The day before yesterday, the idea that America is a work-in-progress, an unfinished experiment, a project that Americans are constantly striving to improve and perfect, was considered uncontroversial, even laudable.
Yesterday, however, President Obama expressed this idea, remarking to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev that the United States is still “working on” democracy. So, of course, today conservatives find this outrageous.
Peter Wehner, the Bush administration’s former minister of “intellectual seriousness,” goes an extra step, though. Writing that the president’s words are “of a piece with Obama’s unprecedented criticisms of America since he took office,” Wehner concludes that “Our president simply doesn’t hold this nation in very high esteem.”
Now, it seems pretty obvious to me that, in order to believe Barack Obama would go to all the trouble of running for president of a country he just didn’t like very much, one either has to be A) incredibly stupid, or B) there is no B. In order to write such a thing, however, one just has to be a shameless hack.
This isn’t the first time Wehner has charged those with whom he disagrees with harboring animosity toward their own country. Back in October 2008, Wehner suggested that those Bush critics who refused to interpret the surge as a vindication of the Iraq war were motivated by “an ideological antipathy not just to an American President, but to America’s cause.”
For someone who has condemned Glenn Beck’s googly-eyed paranoia as “harmful to the conservative movement,” Wehner is clearly at ease about trafficking in similar paranoia when he can’t think of anything else. Wehner wrote that Beck’s claim that President Obama had a “deep-seated hatred for white people” was “quite unfair and not good for the country.” I don’t see how claiming that the President of the United States doesn’t like the United States very much is any better.