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American exceptionalism: Real & enduring

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Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Vladimir Putin's open letter to the American people in last week's New York Times has sparked a rather vociferous debate about American exceptionalism, abroad and here. The Russian president, in discussing the mess that is Syria, essentially said that the United States is nothing special and that, under God, we all are created equal.

It was a blast across the American bow loaded with Cold War shot in response to President Obama's reiteration that we are an exceptional nation.

The never-shy and regular Trib columnist Pat Buchanan says Mr. Putin merely was offering “an argument which people all over the world believe. They are sick of hearing Americans talk about ‘we are the indispensable nation,' as (former Secretary of State) Madeleine Albright said.”

Jim DeMint, the former Republican U.S. senator of South Carolina who's now president of The Heritage Foundation, penned an open letter to Putin (hand-delivered to the Russian embassy), reminding him of the Founding roots of American exceptionalism — “based on limiting the power of government so it could protect our human rights rather than infringe upon them.” Putin doesn't have much respect for either, Mr. DeMint reminded, chiding Putin as the proverbial raven chiding blackness.

Indeed, America is exceptional, flaws and all. Just as indeed, it has its critics, either ignorant of America's special place in history or jealous of it. And America will remain exceptional — as long as someone slaps a governor on a president doing his damnedest to make it less so.

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