for all cultural and political entities so that they can pontificate on the actions of the whole of humanity.

    Usually, you see it used in terms of American foreign policy. European countries are each freakishly built around a single ethnic group. This has had profound effects on their foreign relations. Conflicts between nations became conflicts between cultures and races (blood and soil) instead of conflicts between groups of elites or political ideologies. WWII was in many respects just the distillation of long evolving cultural trend. The European wars of the last 150 years have all been wars peoples against peoples. Europeans usually want to project that type of blood and soil conflict that they, and really they alone experienced, onto everyone else.

    Europeans usually see American actions through the lens of their own experience. They treat America as if we were a monoculture and basically a giant France or Germany acting from the perspective and interest of that single monoculture. When Americas say that we aren’t just a giant version of France, they respond with “Oh you just think your exceptional!”

    Most Europeans can’t be bothered to learn much about America or any other culture because they believe their experiences encompass the experiences of every other culture. This ethnocentrism is why European analysis so often seems comical to Americans.

  11. I think today’s “progressive” movement has at least as much family resemblence to fascism as it does to socialism, and not only in economic policy. Marxism was a bastard child of the Enlightenment; fascism was a reaction against the Englightenment, and ever since the late 60s there has been a strong anti-rationalism tone to “progressive” thinking.

    The following quote from Aldoux Huxley, which dates from 1948, is interesting:

    “In the field of politics the equivalent of a theorem is a perfectly disciplined army; of a sonnet or picture, a police state under a dictatorship. The Marxist calls himself scientific and to this claim the Fascist adds another: he is the poet–the scientific poet–of a new mythology. Both are justified in their pretensions; for each applies to human situations the procedures which have proved effective in the laboratory and the ivory tower. They simplify, they abstract, they eliminate all that, for their purposes, is irrelevant and ignore whatever they choose to regard an inessential; they impose a style, they compel the facts to verify a favorite hypothesis, they consign to the waste paper basket all that, to their mind, falls short of perfection…the dream of Order begets tyranny, the dream of Beauty, monsters and violence.”

    (from his novel Ape & Essence)

  12. A principal driver of European history has been Romanitas, an ongoing attempt to recreate the Roman empire and its culture. Charlemagne, Louis XIV, Napoleon, Hitler all tried and failed. But somehow the US, through the creation of NATO, has reunited the European Empire from Capadonia to Hibernia by requiring that each country added to NATO must beg to be admitted!

    And Europe now has a common culture, music, archetecture, economic system – but these are American, not Roman. So some Europeans chose to define themselves by being what Americans are not. America has the world’s best military so Europeans take pride in having the world’s worst; Americans have the most creative and inventive medical system – Europeans take pride that they hardly ever invent new drugs or pioneer new surgical procedures.

    Because American movies and music are preferred by the people of their own countries, Europeans intellectuals take pride in creating movies and music even their own mothers hate.

    It must be tough to be no longer in control of your own homeland. And the country that has conquered yours does not even bother to act like a conqueror.

  13. Hmmm. I’d like to disagree with Shannon somewhat on American exceptionalism, although I think his interpretation through the lens of European purported superiority is interesting and provocative. I don’t think that’s the whole picture, though.

    As far as I can tell, ideas about American exceptionalism date back to Tocqueville, and he may even have used the phrase – can’t remember. But America is unusual among polities in a number of ways. Starting with physical geography – America is large, its population is well-scattered, and while it has large conurbations, no one of them is dominant the, way, say, London dominates Great Britain or Baghdad dominates Iraq. Our largest urban concentration New York holds (depending on how you count) maybe 5-10% of the population of the US.

    Another point of physical geography: the width of Texas is about the same as the distance from London to Warsaw.

    Another exception, as Shannon mentions, is that America is multiethnic and has been from the beginning, in contradistinction to nation-states such as those found in Europe. It’s not unusual for empires to be multiethnic, but America is not an empire – there is no central state or city (such as Rome or England) controlling great territories as imperial possessions.

    Tocqueville mentions a number of American properties that he saw as unusual. For example, our propensity to spontaneously form associations, both short-term and long-term, without top-down control. Our tendency to greatly value land-ownership (and the independence that grows out of it) is another – that’s less prominent these days, partly since fewer of us farm, but there’s a similar tendency to value owning your own business and being your own boss that probably springs from the same root.

    All these things have a profound effect on our political institutions, our assumptions, and the way we go about the business of governance. This is American exceptionalism. It’s neither necessarily congratulatory nor necessarily derogative, only descriptive.

  14. Jaed’s points are good.

    I think Stratfor pointed out that while Europe has numerous waterways, and China has one population that shares a long plain, the United States is unique for having both. By contrast, China’s internal navigation is not well interconnected, and Europe’s plain is divided between numerous groups each of which were able to resist all others.

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