John McLaughlin on the PBS show bearing his name asked his guests this weekend, "Has America done more to spread peace and prosperity than any other power in human history, yes or no?"
The conservatives on the panel - syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan and the Washington Examiner's Tim Carney - were quick to say "Yes" as their liberal colleagues - Newsweek's Eleanor Clift and the Chicago Tribune's Clarence Page - both equivocated (video follows with transcript and commentary):
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, HOST: Exit question: Has America done more to spread peace and prosperity than any other power in human history, yes or no?
PAT BUCHANAN: Undeniably. It’s the greatest country in history.
ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK: I'm not going to dispute that, but when Obama took office he came after an administration that invaded two Muslim countries, and the Islamic world really did hate us. And he's done some fence-mending, but you've got to get along with the rest of the world, especially when they, there are more of them than there are of us.
TIM CARNEY, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Yes, and we’ve spread it mostly, again, as an example, a shining city.
CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Hey, I'm not going to sit here and deny we're the best. But we make mistakes too. You know, that's what we got to remember. And unfortunately, we too often learn from the previous mistakes how to make the next ones, and I think this is why, this is a time when we need to be more cautious about our involvement with other countries while the world at the same time is looking to us for the leadership.
MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is yes, through freedom, capitalism and global trade. We did it more than anybody.
It's quite telling that McLaughlin and the two conservatives were extremely definite with their affirmatives while Clift and Page needed to qualify their answers.
Isn't that the difference between liberals and conservatives?
The latter have no problem talking about American exceptionalism while the former get all tongue-tied when asked to say something positive about the land they live in.