Transcript from Vice-Presidential Debate, October 11, 2012
"Thank you. Let me begin by pointing out some facts. Last month's job report showed that unemployment is at its lowest level in four years. Last week's unemployment numbers, just out today, were the strongest weekly numbers in more than four years, since George W. Bush was President.
Our economy is not strong enough, not yet. But it is undoubtedly getting stronger. It is stronger than it was when Barack Obama took office. And it is far, far stronger than it would be if we had continued to follow the Republican policies of George W. Bush, the policies that brought us to the brink of another Great Depression. But it was the policies of Barack Obama that brought us back from that brink, that brought us to the stronger economy we now have. Folks, this is not about blaming President Bush, it's about
learning from our mistakes. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan think we should go back to the failed Republican policies of the past. Barack Obama and I know that our country is better off than we were four years ago. We won't let Mitt Romney take us backward. We're going forward."
PS-I'm grateful to Greg Dworkin for including my new Daily News article in today's pundit roundup. I just figured I'd give the link here again to anyone interested.
The article examines Obama's concept of American exceptionalism, which highlights our strengths as a pluralistic yet unified national community that can serve as a counter to fundamentalism. I also argue that Mitt Romney's attacks on Obama's belief in American exceptionalism are but part of a broader, divisive strategy to paint the President of the United States as somehow less than fully American.
Romney criticized Obama for remarks at a press conference where he said:
"I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism. I am enormously proud of my country and its role and history in the world...we have a core set of values that are enshrined in our Constitution, in our body of law, in our democratic practices, in our belief in free speech and equality that, though imperfect, are exceptional."I added:
Do you see any derision here? I see someone expressing great pride in his country — even while humbly acknowledging its imperfections — and, in recognition of the international audience to whom he was speaking, a polite, diplomatic acknowledgement that many people are proud of their country as well. Would Romney have preferred that Obama finished his statement by adding: “But the British and the Greeks are wrong, my friends, for only America is exceptional!”?My conclusion:
Obama, like his opponents, embraces American exceptionalism and sees America as having a unique role to play in the world. The difference is that the President’s American exceptionalism isn’t about chest-thumping and cheerleading. His centers on our ability to show the world that a population of many faiths, cultures, and races can see itself as a single people, diverse yet united.For more on these themes, please check out my book: Obama's America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity (Potomac Books, 2012)
To President Obama, our role is to serve as an alternative model to fundamentalism of every stripe. In a multi-polar world defined by the clash between fundamentalism and pluralistic democracies, we must lead not only by the strength of our arms, but also by the example of our unity.