"Woodard's book is grounds for optimism. That we've stuck together
for so long despite vast differences and previous secession threats (not
just from the South) is remarkable -- especially now that we see how
precarious the European Union is. What may make America truly
exceptional is that our nations chose to weave themselves together
relatively early in their histories. History shows that retrofitting
unity onto nations with identities calcified for centuries doesn't work
over the long haul."
The Star-Tribune, "STRIB" to its subscribers, also published my Bloomberg View essay on the 2012 elections back in November.
In an unrelated matter, I was surprised by the pope's announcement that he was resigning, as I thought that just wasn't done. Back at one point when John Paul II was thought to be dying, I went to Vatican City and filed this story on likely papal successors for the Christian Science Monitor. I'm curious how many of the names surface as successors this time around. (Notice Ratzinger didn't make the expert's short list, which shows how hard it is to read the intentions of the College of Cardinals.)