On CNN’s Parker/Spitzer last night, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) attacked President Obama’s State of the Union address because, Boehner claimed, Obama “refused to talk about American exceptionalism:”
BOEHNER: Well, they — they’ve refused to talk about American exceptionalism. We are different than the rest of the world. Why? Because Americans have — the country was built on an idea that ordinary people could decide what their government looked like and ordinary people could elect their own leaders.
And 235 years ago that was a pretty novel idea. And so we are different. Why is our economy still 20 times the size of China’s? Because Americans have had their freedom to succeed, the freedom to fail. We’ve got more innovators, more entrepreneurs, and that is exceptional but you can’t get the left to talk about it. They don’t — they reject that notion.
As the National Journal’s Ron Fournier noted yesterday, the entire focus of Obama’s speech was American exceptionalism and the need for the U.S. to “win the future” over the rest of the world. Indeed, Obama even said to Boehner that America is the only country where “someone who began by sweeping the floors of his father’s Cincinnati bar can preside as Speaker of the House in the the greatest nation on Earth.”
Ironically, a member of Boehner’s own party had the exact opposite critique of Obama’s speech, saying Obama focused too much on American exceptionalism. Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) told Politico the night of the speech, “I don’t think we need the president to remind us how great this country is“:
I don’t think we need the president to remind us how great this country is, we don’t need him to remind us how this country became as prosperous as it did.
If Boehner “looked bored during President Obama’s State of the Union address, perhaps it’s because he wasn’t listening,” CQ’s Taegan Goddard quipped.