Barack, Rush and I

My experience of Barack's speech today was a little unusual. I was on the road, drving to Northern California (I'm blogging from the lobby of some hotel in Santa Rosa), and the only station I could find broadcasting the speech was on the freakin Rush Limbaugh show. He didn't play the whole thing but what he did play he spoke over intermittently with cranky commentary, as though he was one of those robots in Mystery Science Theatre 2000 critiquing a really bad film. So when Barack said "I come here as a fellow citizen of the world" Rush chimed in "citizen of the world? I'd like to see that passport." And when Barack said

The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand.  The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand.  These now are the walls we must tear down.

Rush complained that Barack was channeling Ronald Reagan except the walls Barack spoke of were "imaginary."

Oh, and I can't leave out that Rush consistently referred to the speech as "the messiah's sermon." And you'll be shocked to learn Rush didn't like the speech much. He was "disappointed" and felt it ran a bit short. Thanks for your concern, Rush.

But what struck me the most was a comment Rush made in some post-speech analysis: that Obama and Democrats in general "just don't understand American exceptionalism." In other words, this speech just reinforced the right's meme about Barack that he's un-American, despite the fact that it's actually quite a patriotic speech.

Now, I don't know Rush well enough to know the difference between when he actually believes something and when he's just spewing talking points, but this whole "American exceptionalism" thing struck me as a particular passion of Rush's and many of his callers.

For example, when Barack said:

Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen - a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.

Rush saw this as an insult to America because by declaring himself a citizen of the world, he was rendering his US citizenship as secondary.

And when Barack said:

Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law?  Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don't look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?

Rush considered this a blatant slam against America and George W. Bush. Who re-constructed Europe, Rush demanded angrily, who is the one country doing more for Africa than any other!?  

But what Rush and the whole "American exceptionalism" crowd don't get is that our outrage about what's happened over the past 8 years isn't about hating America, it's not about bashing America or our president. Rather, it's about the profound disappointment at what America has become under this president based on the deep belief that we are exceptional, that we are better than this and we should start acting like it.

Tags: Barack Obama, berlin speech, Rush Limbaugh (all tags)



Re: Barack, Rush and I

I wonder how Rush woud react to

I speak today as both a citizen of the United States and of the world. I come with the heartfelt wishes of my people for peace, bearing honest proposals and looking for genuine progress.

This is Ronald Reagan at the UN June 17th, 1982 php?pid=42644

by lolo08 2008-07-24 03:46PM | 0 recs
Does not compute

I think someone at Kos pointed out McCain also has it on his website somewhere.

by conspiracy 2008-07-24 03:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack, Rush and I

You have to remember the base of the Republican party is intensely nationalistic. They call it American exceptionalism but then Kaiser Wilhelm thought German exceptional, the British Empire was going last forever, China is intensely nationalistic (Americans would be in a state of shock if they knew just how many Chinese want to poke a stick in our eye). It's a sort of John Wayne, we saved the world, video game nationalism. Fortunately a majority of Americans even some that don't want to accept it, realize we need to cooperate with others. They don't like it when the US all of a sudden becomes the bad guy. Think for a moment. Basically Bush can't visit Berlin because hundreds of thousands would be on the streets demonstrating. Deep down most Americans can tell the difference even if they hate to admit it to themselves. Wait a couple of weeks and see what sort of poll numbers Obama is enjoying then. McCain played this all wrong. He looked like a very sore and bitter loser.  

by ottovbvs 2008-07-24 04:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack, Rush and I

And if Obama had done the opposite, speaking about American exceptionality, I'm sure Rush would have said that was the dumbest thing he could have said in Europe.

Why even diary something about what Limbaugh says?  It's not worth the energy or time.  He's a complete shill.

by DaveG 2008-07-24 04:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack, Rush and I

Exactly.  Analyzing Rush's words is about as interesting and insightful as analyzing the words of a drunken fratboy.

by deepee 2008-07-24 04:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack, Rush and I

The funny thing is that Obama is an 'American exceptionalist,' in his own words:

Still, Obama stands by the universality of the American proposition: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness under a constitutional government of limited powers. "I believe in American exceptionalism," he told me, but not one based on "our military prowess or our economic dominance."

