I’m writing a column about Mitt Romney for tomorrow’s Scotsman so more on him later. Suffice it to say that I thought his speech less impressive than it had to be but that, by the end of the evening, I was more impressed with and by Mitt the Man than I’ve been previously. This was because of the Mormons. Magic underpants and Missouri and all the rest of it be damned, Mitt should talk about his religion more. He may be reluctant to do so and that speaks well of him but this is an election and Mormonism is about the only thing discovered thus far that transforms Romney from battery-powered robot to actual flesh and blood.
Be that as it may, I’ve also written a piece for Foreign Policy about another trope on full, flag-sized, display this week: American exceptionalism.
[A]ssailed by the prospect of becoming, according to the Republican critique of Obama’s administration, more like Europe on the one hand and spooked by the (unavoidable) rise of China on the other, this Republican convention seems steeped in distress. How did it come to this? What caused this crisis in American exceptionalism? What happened to American swagger? Whence this fretfulness? Most of all, perhaps, where is this generation’s new frontier to be found?
Neither political party has a plausible or stirring answer to that question. When George W. Bush suggested in 2004 a manned mission to Mars, the proposal was mocked to death. Rightly so, perhaps, because it was a ploy smacking of desperation and, what’s more, one designed to distract attention from troubling events and setbacks elsewhere.
Recall that, in the Republican millennial primary, Bush had run against John McCain’s “national greatness conservatism.”