Sunday, April 19, 2015

Only in America...

By Richard Barry



In a piece in the Weekly Standard today, Stephen F. Hayes discussed a recent speech by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker delivered in New Hampshire as part of his bid to secure the GOP presidential nomination.

He’d been speaking for a little more than ten minutes, telling stories about his battles in Wisconsin to a crowd of Republicans nodding their heads in enthusiastic agreement. Then, in the middle of an extended passage on the United States’ role in the world, Walker invoked “what makes us arguably the greatest nation in history.”

Arguably? At a Republican gathering in the Obama era?

He didn’t pause and no one seemed to notice. After more than two-dozen speeches here over a long weekend that served as the unofficial start of the New Hampshire primary process, the audience probably assumed that Walker had given the nod to American greatness without any qualifier, as had virtually every other speaker.

Hayes delivers the story with what I take to be a bit of a chortle, which is fine. We are all accustomed to conservatives crowing about American exceptionalism. Big joke.

Having said that, I'm inclined to give Republicans a little room on this, especially when I consider then candidate Barack Obama's speech "A More Perfect Union," delivered on March 10, 2008. The context of his remarks was controversial comments about race made by the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Obama's former pastor.

In describing his own family history, Obama stated that "in no other country on earth is my story even possible."

If he meant it is extraordinary that a country still so riven by racial conflict could be on the cusp of electing a president with his background, that may well have been true. If he meant, which is more likely, that no other county, no other electorate, was progressive enough, open enough, to embrace a national leader with his multicultural background - please.

I guess to be a serious contender in American politics you either have to drink that particular brand of Kool-Aid or pretend you have. 

Maybe Walker's comment was just a slip, or maybe he accidentally said something he really meant.

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