On Monday, Jay Nordlinger mentioned an encounter he had during his recent trip to the Salzburg Festival:
Shortly after I get to Salzburg, I meet a member of the beautiful set — a natty, quick-tongued Euro. He says, “Who’s going to win the presidential election?” I say, “I don’t know, but I’d bet Romney.” He says that such a result would be very bad for America. Why?
Well, Romney is insular, don’t you see. And Obama has experience in the world. Moreover, Obama has accepted American decline: “He realizes that America is not a superpower anymore — or that there are other powers, like Brazil and China.” (Brazil!)
Ladies and gentlemen, I will go all McCarthyite on you: In my experience, those who want to see America weak — or wouldn’t mind seeing America weak — like Obama, a lot.
While this is a phenomenon I’ve noticed myself, I want to award today’s QotD to the inimitable P.J. O’Rourke, whose latest column is part nostra culpa, part rallying cry. In particular, I’m struck by what he identifies as both a cause and a symptom of American decline:
America once valued the high-skilled. Now we value the high-minded. We used to admire bold ideas. Now we admire benign idealism. This doesn’t make us good, it makes us wrong. The bold can be achieved. Of the ideal, there is none in this life.
[…T]he concept of individual liberty is harder to grasp than we Americans think. Those with little experience of liberty understand license and lawlessness better than they understand freedom. We want everyone on earth to have sanctity, dignity, independence, and responsibility. And we want everyone to want it for each other. We want this not because of our idealism but because of our selfish desire for a little more peace and plenty. The world will never be good. People fight hard and cause a lot of trouble when commanded by their self-interest. But people fight viciously and cause ruin when commanded by the interests of others. Individual liberty is the best we can do.
Go read what he has to say.