Sneaking in a few minutes yesterday to do a conference call with thousands of Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom evangelicals, Paul Ryan averred that President Obama had put the country on "a dangerous path"; to wit:
It's a path that grows government, restricts freedom and liberty, and compromises those values, those Judeo-Christian, Western civilization values that made us such a great an[d] exceptional nation in the first place.
Evangelicals have been pledging allegiance to Judeo-Christian America for decades--ever since the rest of the country began to tire of that Cold War shibboleth in the 1970s. This was Ryan's cute way of calling the president both unAmerican and anti-evangelical.
But it also begs the question of which particular foundational values the Obama path is compromising.
Opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage may, by evangelical lights, be core Judeo-Christian values, but it is hard to claim that these made America great and exceptional in the first place. One original value that set U.S. apart from the community of nations was the refusal to have an establishment of religion, but that's pretty much a minority report in the Judeo-Christian scheme of things.
Personally, I think that Judeo-Christian value that made our nation so great and exceptional was the conviction that we were great and exceptional. It's something we inherited from the sense of chosenness that the Jews inherited from Abraham and the Christians inherited from the Jews.
But, answering a reporter's question at a NATO summit in Strasburg in 2009, President Obama seemed less than a true believer: "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism."
That's a dangerous, dangerous path.