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I Wish I Was Like You

By Matthew Yglesias  

"I Wish I Was Like You"

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I tend to think Tim Pawlenty has his finger on the pulse of conservatism so I was interested to see his CPAC speech live on television and in particular in his biggest applause line:

“Mr. President, with bullies, might makes right. Strength makes them submit. We need to get tough on our enemies, not on our friends. And, Mr. President, stop apologizing for our country,” Pawlenty said in one of his speech’s biggest applause lines.

“The bullies, terrorists and tyrants of the world have lots to apologize for. America does not.”

This is interesting, in part, because I don’t even remember the president apologizing for our country. That conservatives are really pissed off at Obama for raising taxes is explained, in part, by the fact that bills he’s signed into law do in fact schedule large tax increases. But rage at the president’s non-existent habit of apologizing is a pure psychological manifestation of acute sensitivity around this issue. It’s a very pure distillation of the raw, hysterical, absurd atavistic nationalism that lies at the core of contemporary conservatism.

I mean, I assume Pawlenty doesn’t raise his kids to never apologize for their conduct. Apologizing is the right way to respond to wrongdoing. Sometimes I make factual errors in my posts and I try to apologize for them. I stepped on a woman’s foot by accident yesterday and apologized. That’s life. You apologize. Is it seriously an article of faith of the American conservative movement that the American government has never done anything worth apologizing for? That’s the official view of the political movement that allegedly thinks the other movement is too statist? When I heard that tear gas that Egyptian police fired at protestors in Tahrir Square was made in America and purchased with my tax dollars, I felt kind of sorry. But evidently real rightwingers are devoid of human compassion or any ethic of responsibility.

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