America is gone?

At least, that's the only logical interpretation I have to give this characterization of what the country will be if Hillary Clinton is elected president:

Yesterday, before hundreds of union members and their families at a Labor Day picnic in Sioux City, Iowa, Mrs. Clinton suggested one role for her husband should she be elected: repairing the country's reputation in the world after what the Clintons and other critics charge is the damage done during the Bush years.

"The day I'm elected," she said, "I'm going to be asking distinguished Americans -- including my husband -- of both parties, to start traveling around the world, and not just talking to governments and leaders, but talking directly to people and telling them that America is back."

Clearly, she's trying to appeal to the people who want to erase the traumatic memory of 9/11 (and somehow hoping that the first 9/11 attack will be forgotten, along with Khobar Towers, Kenya, Tanzania, and the U.S.S. Cole). I've criticized the TV remote mentality before, but I'm concerned right now with the idea that electing Hillary would bring America "back." I see three premises within the statement:
1. America is not here now;

2. America used to be here -- but only when "we" were in charge;

3. Because my husband is behind me and because we used to be America, electing me is the only way to bring America "back."

Isn't she confusing her identity with that of the country? Isn't that called megalomania?

Maybe, but maybe not. By Hillary's reasoning, there are two Clintons who are synonymous what was once called "America," and I think megalomania is usually supposed to involve one person at a time.

I mean, I've heard of codependency, but I've never heard of a thing called "comegalomania." (There's no such word.)

I don't think she means "One people, one America, one Hillary" and "One people, one America, one Clintons" just doesn't sound linguistically or grammatically correct. And "One people, one America, two Clintons" sounds even more awkward. Divisive, even.

I don't think it's a good thing when politicians confuse or conflate their own identities with the identity of the country. It must be an awful temptation, though, because the president of the United States is in fact the single most powerful person in the world. I'd prefer voting for someone a little more modest and self-effacing than someone who not only believes that his or her (in this case his and her) ego is synonymous with America, but says so.

Some things are best kept in the closet.

UPDATE: Thank you, Glenn Reynolds, for the link, -- especially for the helpful observation that this might just be bad speechwriting. I certainly hope so.

Your opinions are welcome!

UPDATE: My thanks to Dr. Sanity for diagnosing the "comegalomania" problem:

I think the term you are searching for is "folie a deux.

posted by Eric on 09.04.07 at 10:59 AM


I like the cut of her jib.

Joseph Stalin   ·  September 4, 2007 1:07 PM

It's worth noting that it was her husband who signed in some of the worst civil liberties-destroying bills like CALEA that are on the books today. CALEA makes the USA PATRIOT Act look like a joke with the way that it sinks its tentacles into the construction of networks and network devices.

MikeT   ·  September 4, 2007 1:32 PM

Maybe she means the American people will get their silverware back.

Anonymous   ·  September 4, 2007 6:18 PM

Did you know Hillary is fluent in French? Here are her three favorite Francophonic sayings:

L’État, c’est moi. (I am the State.)

Qu'ils mangent de la brioche (Let them eat cake.)

Après moi le Deluge (After me comes the flood.)

MarkJ   ·  September 4, 2007 10:19 PM

She chooses "Don't cry for me, Argentina" as her new campaign theme song and I'm outta' here.


SteveMG   ·  September 4, 2007 11:26 PM

Mrs. Clinton is the greatest American politician of all times. Not.

Angus   ·  September 4, 2007 11:36 PM

Darn it, someone beat me to the song reference... although I was thinking more of 'don't cry for me A-meri-ca'...

Thomas   ·  September 4, 2007 11:52 PM

I think she actually means:

"The America that doesn't care if you blow up our stuff and kill our citizens is back. Yes, the America of the 90's and the 70's that not only negotiates with terrorists, but cowers and cowtows to them is back. The America that, at most, throws a few subpoenas and badly aimed and timed jdam missiles around is back."

twalsh   ·  September 5, 2007 12:12 AM

Impeach Clinton

(I'm an early adopter.)

Lee   ·  September 5, 2007 12:37 AM

"And 'One people, one America, two Clintons' sounds even more awkward. Divisive, even."

How about "Ein Volk, Ein Amerika, Zwei Clinton"? This will demonstrate our commitment to European-style internationalism.

