Lightning Round: American Exceptionalism Stops at the Water's Edge.

  • John Judis examines the danger U.S. presidents court when they refer to foreign threats as "evil" and determines that using it as a justification for war unnecessarily raises the stakes in a given conflict. Insofar as the point of referencing evil is to rally people to your crusade, I'm hard-pressed to disagree. But I wonder if the tendency of conservatives constantly pointing out the existence of evil in order to make themselves feel morally superior has reduced the potency of referencing evil to the point where it's simply commonplace to hear it in presidential discourse.
  • As I've said here before, the U.S. Senate would probably function better if there was less fraternity between its members, which is why I'm not particularly concerned if John McCain's buddy Joe Lieberman was treated brusquely by Al Franken yesterday. Or, to cite another example, I don't exactly get choked up by this display of camaraderie from Tom "Dr. No" Coburn describing his wonderful personal relationship with Barack Obama. And what exactly does Coburn mean when he regularly writes the president offering him "encouragement" despite being "180 degrees from him on policy on most issues?" Even though I will do everything in my power to stop you, I wish you the very best of luck, Mr. President.
  • The most interesting thing about James Inhofe flying all the way to Denmark to rant about global warming conspiracy theories to some seriously baffled European journalists isn't that Inhofe was rightly described as "ridiculous" by a Der Spiegel reporter, it's that there are real limits to the bubble of American exceptionalism people like Inhofe surround themselves in. In the United States, I'd be reading RSS feeds from major news organizations repeating Inhofe's easily refutable claims without remotely questioning them. Outside of the bubble, he's treated like the fool he is.
  • Remember when conservatism defined itself in opposition to radicalism, rather than aligning itself with radicals? Yeah, neither do I. Or what about seeking real solutions to public policy problems instead of making up/ripping off stuff? Hmmm. Perhaps those golden days when blocking military funding was treason and the gallows were up next? I must have been dreaming.
  • Remainders: An Obama-Lincoln comparison that isn't entirely convincing, yet does offer insight into the fleeting nature of presidential approval; Rush Limbaugh continues his earnest women's outreach program dehumanization and reproductive slavery; I'm sure the fact that the Kerry-Boxer climate bill reduces the deficit means it will be embraced by the fuzzy arms of our bipartisan Congress; Bradford Plumer helps you get acquainted with the other greenhouse gases steadily warming the planet; and my new Senator understands that the Senate is a broken institution.

--Mori Dinauer