TOO SUBTLE?…. No sooner do we talk about President Obama’s emphasis on American exceptionalism than we see Republicans pretend the remarks were never uttered.

Ben Smith noted this morning that House Speaker John Boehner and CNN’s Kathleen Parker talked last night about the phrase they wanted to hear from the president, but didn’t.

PARKER: You know one of the words that I listened out for in his speech last night was the word “exceptional.” … 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 20 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.

PARKER: Why do you think that is?

BOEHNER: I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know if they’re afraid of it, whether they don’t believe it. I don’t know.

CNN inexplicably airing two Republican responses to the State of the Union was ridiculous. This is worse.

I haven’t the foggiest idea what Boehner and Parker are talking about. This has long been one of the more offensive and mind-numbing areas of attack from the right, but Tuesday’s speech should have resolved the issue once and for all. Indeed, more than a few observers noted that Obama embraced American exceptionalism this week even more explicitly than he has in the past.

Honestly, were Boehner and Parker even awake during the speech? If so, they heard Obama talk about the qualities that “set us apart as a nation” and the things we do “better than anyone else.” And his belief that America is “not just a place on a map, but the light to the world” and “the greatest nation on Earth.” And his reminder that “as contentious and frustrating and messy as our democracy can sometimes be, I know there isn’t a person here who would trade places with any other nation on Earth.”

I realize the right isn’t great at subtleties, but how could Boehner and Parker have missed this?

Indeed, Boehner specifically whined that “they” don’t understand that “the country was built on an idea,” a day after Obama explained, “What’s more, 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.”

Greg Sargent added, “What’s amusing about this ongoing assertion from the right is how easily debunked it is, and how casually its proponents simply pretend that the historical record doesn’t exist…. I’m starting to get the sneaking suspicion that these people would prefer that Obama didn’t use such language, and are repeating this claim again and again in hopes of making it so.”

The gang that creates its own reality just doesn’t know when to stop.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.