About that “Hand over Heart” Claim…

Last week, Doug Mataconis noted the claim by Mitt Romney that Americans “are the only people on the earth that put our hand over our heart during the playing of the national anthem.”

Doug linked to some photographic evidence that contradicted that claim.  For those who prefer moving pictures, I give you Glenn Kessler.

Why are so many American so insecure that they have to create a world in their own minds wherein America is exceptional in every way? And that’s not snark:  I find it to be an exceptionally (pardon the word) interesting question both sociologically and politically.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics, , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. michael reynolds says:

    Because we aren’t exceptional any longer. We are not the freest nation on Earth. Our people are not the healthiest or best-educated or longest-lived or even the richest. Our infrastructure is a mess and our institutions are looking ragged.

    So we’re having a slow motion nervous breakdown. We’re in fervid denial. If we just keep angrily asserting our own wonderfulness maybe we can keep the truth from being seen.

  2. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    Why are so many American so insecure that they have to create a world in their own minds wherein America is exceptional in every way?

    I’ll take the question even further: How have Republicans created a paradoxical America, where our nation is the world’s strongest EVAH yet it’s about to crumble because of (Moozlims, teh ghey, Planned Parenthood, etc.)

  3. murray says:

    “Why are so many American so insecure that they have to create a world in their own minds wherein America is exceptional in every way?”

    In some sense you answered the question. The operative word is insecure. I don’t think one can pin point a single reason for this insecurity, but nationalism seems to be, if not the cure, at least the soother. (I am a nobody but at least I am an American.)

    I would note that it isn’t specific to the US. All countries have insecure nationalists, but as several foreign friends have told me, it’s perhaps more striking in the US when compared to the boisterous self confidence of most Americans.

  4. Hey Norm says:

    “…they have to create a world in their own minds…”

    I think you are trying to ascribe a big picture phenomenon in an instance where it doesn’t apply…Romney is simply a pathological liar. I’m not talking about opinions that I may disagree with…I’m talking about claims of fact…like the heart claim…that are verifiably untrue. Romney loves to brag about his stint managing the Olympics…given that experience how could he not know the truth about this?
    Romney somehow manages to make even Sarah Palin look like the honest person her followers fantasize her to be.

  5. The funny thing is when I was growing up, I was always taught that American Exceptionalism was a goal that created duties, rather than a state of being. That is, is we want to be different from the rest of the world, we must as citizens accept burdens that the citizens of other countries would probably not put up with. Not, as most people seem to think today, that we are inherently different from the rest of the world, and this makes us naturally superior and gives us free rein to ignore the rules that everyone else has to live by.

  6. @Hey Norm:

    I think you are trying to ascribe a big picture phenomenon in an instance where it doesn’t apply

    Actually, I think is actually very much indicative of a larger phenomenon. Another example in just the last week: the flap over Ruth Bader Ginsberg and the question of using the US Constitution as a model.

  7. Hey Norm says:

    @ SLT…
    Not to say the phenomenon does not exist…it does…but the Occums Razor answer in this instance is that Romney is simply a liar…and his lies cover a multitude of topics including, but not limited to, American Exceptionalism.

  8. Doubter4444 says:

    @Gold Star for Robot Boy: Exactly, I have the same thought
    the loudest bellowers of American Exceptionalism are the loudest shouters of upcoming the American Armageddon.
    Why are they so afraid?
    I’m pretty centrist and I think the country is strong enough to get through this, that we are not in a existential crisis, that things are messed up but that we’ll get it done.
    I can only think that it’s the bully mentality – Bullies are the biggest pussies, and the most insecure.

    So, we either are going to hell in a handbasket, or not.
    We are either Great, or not.
    At least a logical thought process would be that we were great and are no longer.
    That we need to come back.
    That’s it half time in America!
    But any disparagement like that is jumped on – as witness the Chrysler ad from the weekend and the reaction it got.

  9. Curtis says:

    Americans are the only people to put their hands over their hearts for the Star Spangled Banner. That is the only national anthem that counts. Those others put their hands over their hearts for some other song. But it isn’t the national anthem.

  10. Tillman says:

    Eh, as long as you have a kickass military, you can claim whatever you want. Our friends who observe our lack of exceptionalness nowadays forget we still cover their missile defense costs.

    So we’re deluded! We still have bombs.

  11. Tillman says:

    @Curtis: Yeah, what the hell is with America the Beautiful? Don’t read me wrong, it’s a *cough* beautiful song and moving in its own right. But it’s not the national anthem! Stop singing it everywhere!

    I have this pet theory that people start secretly despising the Star-Spangled Banner once they learn the melody is based on a British drinking song.

  12. Curtis says:

    Well, I was thinking that the Chinese people put their hands over their hearts for the Chinese national anthem. But that is just a national anthem. NOT THE NATIONAL ANTHEM!!! Americans are the only people who put their hands over their hearts FOR THE NATIONAL ANTHEM!!

  13. @Curtis: So, you are arguing that Romney simply is saying that only Americans put their hands over their hearts for the US National Anthem (i.e., the Star Spangled Banner)?

    Isn’t that like saying that only Americans salute the American flag (i.e, the Stars and Stripes)?

  14. MM says:

    @Hey Norm: Romney lies a lot, but he lies because he believes that they will help him gain support. There’s a calculation there that saying Americans are the only people to put their hands on their hearts will get him support from those people who not only believe that Americans are exceptional, but require it to be proven in increasingly ridiculous or trivial ways.

  15. MarkedMan says:

    You know, it is a truism in America (and many other fine places around the world, thank you very much) that if you’ve really got the skills you don’t need to be strutting around thumping your test. I would take it a step farther and say that it’s a truism that if you are strutting it indicates you don’t really have those skills at all. So, given that probably 90% of Americans would accept the above as given, why the heck is being a loudmouth jerk such a political advantage?

  16. Curtis says:

    Basically, I just suck at satire.

    To the people Romney is hoping to convince with this nonsense, anytime you see a foreigner with his hand over his heart, that is just some clanging in the backround, not the national anthem.

    Because, you see, the anthem is part of what makes America exceptional!

  17. gVOR08 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: @Curtis: We gotta invent a snark font for the intertubes.