I thought the right-wing flap over Obama's remarks about American "arrogance" was too stupid to blog about when I first heard complaints on Friday. Mark Steyn was harumphing about it on NRO, and on CNN Friday night, I had to face off against Cliff May, who noted that Osama bin Laden had also called America "arrogant." I thought the controversy was too stupid to gain traction, because of the context of Obama's remarks was so clear and important.
Speaking to a group of French and German students in Strasbourg, France, Obama said the world could no longer afford American arrogance or an "insidious" European anti-Americanism:
"In America, there is 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. But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual, but can also be insidious. Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what is bad. On both sides of the Atlantic, these attitudes have become all too common. They are not wise. They do not represent the truth. They threaten to widen the divide across the Atlantic and leave us both more isolated. They fail to acknowledge the fundamental truth that America cannot confront the challenges of this century alone, but that Europe cannot confront them without America."
Surely right-wingers wouldn't blast Obama for only one part of his message, and ignore his leadership in attacking European anti-Americanism?
Of course they did. All weekend long, Fox's Sean Hannity and others were blaring "Obama Attacks America" and airing the truncated Obama quote. Karl Rove complained darkly: "There are ways to make the point he made without running down America." Hosting for Limbaugh, an overwrought Mark Steyn claimed the U.S. is "hanging upside down in the bondage dungeon being flogged and humiliated by the rest of the planet" in the wake of Obama's visit, according to Media Matters. On "Morning Joe," Nicolle Wallace claimed "at his core he does not seem to believe in American exceptionalism, the way more Republicans define it" (although Obama actually said on the trip he believes in American exceptionalism).
All this would be bad enough had Obama's trip bombed, or been merely a ho-hum foreign visit. Instead he's been hailed by world leaders and citizens for his work hammering out compromise between France and China at the G20, between Turkey and Denmark at NATO, for a new initiative to cut back nuclear weapons in Prague and an inspiring call to peaceful cooperation with Islam in Ankara, Turkey, today. A CNN Poll found 79 percent of Americans believed Europeans would have a more positive vision of their country thanks to Obama's trip.
But Hannity and Rove are still trashing Obama as un-American and ranting about Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Every time I start to I worry about Obama's political fortunes given the economic nightmare he inherited, I just look at the clowns he has opposing him, and I worry less. Here's a great video compilation of wingnut hysteria from Think Progress: