Kenyan, Greek, Whatever

I’ve been going through George H.W. Bush’s 1988 convention acceptance speech for another project, and came across a couple of fun items.

First, one of the great rhetorical tricks…of course, this was a lot fresher then than it is when they use it now:

But let’s be frank. Things aren’t perfect in this country. There are people who haven’t tasted the fruits of the expansion. I’ve talked to farmers about the bills they can’t pay. I’ve been to the factories that feel the strain of change. I’ve seen the urban children who play amidst the shattered glass and shattered lives. And there are the homeless. And you know, it doesn’t do any good to debate endlessly which policy mistake of the ’70’s is responsible. They’re there. We have to help them.

Got that? It’s 1988, and there are, inexplicably, things still wrong in the nation despite eight years of Ronald Reagan…so which policy mistake of the 1970s was responsible? Cute.

I liked that one a lot, but I’m sure many of you will like this better…I know it’s come up, but I had forgotten how old this one was:

He sees America as another pleasant country on the UN roll call, somewhere between Albania and Zimbabwe. I see America as the leader – a unique nation with a special role in the world.

Yes, it’s now been almost 25 years that Republicans have been throwing that one at Democrats. The cool part of this, of course, is that we have various personality-based explanations of why Barack Obama believes these un-American things…except it turns out that somehow Michael Dukakis wound up supposedly believing the same things despite the absence of Kenyan anti-colonial thinking. Weird, huh?

[Cross-posted at A plain blog about politics]

Jonathan Bernstein

Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist who writes about American politics, especially the presidency, Congress, parties, and elections.