Michelle Obama's Pride--Stuntz
A lot of ink has been spilled on Michelle Obama’s comment that “for the first time in my life, I am really proud of my country.” I’m a McCain man myself, but the criticism seems dumb to me. She isn’t running for office, and she’s entitled to feel what she feels and express it as she chooses, as long as she doesn’t insult anyone else along the way – as she manifestly didn’t. Her comments are part of (and an exceptionally mild instance of) a long tradition of moral self-criticism that may be Americans’ greatest attribute. In the mid-1850s, at the height of Know-Nothingism, Abraham Lincoln wrote more caustically about his country’s history and character than any candidate or candidate’s spouse would dream of writing or speaking today:
"Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it, ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read, ‘all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics.’ When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty – to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy."