To what degree the Obama camp has been infected by this unquestioning attribution of righteousness is up for grabs. The administration's edicts to Britain earlier this year are probably more the result of an insensitive imperiousness: "When we say something is good for us, that should be the end of it. After all, we know how eager you are to please."
Still, it's a safe bet that Obama and his advisers have little on-the-ground feel for what membership of the EU entails for its citizens: having everything from the size of your wine bottles to the nature of your light bulbs controlled by a body in which you have no real say. Living in a country that can't control its own immigration policy or fishing waters. Having the decisions of your highest courts subject to a yet higher court, so that a known terrorist rabble-rouser can never be deported but instead resides comfortably in your capital city for years on public support. Huddling under an umbrella bureaucracy so caught up in its own sense of noblesse oblige that if you ever do get to vote on something and you deliver the wrong answer, you'll be required to go back and vote again until you get your mind right. Think Americans would put up with that? The insurrection greeting American membership of anything like the EU would make Timothy McVeigh's anti-federal shenanigans in Oklahoma City seem like kicking the cat.
Moreover, for Philip Gordon, the US assistant secretary of European affairs, to have decried referendums of any sort in January as having "often turned countries inward" is wildly at odds with the traditional American veneration of democracy. I haven't heard Obama castigating referendum-happy California for its resultant navel-gazing and myopia.
The Obama administration's attempt to discourage the British electorate's ever being given a choice in a membership that controls the minutiae of their daily lives, yet on which they have not been consulted since 1975, was high-handed. Should the UK indeed perform slavishly as a mouthpiece for American policy, maybe Philip Gordon is right — that a "strong British voice" in the EU is "in the American interest". But squelching the democratic process is not in the American spirit.