Last night Sarah Palin went to a Christian school in Pennsylvania and made a speech which many today are saying was the framework for a stump speech in her potential run for President in 2012. In the speech she repeatedly used the phrase “American Exceptionalism” in describing what she says is the nation’s Judeo-Christian heritage.
“We must continue to build on our Judeo-Christian heritage, and it’s nothing to apologize for,” Palin, hero of the surging tea-party movement and a possible 2012 presidential candidate, told about 700 donors at the Plumstead Christian School, in upper Bucks County.
It was the biggest applause line for Palin, who spoke frequently in her roughly 30-minute speech and a question-and-answer session with students of both the role of faith in her life and political career and of her belief that God should play a greater role in the public square….
….In stressing the notion of “American exceptionalism” – the idea that the United States is fated to be the world’s superpower and moral leader – Palin clearly intended to establish a contrast with Obama, who has sought to strengthen U.S. ties to other nations that were weakened in the Bush years.
Voters in Florida will probably recognize the term “American Exceptionalism” which another candidate here used just as often in his speeches. That would be Marco Rubio. Rubio used it a lot when he was campaigning and pretending to be a Tea Party guy, appealing to voters who want to believe that America is still the greatest country in the world, with or without the religious connotations. He also used it to cozy up with evangelicals, and one in particular last September by the name of David Barton, who endorsed Rubio in the Senate race, along with Republican House candidate Daniel Webster:
Last week Marco Rubio rallied with a group of 200 Evangelicals near Orlando, but there was one in particular that one might want to pay attention to. He is a man named David Barton. Barton, among other things is the man orchestrating the push to change the recent Texas textbook standards by pushing them to the far right, along with assisting in developing the radical Texas constitution. He’s a favorite of the Tea Party movement and has emerged as Glenn Beck’s go-to-guy for all things historical.
Barton’s primary message Wednesday – and most days – is that the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation, was intended to be a Christian nation and would be a whole lot better if everyone started buying into that. Barton traces a number of social ills, for example, back to the prohibition of compulsory prayer in public schools.
Barton is an engaging ball of energy, riffing on the Founding Fathers and proclaiming “American Exceptionalism” – a staple of Rubio’s stump speech.
Barton has a habit of bending historical events to suit his Christian worldview, like claiming the separation of church and state is just a “myth.” Barton also believes that the Center For Disease Control should regulate homosexuality.
He thinks that homosexuality should be regulated because homosexuals “die decades earlier that heterosexuals,” have “an HIV prevalence sixty times higher than the general population,” that they “have Hepatitis B virus five to six times more often and Hepatitis C virus infections about two times more often than the regular population” and they “are less than three percent of the population but they account for sixty-four percent of the syphilis cases.”
“American Exceptionalism” may just mean different things to different people, and in the case of David Barton, there’s a vast array of beliefs under a wide tent from which to choose. I would venture to guess that Sarah Palin herself may not even be familiar with all of Barton’s ideas, not that she would disagree with them. All she cares about is reading the speeches prepared for her by whoever writes them for her and laces them with dog-whistles and red meat for the masses. To her they’re just words strung together that make people chant “run, Sarah, run!”
Her Tea Bagger followers may find that buying into Sarah’s “American Exceptionalism” gets them a lot more than they bargained for.