House Speaker John Boehner’s Exceptional World

Chinese dragonJohn Boehner, the new speaker of the House of Representatives, second in the line of succession to the presidency of the United States (after the vice president), recently attacked President Barak Obama’s State of the Union address because the president “refused to talk about American exceptionalism. We are different than (sic) the rest of the world,” said Boehner.

Representative Boehner cannot be faulted for patriotism (which we’ll discuss in an upcoming blog) but he might have been a bit more discreet in terms of his geopolitics. Exceptionalism has deteriorated in recent years into “We do what we please, anywhere we please…” That might be construed as a Good Thing, if it’s your own country which is “exceptional.” That is to say, the United States can ride rough shod over other sovereign nations, imposing American “justice” wherever they fancy, by any means they choose, and at whatever cost to the “natives.” So far, so good. But you must have the military and economic firepower to back up your rough riding. Otherwise your exceptionalism is relegated to an exceptionally poor bluff.

Unfortunately Representative Boehner has lost sight of is the Chinese dragon waiting in the wings, waiting to make its exceptional debut. When it does—and it looks increasingly as if it will be sooner than later—the dragon will have no trouble justifying its actions, however heinous, however illegal under international law. Why? Because illuminated American politicians like Representative Boehner will have paved the way with their own exceptional precedents.

The Spanish have a saying for these exceptionally interesting times: “¡Que Dios nos coja confesados”! “My God take us as we’re coming out of confession!”


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