There was a lot of chest-thumping, or weasel-whacking or monkey-strangling or what have you, about the awesomeness of the United States among the wingerati over the past few days. Rich Lowry declared that the United States is the best because we are the best, no one rocks as hard as we do, bitch.
Our greatness is simply a fact. Only the churlish or malevolent can deny it, or even get irked at its assertion.
Bill Kristol then gave Lowry some kind ironic boo-yah about the fact that Obama talked about how great the US is right after Lowry wrote his column.
The exchange was fairly typical of what passes for high-brow conservatism these days. And yet there are those who wonder why conservatism has such little appeal for intellectually-inclined voters.
Weird. Did I just stumble onto Yglesias’ blog?
Hopefully Issa will call for Congressional Inquiries on the matter of whether Obama thinks America is the best or the bestest country evah. Since he’s a crypto-Muslin-Blacknationalist, he probably only thinks America is the bestcountryevah.
You sound like a snark lovin’ Murka hatin’ smart ass snooty left coast holier than thou godless elitist DougJ. IOW, my kind of guy.
Our greatness is simply a fact. Only the churlish or malevolent can deny it, or even get irked at its assertion.
You left out the best part. Then Kristol gave Lowry a chest thump and a high five.
Thoughtful Black Co-Citizen
We’re the best because we’re the best. Shut up, that’s why also too!
Yeah, and there’s that little asterisk, that leads to a little footnote, that says “as long as I’m the one who defines ‘greatness’.'”
“Except for anywhere within 100 miles of a coastline (Great Lakes included) and any major population centers inland. Those parts of America suck.”
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
“And yet there are those who wonder why conservatism has such little appeal for intellectually-inclined voters.”
I think you’re missing a word.
I’ve never needed to pronounce something the bestest ever in order for me to support it. Not with myself, my kids, or this country. It’s pointless and actually gets in the way.
But then again, I think the pledge interferes with a person’s responsibility to the country.
Snarki, child of Loki
our country is God. let’s get a slurpee.
c u n d gulag
It kind of begs the question of why, if we’re such an exceptional nation, we always have to keep reminding ourselves of just how exceptional a nation we are?
I think if we got over ourselves, and really looked in the mirror, this nation might be a Hell of a lot better off. How ‘unexceptional’ of me.
But then, I’m a Socialist/Communist/Fascist/Atheist who voted for our unexceptional “urban” President.
Surprisingly large percentage of what I would classify a “sensible” posts in the comments for that article. It’s running something like 3-to-1 skewed towards comments of the “if we’re so great, then why are you bother bragging about” or “uhhh, I think the British Empire would disagree that you are the bestest evah” variety and just a single argument for that used typical empty conservative insults (“Does Michael Kinsley write your talking points?”)
“Only the churlish or malevolent can deny it” doesn’t have quite the same rhetorical effect as “Only a fool — or possibly a Frenchman — could conclude otherwise.”
Why did I read the Lowry quote in Fredo’s voice?
Must be a commie…
we’re the best (on paper) !
we’re the best (of all the assholes who fought on the continent) !
we’re the best (some restrictions apply) !
we’re the best (because half our country was forced, at gunpoint, to live up to those ideals, and they still resent it) !
… among the top 1% of income earners.
deep philosophical question: should benevolence be determined by the one holding the gun?
we’re #1 (because there aren’t any others to challenge us, and all of our allies (however reluctant) agree) !
Lowry shoulda won Salon’s contest.
Thanks for reading that so I didn’t have to.
Yup, to paraphrase that great American thinker, Mao Tse-Tung, Greatness comes from the barrel of a gun.
Its all we have left that makes us a great power; compared to the modern industrialize world: we suck at providing for our poor and sick, we suck at providing opportunity for our children, we limp along lamely at education, our infrastructure is falling apart around us. But we do have a kick-ass military & will kill brown people wherever we damn well please!
We spend more on the military than the entire rest of the world put together and we had better think about spending even more on it or all those other things may come crashing down on us.
Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther
Once upon a time, I lived in a foreign land, for many years. While living there, I was frequently told, in the warmest of tones, “oh, but you’re not at all like an American!”
Then I took the decision to return to these United States. A good friend looked at me and said “The only problem with going to America is that you have to live with Americans.”
I think it might have been people like Rich Lowry who inspired these folks to speak as they did.
So, to sum up: America? Great, absolutely. Americans? Frequently douchbags.
If churlish means kicking Kristol in the shins, (or punching him in the neck) I would rather be churlish.
