A really good column by Leonard Pitts Jr. about who we used to be (and, yes, it includes some nice words about Newt Gingrich; I think they are fair but couldn’t bring myself to repost them, so go read):

One day, once upon a time, we all looked up. Los Angeles looked up, Miami looked up. Hoboken and Duluth looked up. Beijing, Moscow, Havana, London, Brisbane, Cairo, Krakow, Tehran, Tangiers, Paris, Madrid, Johannesburg . . . the world looked up from its daily doings. We all stared up at the familiar old moon where men, people who looked like us, were walking around. And for that brief moment we were united in possibility and in wonder.

[ … ]

But that was once upon a time. Forty-three years later, we still face challenges — schools are failing, the planet is sick, towns are dying, our justice system is not just, we are dependent for energy on those who hate us — but our confidence in our ability to meet those challenges seems shrunken. We have traded the inspirational for the ideological and learned to lower our expectations. Big ideas are unwelcome. We call it pragmatism. It feels like surrender.

[ … ]

Greatness is our heritage, but heritage is another word for past. The legacy of the quiet hero who left us this week is that Americans do not settle for heritage. They push back frontiers. They take small steps and giant leaps.

That is who we have always been.

And that went without saying, once upon a time.