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September 13, 2013


Mike King

Doug, two observations first. 1. I met Duck Edwing (one of the Spy vs Spy cartoonists for Mad) a few years ago in Blue Ridge, where he has retired. Interesting old coot. And totally in character for a Mad contributor. 2. Hendrik Hertzberg has a good commentary up on the New Yorker website about Putin's NYT column, and the especially rich paragraph about American "exceptionalism." The irony of Big Pootey discussing The Lord and the lord's blessings in the New York Times is well, hell, I don't know, just plain fanfreakinamazing. My old diplomacy professors at IU are turning over in their graves, if they are did, that is. Lastly, I'm not sure when this whole discussion about American exceptionalism became a political litmus test for patriotism. But count this political liberal as firmly believing we are indeed exceptional. What other major, educated, industrialized society has a health care system that makes its citizens prove they are worthy of medical care if they can't afford it? Oops, off to the races on a different topic. Best to go back to our camp fires now.


Why, M.Rex! I'm flattered, seriously. To have a semi-old-pro journalist commenting on my lowly BLOG...very cool!
Anyway, I often wonder how many minds of certain age range were shaped by the illustrative satire of Mad Magazine? "10 Cents Cheap" was, indeed, the literary bargain of our time.
And, you're right Healthcare Reform is a different topic: one in which I expect we differ. I would say this, however: if Obamacare would have been focused upon getting care to folks that need it but can't pay (vs. place the gubm'nt in charge of everyone's) it would be moving like shit through a goose.

john shaughnessy

Douglas, the whole ‘exceptionalism’ thing really irritates me. I suppose it has a lot to do with my loathing of braggarts (with the exception of Muhammad Ali). The U.S. has accomplished many exceptional things in the course of its history and no doubt will in the future……but I don’t “get” why it is so critical to our national psyche to have to keep stating it. I mean, what does it really by us, our culture, our influence…..you name it? I don’t think it buys us anything outside our borders other than resentment. It does however give rhetorical fodder for politicians trying to debase opponents ……and, I suspect, only the mindless rubes (aka low information and real-low information voters) are inspired by such unnecessary acclamations.
For my two cents, the exceptionalism mantra seems to have a veiled question mark behind it. “Our actions don’t speak for us…….but we are exceptional……., arent’ we?


Thanks for the thoughtful comment J.J. I don't disagree with your sentiment. However, the historical definition (as outlined in the original post) has less to do with Americans than America: e.g., you don't have to have a particularly high opinion of Romans or Greeks to appreciate that their nations were "exceptional" in their time. IMHO the world, in fact, needs the U.S. to be exceptional; and, current administration futility notwithstanding, it still is. Or, at least, it can be: i.e., the last line of defense for values and institutions that underpin liberty, justice, free enterprise, etc

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