I was amused and also a bit dismayed by Robert Wilkes’s chauvinistic piece on why Americans (not to mention Jews) are exceptional (“American Jews are twice chosen,” April 29). He says, “Americans are chosen because each individual citizen knows, or should know, he is responsible for his government, his nation and his neighbors.” Surely he doesn’t think that this is true only of citizens in our country. He also says President Obama is “wrong” in not thinking of America as “exceptional” and accuses him of being weak, à la Jimmy Carter. I just returned from almost a month in Asia, and everywhere I went, people brought up (unasked) President Obama, telling me how much they liked him. This was also true when I was in northern Spain last September.
When I traveled during the years the last President Bush was president, no one ever volunteered an opinion, which I assume was out of politeness, because when I asked what they thought, the answer was incredibly — and uniformly — negative. President Obama is a beacon for our world, and that’s what makes a great leader. We don’t have to cringe at a cowboy mentality or a lack of knowledge of history, current events and culture, or an unconscionable defense of torture — all of these attributes to me signify weakness. I am deeply thankful for President Obama and for his strong leadership by example.