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American History

I know Alaska only joined the Union recently, so the current Governor of that fine former territory may not know much about the past. It probably gets jumbled in that time when men and dinosaurs roamed the earth hand in paw (or whatever they have), but I digress.

Ronald Reagan did not term America the city on a hill, and neither did anyone using that line since the freaking 17th century! 1630, to be exact.

John Winthrop, he’s one of those pilgrim guys, gave a pretty famous sermon that’s known as City on a Hill, or citty back in the day. I thought Palin might have known about it since it was given in a church, but apparently not. This probably extends to many people and to other areas (like thinking that Dave Matthews wrote All Along the Watchtower or something like that), but that doesn’t make it ok.

Now I may mind when she claims to have the power to rid greed from Wall Street (would love to know how that works, since that’s how it runs, at least according to the movie), or when there’s a claim that the VP needs even more power than Cheney grabbed, but what really gets my goat is when someone attributes one of the most famous declarations in American history to Ronald Reagan. What the hell were they teaching up there in Wasilla? Or maybe that was covered in one of the weeks of her college education when she was skipping from one school to the next?

Willful, prideful ignorance in a politician is shameful. Those traits in one running for national office on a presidential ticket are an embarrassment.


UPDATE: Lee (not me) kindly points out from his trove of Reagan links that Reagan correctly cited Winthrop in his speech. Don’t want anyone to think that I would go so far as to impugn Reagan and his speechwriters.

One other sidenote, full transcript is available at CNN, and Palin makes the rather unique mistake of ascribing the city on a hill view to the rest of the world rather than to America’s own view of its exceptionalism. Not to belabor the point, but Obama does a rather nice job of saying that one of his jobs as President will be to help the world view America as the city on a hill. Believing that is currently the case is just delusional.

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