Obama’s considered approach to even something that would seem as clear cut as a heinous crime against humanity does go against the grain of American “Exceptionalism”. The country’s frontier heritage and enshrined freedoms have nurtured a mentality of opportunity (upside) without bounds (downsides).
Seth Godin illustrates this aspect to American culture in this post “Don’t Tell Me What I Can’t Have: A Paradox”…
- “In the USA, it’s quite alright for media to talk endlessly about all the things the typical person can’t possibly afford. Cribs, jets, jewels, dinners with Jennifer Aniston. At the same time, you’re guaranteed to get negative feedback when you talk about things people have chosen not to have. If you tout a great product that only works on a Mac or a Kindle or on Android or in Norway, all the people who have chosen to use a different piece of tech or live in a different country get angry, that special kind of angry that belongs to the pampered. It’s not that they don’t want to buy it, it’s that they don’t even want to know that it’s for sale…The market tells us that there’s a big difference between "don’t tell me what I can’t have," and "don’t tell me what I’ve chosen not to be able to have." Dreaming of winning the lottery is fine, apparently, while experiencing pangs of regret over a decision is not.”
Unfortunately, it’s not really a paradox. Because in most American’s minds the lottery is winnable and all of the coveted glamour and luxury is entirely within their reach. In a similar vein, too many think that “wars” are “winnable” if we just “go in there and kick some ass!”. It’s the American Dream Bubble. It gets pumped up with endless aspiration and patriotic rhetoric while decrying anyone dare burst it with any bristling realities.