“The Americans in their intercourse with strangers appear impatient of the smallest censure and insatiable of praise. The most slender compliment is acceptable to them; the most exalted seldom contents them; they unceasingly harass you to extort praise, and if you resist their entreaties they fall to praising themselves. It would seem as if, doubting their own merit, they wished to have it constantly exhibited before their eyes. Their vanity is not only greedy, but restless and jealous; it will grant nothing, whilst it demands everything, but is ready to beg and to quarrel at the same time. If I say to an American that the country he lives in is a fine one, “Yes,” he replies, “there is not its equal in the world.” If I applaud the freedom which its inhabitants enjoy, he answers, “Freedom is a fine thing, but few nations are worthy to enjoy it.” If I remark the purity of morals which distinguishes the United States, “I can imagine,” says he, “that a stranger, who has been struck by the corruption of all other nations, is astonished at the difference.” At length I leave him to the contemplation of himself; but he returns to the charge, and does not desist till he has got me to repeat all I had just been saying. It is impossible to conceive a more troublesome or more garrulous patriotism; it wearies even those who are disposed to respect it.”
~ Alexis de Tocqueville, “Democracy in America”
Or, as a reader was explaining to me this morning, the reason for our failure in Iraq is not that we launched a criminal war of “liberation” leading to perfectly predictable chaos that was foreseen by critics of the war (including Benedict XVI) a decade ago, but because “the towelheads” are animals who were unworthy of our largesse. So it wasn’t really our failure at all (because America has never lost a war). We were and remain the Greatest Country in the World and we must, in the words of Stephen Colbert, re-become the greatness we never weren’t. The problem is the ungrateful Iraqis who failed to respond to our efforts at bombing them into the Great Society. Oh, and Obama, of course, because he’s not really an American and is secretly a towelhead too and so it’s all his fault. That’s what it means to belong to the Party of Personal Responsibility.