Why Is Obama So Unimpressed With America?

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Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais-Pool/Getty Images

A very strange exchange between CNN's Kathleen Parker and Speaker of the House John Boehner last night on President Obama's alleged failure to tout the exceptionalism of America in his State of the Union address:

PARKER: You know, one of the words that I listened out for in his speech last night was the word exceptional. I heard him use it when — in Tucson ... But I didn't hear him say it, and I thought at a time when you're building a speech around sort of defining the common purpose of America, that seemed to me a rather — you know, a simple direct line, fairly — pretty much a no-brainer, but he didn't say it.

BOEHNER: Well, they — they've refused to talk about America 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 twenty 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.

It's true: Obama never said the word exceptional. All he said was:

What we can do — what America does better than anyone — is spark the creativity and imagination of our people.

And:

We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives. It’s how we make a living.

And:

America still has the largest, most prosperous economy in the world.

And:

No workers are more productive than ours.

And:

No country has more successful companies, or grants more patents to inventors and entrepreneurs.

And:

We are home to the world’s best colleges and universities, where more students come to study than any other place on Earth.

And

We are the first nation to be founded for the sake of an idea — the idea that each of us deserves the chance to shape our own destiny.

And:

I know there isn't a person here who would trade places with any other nation on Earth.

And finally:

That dream is why someone who began by sweeping the floors of his father's Cincinnati bar can preside as Speaker of the House in the greatest nation on Earth.

We know Boehner heard that last part, because he nearly cried. But maybe he just wasn't paying attention during the non-Boehner parts of the speech? That would explain the glazed-over look of utter disinterest affixed to his face the entire time.

SOTU not exceptionalist enough? [Ben Smith/Politico]