I didn’t think the right’s “American exceptionalism” attack on Obama could get any dumber, but Sarah Palin has now outdone them all. She’s now faulting Obama for insufficient praise for our armed forces:
She also made a slight dig at President Obama for saying Monday at Arlington National Cemetery that his “most solemn responsibility as president [is] to serve as commander in chief of one of the finest fighting forces in the world.” Answering a question about Memorial Day, Palin said, “This is the greatest fighting force in the world, the U.S. military. It’s not just one of the greatest fighting forces. And I sure hope our president recognizes that. We’re not just one of many. We are the best.”
As it happens, the reporter got Obama’s quote a bit wrong. This is what Obama actually said: “It is my most solemn responsibility as President, to serve as Commander-in-Chief of one of the finest fighting forces the world has ever known.” But this isn’t good enough for Palin: If Obama doesn’t say that our armed forces are the bestest, baddest, most ass-kicking-ist fighting forces in all of human history, he’s subtly denigrating the troops.
This is a reminder, if you needed one, that the charge that Obama doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism — which has taken literally dozens of forms now — will be central to the 2012 campaign. It’s also a reminder, though, of what this attack line is really about. It’s impossible to imagine that a significant number of voters could hear Palin’s latest attack and come away thinking there’s something to it; her claim is just too dumb for people to take seriously. But these sorts of attacks aren’t about the actual claims themselves.
Rather, they are part of a much broader effort to insinuate that you should find Obama’s character, story, motives, identity, cultural instincts and intentions towards our country to be alien and fundamentally suspect. The idea is to keep piling various versions of this charge — no matter how ludicrous — on top of one another, like snow piling up on a roof.
Mitt Romney has already made it completely plain that various versions of this insinuation will be a major feature of the 2012 GOP nominee’s argument against Obama. Donald Trump’s experiment in birther hucksterism — even though it crashed and burned -- confirmed this beyond any doubt. Now Palin is at it, too.
Hearing this kind of thing from Palin actually makes me want her to run. Who better than her to reveal how vacuous, childish, jingoistic and unbecoming of the presidency this sort of nonsense really is?