Thursday, January 27, 2011


John Boehner goes on CNN's Parker Spitzer and he and Kathleen Parker agree that President Obama's State of the Union address fell short in its invocations of American exceptionalism. This is transparently untrue, as Greg Sargent notes:

[Obama] did describe America as "the greatest nation on Earth." ... Obama also said: "For all the naysayers predicting our decline, America still has the largest, most prosperous economy in the world."

... Obama said: "We are the first nation to be founded for the sake of an idea -- the idea that each of us deserves the chance to shape our own destiny."

Obama also said: "What we can do -- what America does better than anyone else -- is spark the creativity and imagination of our people." The key phrase there is "better than anyone else."

Greg shakes his head in wonderment:

What's amusing about this ongoing assertion from the right is how easily debunked it is, and how casually its proponents simply pretend that the historical record doesn't exist.

"Amusing" isn't the word I'd use -- it's standard right-wing operating procedure, and it works for them.

Once right-wing propagandists have successfully seized on some bits of empirical evidence, however flimsy, and woven them into a damning meme about a liberal or Democrat (damning, that is, if you believe it), they simply know that they can keep repeating the meme no matter what happens afterward and it will be believed, not only by the right-wing faithful but by quite a few stray swing voters who've been brought around by endless repeats of the meme by conservative bloviators and by right-wing friends and neighbors at backyard barbecues.

What's going to discredit such a meme in the eyes of these believers? A Greg Sargent blog post, and maybe a few other blog posts, and perhaps a New York Times op-ed or two, plus a mention halfway through a Matt Bai think piece, plus a couple of segments on MSNBC? That's supposed to be enough to counter a tale pounded into people's heads day after day, 24/7, in the wingnut media?

Greg concludes:

I'm starting to get the sneaking suspicion that these people would prefer that Obama didn't use such language, and are repeating this claim again and again in hopes of making it so.

At this point, they don't care what Obama actually does, because it doesn't matter -- they've said often enough that his belief in exceptionalism is insufficient, so now they actually have made it so. And if they've made it so for 50% of the American electorate plus one, they've won.

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