If America is exceptional among nations, it has to prove it – constantly


Related Topics

There was quite the flap here last month when Vladimir Putin dared suggest in an article in The New York Times that America’s long-held credo that it is “exceptional” among nations is wrong and even dangerous. This country’s sense of superiority was being challenged. But how can Uncle Sam hold his head up in the current mess?

There have been no scuffles on the floor of Congress yet and no one ever said that the democratic process doesn’t get messy sometimes. But if one country really aspires to be the grown-up in the room it needs to behave as such.

How does it look when its own President can’t even leave for an economic summit in Asia he really needs to attend? On Monday a spokesman for the Democrat leader of the Senate, Harry Reid, accused Speaker John Boehner, who leads the Republican majority in the House, of losing the plot.

“There is now a consistent pattern of Speaker Boehner saying things that fly in the face of the facts or stand at odds with his past actions,” Adam Jentleson said.

Mr Boehner is under colossal pressure from all sides, but that doesn’t mean there mightn’t be method in what he is doing. It is perfectly plausible he doesn’t want a deal to re-open the government yet because he knows it will fall short in the eyes of his Tea Party members. Their fury would make striking a subsequent deal on the debt ceiling before 17 October all the more impossible. If he is to be steamrolled, better it happens all at once in mid-month.

As a domestic political strategy this makes a degree of sense. The shutdown is unsettling, but the  fact is alarm clocks buzzed across America on Monday morning and the work-week began more or less like any other. Furloughed federal employees are a tiny fraction of the workforce. The Statue of Liberty is closed but it’s not the first time.

The problem is that America is not Liechtenstein (and no disrespect intended to Liechtenstein) and this is about more than just which political party – or factions within them – wins and loses. Even if we assume that two weeks from now a double-deal on the budget and the debt ceiling will be done, that is a long time for the rest of the world to wait. This was China’s point. Equity and current markets may also start to get spooked before then, and so might credit agencies.

Mr Boehner may think he has 14 days to look like he can stand up to the Democrats, perhaps in hopes of not being ousted from his high office when finally it turns out he can’t, but he may be deluding himself precisely because America is indeed exceptional at least in terms of its place in the global financial system.

Never mind that in almost every other respect right now it is starting to look exceptionally silly.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Day In a Page

Read Next

I don't blame parents who move to get their child into a good school

Chris Blackhurst
William Hague, addresses delegates at the Conservative party conference for the last time in his political career in Birmingham  

It’s only natural for politicians like William Hague to end up as journalists

Simon Kelner
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent