The U.S. was supposed to become a normal country again. The Bush administration’s unsuccessful agenda to extend American supremacy and the repudiation of Bush in this election were supposed to prove that the United States must take its place as just one country among many. Yet the election of Barack Obama has had the reverse effect. Suddenly, the United States has prestige that matches its power and wealth, and this prestige no other country can touch. People around the world beg the United States to “exercise leadership” and solve the world’s problems (but with “humility,” please!). See here and here, among a thousand similar articles.
There are two versions of American exceptionalism. American-American exceptionalism is “we’re richer because we’re better.” European-American exceptionalism is “you’re better because you’re richer.” Both sides agree on exceptionalism, and just see different causes and implications. The Europeans expect us, on account of our wealth, to live up to (their) ideals, while we think that our wealth ought to prove to them that our ideals are better than theirs. No one of any importance seems to think that the United States is a normal country. Oh, what confusion lies ahead!
See also Ken Anderson's post here.