America, By Jingo

Rich Lowry had a nine paragraph column on New Year’s Eve that can really be summed up in two sentences:

Our greatness is simply a fact. Only the churlish or malevolent can deny it, or even get irked at its assertion.

Or, as DougJ at Balloon Juice put it, America Fuck Yeah.

I’ve really got to wonder what the purpose of stuff like this is. The GOP has been obsessed in recent years with the idea of national “greatness” and conservatives are quick to condemn and political leader who doesn’t make the appropriate statement about how the United States of America is the greatest country ever. It all strikes me as rather silly schoolyard boosterism. It doesn’t inform policy decisions, and it tends to lead to the rather dangerous idea of “My country, right or wrong.”

This is what passes for political insight from the right these days, apparently.

Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. sam says:

    Rich is still suffering the after-affects of all those starbursts going off in the limited confines of his skull.

  2. Ernieyeball says:

    I learned of Carl Schurz when I was in college in the ‘60s. One of my roommates had attended Shurz HS in Chicago. The “right or wrong” slogan was parroted by many in favor of the US war in Vietnam. I suspect they did not know the context of the quote.
    Schurz was a Senator from Missouri. He opposed the Spanish American War.
    At an Anti-Imperalistic Conference in Chicago Oct. 17, 1899 he stated: “I confidently trust that the American people will prove themselves…too wise not to detect the false pride or the dangerous ambitions or the selfish schemes which so often hide themselves under the deceptive cry of mock patriotism: ‘ Our country right or wrong!’ They will not fail to recognize that our dignity, our free institutions and the peace and welfare of this and coming generations of Americans will be secure only as we cling to the watchword of true patriotism: ‘Our country-when right to be kept right, when wrong to be put right.’ “
    In Feb., 1872 Senator Schurz said “My country, and my country is the great American Republic. My country right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong to be set right.”

  3. Alex Knapp says:

    Ernieyeball, Schurz appears to be alluding to a famous quote of John Quincy Adams:

    I can never join with my voice in the toast which I see in the papers attributed to one of our gallant naval heroes. I cannot ask of heaven success, even for my country, in a cause where she should be in the wrong. Fiat justitia, pereat coelum. My toast would be, may our country always be successful, but whether successful or otherwise, always right.

    The “toast” referred to is “My Country, Right or Wrong!”

  4. Brett says:

    It strikes me as a kind of thin-skinned, defensive insecurity. They have to constantly reassure others (and themselves) that America is The Greatest, because they don’t wholly believe it themselves, and they’re stung by criticism from other sectors.

  5. Ernieyeball says:

    The 1872 quote from Shurz starts “The Senator from Wisconsin cannot frighten me by exclaiming “My country, right or wrong.”
    I am still trying to find out who that cheesehead was.
    I have found other versions.
    One from Stephen Decatur (a toast at a dinner in Norfolk, VA, April 1816 per “Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations, may she always be in the right, but our country right or wrong.”
    This from G.K. Chesterton: “My country, right or wrong,” is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, “My mother, drunk or sober.”