Rather, he insisted, "our exceptionalism must be based on our Constitution, our principles, our values and our ideals. We are at our best when we are speaking in a voice that captures the aspirations of people across the globe."

Roger Cohen - Obama's American Idea 10 Dec 07

I wrote a diary on this late last year.  There are as many factions of 'exceptionalist' as there are congregations of Christianity, and your comment regarding 'the profound disappointment at what America has become under this president based on the deep belief that we are exceptional' bears out how ingrained this is in the American world-view, and arguably correctly so, in my opinion.  Obama's with us on this one.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-07-24 04:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack, Rush and I

Rush would find fault with anything Obama said.

Reagan also said he was a "citizen of the world" so it shows how ignorant and zealot the Republicans are to point this out as anti-American. Let's face it-- the right wing is not very creative but they know how to say the same thing over and over.

by Lolis 2008-07-24 04:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack, Rush and I

What is wrong with  " American Exceptionalism " as you put it .

You make it sound like something foreign .

By the way what has America become ?

As much as I want Bush out of office , I don't agree with his policy but America has nothing to apologize for .

Look our differences on politics should stop at the waters edge in my view , I get really wary of those  who feel we have to apologize for something to the world .


by lori 2008-07-24 04:19PM | 0 recs
Did you read the last paragraph?

I think you missed the point completely. Todd is saying America is exceptional in the minds of liberals and Democrats. That is why everyone is so passionate about trying to make it better. If people didn't care so much they wouldn't say or do anything.

by conspiracy 2008-07-24 04:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack, Rush and I

I don't agree with his policy but America has nothing to apologize for

I consider this nationalist boilerplate.  

Every country has something to apologize for. No country is without stain or imperfection.

by politicsmatters 2008-07-24 05:31PM | 0 recs
No country is without stain or imperfection.

Obama said that too....

I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we've struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We've made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.

I'm surprised the NeoNutzis haven't jumped all over it already -- "Obama hates America!"

by Beren 2008-07-24 07:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack, Rush and I

We don't have anything to apologize for? Not torture? Not Guantanamo? Not the suspension of habeas corpus? No apology for secret prisons or rendition of prisoners to other countries so they can be tortured with harsher measures than this administration will allow? No apology is owed for Abu Grahib? No apology for voting Bush into office again in 2004 given everything we knew about him?

Sure, you are right. We don't have anything to apologize for. We are perfect.

by MS01 Indie 2008-07-24 06:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack, Rush and I

Yes, we do have to apologize and play nice with the world. We have done far, far more to set the world out of balance than any other country that currently exists. I think even Israel would probably agree with me when I say that we should be repentant for what we've wrought.

We cannot keep borrowing money, entering trade deals, asking for help in the war on terror while telling them, "but we really don't need you, and don't you forget it".

But fortunately for the both of us, Obama neatly sidestepped this issue. We can move forward without having to look behind, and thank goodness for that. The only way that we won't prevent the world from going into chaos and the United States crashing and burning without a helping hand is if John McCain becomes President and continues Bush's policies. I have to admit, I wasn't sure about whether Obama would cut the mustard. But impressing Israel's leaders was my barometer, and damned if he didn't pull it off. Even while making a point to visit Palestine in the same visit. I think his proven competence even made Merkel more receptive to him.

by vcalzone 2008-07-24 08:32PM | 0 recs
you're a masochist

The only reason to listen to Limbaugh is that he is a pretty good 180 degree reverse barometer- the exact opposite of what he says is true.

The truth is that Obama does understand and believes in "American exceptionalism" and has said so publically and in his books.  But not the way Mr. OxyContin spews but the way that front pager Shaun Appleby laid out in a December, 2007 diary: 26/691

by mboehm 2008-07-24 04:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack, Rush and I

I wonder if Rush could or would have commented on the number of American flags being waved in the audience at various points in the speech.