Amerika great? Two words: Peak Oil.
Baby – its acomming and we are the country least able to handle it – ugly and all our military will only cause us to fall harder. Coal is not the answer nor solar/wind or even fission – liquid fuel is what we built our country on and its what we need to maintain it. Looks bad. Thermo-nuclear fusion could solve that issue but the current NIF program is a joke and geared ONLY for weapons research.
The Navy has a program (Nike) that might solve the problem but it is dying for lack of funding by the thugs – maybe spending $10 gal for gas (getting closer people) will make the rich even richer but it will kill our economy – people, wake up – the sands are running out.
@Alwhite: But we do have a kick-ass military & will kill brown people wherever we damn well please!
One minor modification: wherever and whenever we damn well please!
I’m reading a fantastic book right now: Piers Brendon’s “The Decline and Fall of the British Empire.” I highly recommend it. The parallels and historical repetitions are just stunning. Its not that you don’t know this stuff, but you just seldom see it all together. The continued iteration of “greatest/god blesstest” country in the world, Civilizing mission, insults too great to be borne, etc…etc…etc… is typical of empires just before they crumble. There are tons of other parallels from a description of hysterical London citizens “taunting” the tigers in the zoo during the reports of the Indian Mutiny to our own renaming of “freedom fries” during the run up to the Iraq war, ceaseless use of the concept of “protecting white women” from savagery, fear of immigrants, use of non citizen armed forces to fight wars. One of the great moments in parallelism was to read British accounts of the uselessness of educating Egyptians since they were just incapable of being educated and would end up drinking and gambling in the “urban areas” just like before. It might have been all the “abolish the department of education” people talking.
I for one embrace our new Idiocracy. Its got electrolytes!
From outside of America it has always appeared that these self-evident truths were not so much about the rights of man, but the rights of Americans. Which would be OK if it wasn’t accompanied by so much self righteous wanking.
Slavery in Mexico was abolished in 1829, guess who re-introduced it to Texas.
The most cogent parallel is Canada. Were native Americans treated less appallingly in Canada? The answer is pretty obvious.
On consideration I’m not in a position to cast stones, but who does Lowry think he is kidding apart from himself?
And now the rich want it back again. It will be interesting to see how long America can remain the bestest without a middle class.
Too easy. A selection: Iran 1953, Guatemala 1954, Vietnam 1965, Congo 1960, Chile 1973, Grenada 1983, Iraq 2003 and Iran 201X.
Benevolence 0, Overwhelming Power 8.
Since WW2 the only alternative was the old Soviet Union, so not much choice there. But Lowry might be surprised to learn that the bulk of the population of East and South Asia do not look upon the idea of China and India becoming world powers with alarm. However they are alarmed at how so many of America’s elites choose to react to it.
The big surprise is not that the US in hated around the world, it’s how little the US is hated despite its ruthless pursuit of naked self interest and the moral preening that so often accompanies it. Basically the world cuts the US a hell of a lot of slack.
America is the certainly most powerful country in history. Does that make it the greatest? Perhaps it would except for one glaring problem, poverty. For the outside visitor the US appears to be a third world country onto which a first world country has been overlain.
It’s not a good look, but I suspect that Lowry is well practiced at averting his eyes from any such unpleasantness.
Question of the day: What’s the difference between the Republican Party and the Taliban?
One group uses radically fanatical religious zealotry, fear and intimidation to take away the rights of its countrymen, especially women and homosexuals. They are determined to create a theocratic totalitarian government that is run on ancient religious dogma. They believe in enslaving an entire class of people and making them work for poverty-level wages, and that if they don’t or can’t work they should be left to starve. They are racist, xenophobic, uneducated, close-minded bullies who insist that, if it’s necessary, their ideology should be forced on an entire nation of infidels — even at gunpoint. They believe that public schools are for teaching their religion. They believe that the only way to insure their future is to continue to amass an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and be prepared to use them against any and all enemies. They believe that the West is destroying the morality of their children. They believe the world will end in a great conflagration and that only those who are exactly like them will be saved.
And the other group wears turbans.
We’re WINNING (the article was from 2005).
Lowry is right we are the greatest, just not in the ways he fantasizes we are. If other countries were so envious of our american way of life, we wouldn’t have to militarily force it upon them. They’d adopt or steal it bypassing all the misery of american “help”.
