So is American exceptionalism, according to a an op-ed from last Thursday’s New York Times.
And it’s not just the author of the column, the Times’s Berlin Bureau Chief Katrin Bennhold, who feels this way. Her view is shared by Henrik Enderlein, Timothy Garton Ash, and Dominique Moïsi. Who are these people? They are respectively the president of a Berlin-based school, a professor of European history at Oxford University, and a senior adviser at the Paris-based Institut Montaigne.
Ultimately, it is less a matter who they are than what they think of Donald Trump’s leadership of the free world that justifies their inclusion in the article. “When people see these pictures of New York City they say, ‘How can this happen? How is this possible?’” Enderlein is quoted as saying, before bleakly adding, “Look at the jobless lines. Twenty-two million.”
Garton Ash for his part feels “a desperate sadness,” while Moïsi laments, “America has not done badly, it has done exceptionally badly.”
With all this damning testimony, you’d think there’s little need for the author to pile on in, but pile on she does:
The pandemic sweeping the globe has done more than take lives and livelihoods from New Delhi to New York. It is shaking fundamental assumptions about American exceptionalism — the special role the United States played for decades after World War II as the reach of its values and power made it a global leader and example to the world.
Today it is leading in a different way: More than 840,000 Americans have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and at least 46,784 have died from it, more than anywhere else in the world.
Presumably Bennhold and her pals were more optimistic about the U.S. when its commander-in-chief was a man who denied American exceptionalism altogether and whose credo was to “lead from behind.” Of course, Bennhold and the Times are willing to overlook that leader’s many failures on the world stage because his name wasn’t Donald Trump.
But bias is the least of the author’s problems. Her focus on the massive joblessness and deserted streets out of context is disingenuous and misleading. It wasn’t Donald Trump’s “exceptionally bad” leadership that brought the nation and the world to this sorry state of affairs. It was a deadly, never-before-seen virus. Is Bennhold honestly unaware that during the three years leading up to the pandemic, the nation was enjoying unprecedented prosperity under Trump’s stewardship?