When's the last time we've seen THAT overseas?

by grassrootsorganizer 2008-07-24 04:42PM | 0 recs
Rush and the messiah

I got a chuckle out of Rush yesterday when a very prim Christian lady called up and took him to task for constantly referring to Obama as "the messiah" and making references to Christ.  She was "deeply concerned" for Rush's "soul".

It was a hoot and a half.  He wanted to stay all sweet and pandering with her, but he couldn't stop making the Jesus references to Obama, even as he was trying to explain himself to her.  And she just kept politely calling him a blasphemer.

It was awesome!

by grassrootsorganizer 2008-07-24 04:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack, Rush and I

I saw Rush on David Letterman a good 20 years ago and Dave asked him if he really believed all the garbage he spouted.

Rush smiled, looked Dave in the eye and said:

"Dave,,,,I'm an entertainer....Just like you."

Everyone laughed.

This film clip is probably still in analog format on some shelf in New York or wherever.  I'd love to see it show up on YouTube.

by prius04 2008-07-24 04:47PM | 0 recs
Funny Rush...

I thought he said first that he was a Proud citizen of the United States first and the world 2nd and by the way Ronald Wilson Reagan said that he was a citizen of the world as well...

So I guess Rush is no longer enamored with his hero RWR...

by dvogel001 2008-07-24 05:10PM | 0 recs
Mystery Science Theater 3000

Or MST3K or Misty. ;-)

by JerryColorado23 2008-07-24 05:14PM | 0 recs
MST 3000

Great post and I love the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 reference.  One of my favorite all time shows.  I am trying to figure out which robot Rush is.

by jmnyc 2008-07-24 06:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack, Rush and I

Why do we repeat what the right wingers say?  They don't even deserve a response, much less a word for word restatement of their words.

Ignore Rush Limbaugh and his words don't matter.

by agpc 2008-07-24 06:36PM | 0 recs
exceptionalism...they are scared

Why is seeing the bigger picture and a more real picture of our position so scary.  In some ways we are more a citizen of the world first and an American second....but for sure we are both.  Pretending or denying it does not change it being so.

Thanks for the diary.

by Jenai 2008-07-24 06:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack, Rush and I
The only time I visit the twilight world of the radio right is when the wife and I drive across Kansas once a year...
There have been times when we have had to pull over
because a laughing driver is not safe...
by nogo postal 2008-07-24 06:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack, Rush and I

The ending of your diary is particularly strong.

But what Rush and the whole "American exceptionalism" crowd don't get is that our outrage about what's happened over the past 8 years isn't about hating America, it's not about bashing America or our president. Rather, it's about the profound disappointment at what America has become under this president based on the deep belief that we are exceptional, that we are better than this and we should start acting like it.

by MS01 Indie 2008-07-24 07:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack, Rush and I

Why do I "Hate America" Rush?

For openers,your attitude.

by spirowasright 2008-07-24 07:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack, Rush and I

Green 960 AM, you may be bit too far north to get it easily but they do stream it too

by zerosumgame 2008-07-24 07:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Barack, Rush and I

I fear that Obama and we--Progressives, Democrats, and Obama supporters--may be perilously close to losing the far-right-wing-Rush-Limbaugh-fan-vote. Oh the humanity!

by bigdaddy 2008-07-24 07:56PM | 0 recs
Limbaugh has always pissed me off...

But I don't think anyone can help but be appalled at his gross misrepresentation of Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot's positions. It's simply unacceptable.

by noop 2008-07-25 06:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Barack, Rush and I

Todd, we're not "exceptional."  That is one of the notions that allows Americans to believe that our military interventions are all for the good.

And let's face it--we are about bashing the president, because he has been one of the worst presidents in our unexceptional history.

by Thaddeus 2008-07-26 08:17AM | 0 recs


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