Yesterday I saw a set of photos on Observer called Detroit in Ruins. All those libraries and other amazing buildings just abandoned and trashed. It’s even more maddening to think that the downfall of this country was preventable. Lowry and the “We’re #1” crowd are delusional and dangerous people.
I seriously doubt if any of those ‘high brow conservative intellectuals’ have ever actually read any serious conservative philosophy.
Doug, I read your college for profit post late after I had came upon an interesting quote from a 2007 piece by Jonathan Kozol on public education for profit called “The Big Enchilada”. It was in Harper’s (subscription) so I’m still looking for the whole piece. The quote described Kozol getting a Wall Street investment banking firm stock-market prospectus from a friend that analyzed the financial benefits from privatizing our public schools. “The education industry represents the final frontier of a number of sectors once under public control”. They mentioned colleges but saw much greater profits could be gained by moving into public elementary and secondary schools. One of the analysts observed enthusiastically, “the K-12 market is the Big Enchilada”.
I hate to resort to Nazi comparisons, but wasn’t it the unshakable belief in their divinely-inspired superiority (‘we’re the best because we’re the best and anyone who doesn’t see that is a malevolent being who needs to be worked out of the gene pool’) what got them into a whole heap of trouble? Loving your country is great and admirable, especially if that means you demand high standards from it. Rank nationalism is a whole different monster–a form of insanity, actually–that appeals to those who are deeply insecure. When someone carries on like Rich Lowry it says far more about their own inadequacies than it does about the ‘malevolent’ nature of those who don’t agree with him.
@DBrown: Better check out,”Reuters, Christopher Swann, Dec.29th,2010.”
Reminds of something I read about, re the Roman Empire: as it slid into decline, it started praising itself in ever more extravagant terms.
Nothing to add except to point out this podcast on top the dropped last week.
Depends on how you define “great”, starbursts guy. I mean, if we’re defining it in a place where you would like to raise your children, I might be more inclined to raise them in a place where the social safety net is superior, there won’t be a “debate” about teaching religious superstition alongside solid science in their schools, higher ed doesn’t cost absurd and ever-increasing amount, and social mobility is greater. Someplace like Austria, for instance.
I wonder sometimes how many people who have the knee-jerk “America, fuck yeah!” reaction have actually been outside this country? I mean, I don’t expect anyone to travel to the Congo and not miss the quality of life in the US, but after having spent time in Munich and Vienna, I’m wondering what exactly about those locations I’m supposed to find so lousy compared to the US.
@aimai: Done! Downloading to my Kindle right now.
Partly because the same parallels have been going through my mind of late…
I don’t know how Conservafundies reconcile how their great country is SO full of unwashed hippie lefty pinkos, but then again, reconciliation is not their strong suit.
We are the best at killing brown kids. Maybe not bang for the buck, considering how much we spend doing it, but we gotta keep our 18 year old high school grads busy somehow…
People who use the word churlish are DORKS!!!!
@cleek: Was that directed at me :-)
All those dirty foreigners all over the place who don’t even speak English
at allwithout a German accent.
My wingnut SIL — who lives in a small rural town in Washington state and has never been to Europe — insisted to me that the French live in abominable conditions. She refused to believe me when I reported that, in general, French life seemed to be often more pleasant than life in the U.S. She had “read” somewhere that life in France sucked and any information that I imparted after having just returned from a month in Paris and Lyons was dismissed as purely anecdotal and not true. Plus, she was mad at me for contradicting her.
@Svensker: It amazes me how people in the US think Canada is just some primitive backwater full of snow and ice and nothing else. Actually, I encourage this view, as it makes them less likely to try and emigrate there. And I’d actually live in the Yukon voluntarily. There are two Thai restaurants in Whitehorse, that’s enough to keep me happy.
It’s self evident that I’m the best Human Being on the Planet.
Why?, well that’s self evident, duh.
How can the United States be great when we have a communist Nazi Muslim for president?
I’ve always felt that any country that has to constantly tell everyone everywhere just how great it is, probably can’t be all that great. A truly great country is mature and confident enough that it doesn’t feel the need to tell everyone what would be obvious if it were true.
I think a reasonable motto for the US would be:
Doing Less With More
@Yutsano: you forgot reindeer, maple leafs and hickey pucks
@Svensker: “small rural town in Washington state” plus standard-issue wingnut provincialism narrows it down to about 95% of the land mass of our fair state. Out of curiosity, in which particular Washington hog swamp does she reside?
@Yutsano – Sorry to disappoint, but there are no Thai joints here in Whitehorse. Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, Indian and Chinese we have, though.