WASHINGTON — Good news, America! Just three years and 351 days into his presidency, President Obama has finally accepted the concept of American exceptionalism in the world.
“America remains the one indispensable nation,” Mr. Obama said during Monday night’s debate. Perhaps he meant the “one indispensable nation” in the Western Hemisphere or the “one indispensable nation” in North America except for Canada.
At the very least, it was a major improvement over the time Mr. Obama was asked directly if he believed in the proud concept that America has a unique responsibility in the world as a beacon of freedom and individual liberty.
“I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism,” he said. Which is to say, he doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism at all except as some self-delusion that so many countries suffer.
And that wasn’t the only good news at the final presidential debate that focused on foreign policy.
After years of dissing Israel, romancing Islamic regimes and apologizing for America’s involvement in the Middle East, President Obama announced that indeed he still considers Israel an ally and said he would stand with the country if it is attacked by Iran with a nuclear bomb.
This, of course, was great news. But then he cast doubt on his own sanity when he followed that up with a claim about how he has developed “the strongest military and intelligence cooperation between our two countries in history.” If this is true, he really might want to let Israel know.
America can also take solace knowing that Mr. Obama announced that the doomsday plan arrived at in Congress to cut $500 billion in devastating cuts to the military “will not happen.”
That’s great, but where was Mr. Obama’s leadership simply within his own party when the hostage stand-off over desperately-needed spending cuts spiraled out of control and rested on the plan to gut the military? If Mr. Obama had forced his own party to face the music and cut the crazy spending, then the plan to go after the military never would have come up.
Another bright spot came when Mr. Obama appeared to agree that indeed the $16 trillion debt that has piled up is a national security crisis.
But this set up one of the most devastating lines of the night from Mitt Romney.
“We cut taxes 19 times, balanced our budget,” Mr. Romney said tautly. “The president hasn’t balanced a budget yet.”
Most promising of all, after years of bowing to foreign leaders and maintaining a general posture of apology, was hearing Mr. Obama announce that he believes that the United States of America — much like himself — “has stood on the right side of history.” It was such an improvement over the time he went to Cairo and listed all the things America has done wrong and all the ills he said we export.
“On Arabic TV, you said that America had been dismissive and derisive. You said that, on occasion, America had dictated to other nations,” Mr. Romney chided, before ripping the zinger of the night.
“Mr. President, America has not dictated to other nations. We have freed other nations from dictators.”
It wasn’t Mr. Obama’s best moment, but overall the foreign policy debate sure gave us Americans plenty to cheer up about regarding our president and his view of America in the world.
But then again, as he whispered to Russia earlier this year, he will have a lot more “flexibility” if he gets a second term.
• Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.