Bill Clinton was America’s first postmodern president.
He never could quite get to the truth because he was too busy deconstructing the language: “it depends on what the meaning of the world ‘is’ is.”
This was annoying, but proved to be mostly innocuous as far the country was concerned. His presidency, for the most part, was “no foul, no harm.”
It always seemed that Clinton didn’t like being president—he didn’t respect the presidency. That’s to say, he liked the privileges and perks of the presidency more than the power of the presidency. That’s not to say that Clinton was anti-American. He was simply pro-Clinton.
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This is not exactly true of Barack Obama. I think Obama likes being president and the power it brings. But he doesn’t respect the presidency—its history and traditions. Does this make him anti-American? Not necessarily. Other presidents haven’t always respected the traditions and history of the American presidency, but with Obama we have something hitherto unknown in the presidency—a president who is post-American.
Obama told us he was beyond the confines of country when he was running for the presidency in 2008. Of course he didn’t use those words, but every indication, for those who had ears to hear, pointed to the fact nonetheless. And his speech at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin is a prime example:
I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as candidate for President, but as a citizen—a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.
What does it mean to be a citizen of the world? Isn’t that just another way of saying you have no affection for a particular place and people . . . that you are beyond parochial patriotism . . . that you are post-American?
Promoting your global citizenship on foreign soil when you’re a candidate is one thing. Blaming America on foreign soil when you’re the president is something else entirely.
Skip ahead a few short months from candidate Obama in 2008 to President Obama in 2009. One of his first foreign initiatives was dubbed as “The Apology Tour.” In early April, while in Strasbourg, France, the President said:
In America, there’s a failure to appreciate Europe’s leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.
Arrogance? Dismissive? Derisive?