Dave S.   ·  September 5, 2007 12:53 AM

Actually, "One America, two Clintons" has a distinctly Chinese sound to it... hmm...

lewy14   ·  September 5, 2007 3:15 AM

Well, I see that thanks to you, Instapundit and Google...Comegalomania IS now a word.

I hope you are proud......

Sockmuppet   ·  September 5, 2007 4:59 AM

There's some horrible aging-feminist, insufferably preachy, salt-of-the-earth sitcom connotation to the phrase "America is back."

If you write it with an exclamation mark ("America is back!") you picture President Hillary in a kitchen full of wisecracking kids (including the hot tweenie in lowrise jeans), her obese husband making affectionate jokes about the steadily increasing size of her rump, every episode ending with the two of them snuggling in bed, cooing "You're the tops, babe."

I just made myself throw up a little.

Tom W.   ·  September 5, 2007 5:18 AM

In 1994, I put an "IMPEACH HILLARY" bumper sticker on my car. Was I prescient, or what?

Clioman   ·  September 5, 2007 6:19 AM

Hillary uber alles!

More accurate...but scary.

Sean Bannion   ·  September 5, 2007 7:22 AM

Let's recall Bill Clinton lamenting that he couldn't understand how people can say they love their country but hate their government.

Once the Bush administration was in, he seemed to come around to an understanding of the concept.

Bill & Hill: "L'etat, c'est nous."

Brett   ·  September 5, 2007 7:56 AM

There is a similar theme to Al Gore's pronouncements. If you substitute "my political career" for "the earth" in many of his speeches, you get an eerily informative statement - and perhaps a picture of what is really bothering him.

I don't know that this is a specificly Democrat thing - very likely not - but it is reminiscent of Nixon identifying the need for his election with the good of America.

You have just about the best commenters around. They should give blog awards for that category: "Attracts Wittiest Readers."

Assistant Village Idiot   ·  September 5, 2007 8:54 AM

It's funny, really. Ronald Reagan said something very similar in the early 80's, but he meant it in an entirely different way.

There is frankly no understanding exactly what the Clintons mean, except after the fact. Too late!!!!

Last Mohican   ·  September 5, 2007 8:57 AM

Your hostility to the Clintons has led you to the mistake of mischaracterizing a great old Reagan phrase. This is the conservative movement in its essence.

This is Ronald Reagan's phrase, being used by the Dems. They do this all the time. They appropriate things the right has done. It means the America that we knew, the expectations we had for it, is resurgent. True for Republicans in 1980, hopefully not true for Hillary Clinton now. It's a call for enthusiasm and hope regardless of who uses it.

AEA   ·  September 5, 2007 9:39 AM

I mean, I've heard of codependency, but I've never heard of a thing called "comegalomania." (There's no such word.)

I think the term you are searching for is "folie a deux.

Dr. Sanity   ·  September 5, 2007 10:05 AM

The Clinton's have quite unabashedly attempted to adopt Reagan's political style. I have a specific recollection of George Stephanopoulos (pardon the probable misspelling) saying so on one of the Sunday talk shows in 1993 (you know, before he switched from Clinton spokesman to objective analyst).
With Reagan, the style was natural. With Bill, an even better actor than Reagan, the style seemed natural. With Hill, it seems to be what it is - as phony as a fifteen-cent piece.

Jim O'Sullivan   ·  September 5, 2007 10:30 AM

Reagan's "Morning in America" was a new dawn. A new day. That's hardly the same as "America is back."

Dave S.   ·  September 5, 2007 10:51 AM

A short googling brought up a 1984 Reagan campaign brochure. See

We have come a long way. We have new confidence in our leaders, in our institutions and in ourselves, As President Reagan has said, "America is back."

How old are you?

AEA   ·  September 5, 2007 1:21 PM

Aw, heck, Eric -- you're a classicist. That's not just pretty art up there, is it?
And 'One people, one America, two Clintons'is not really a problem, or won't be for more than a few months after Hilary is sworn in.

Does anyone know if Clinton is partial to dishes of mushrooms?


Portia   ·  September 5, 2007 1:28 PM

To me "America is back" sounds vaguely reminiscent (as perhaps it should) of McGovern's "come home America" refrain in his speech accepting the Democratic nomination in 1972. Of course, for McGovern that was just another way of calling for retreat from Vietnam (among other things), but I think that Hillary's "America is back" is simply calling for a return to a pre-9/11 world, as if such a thing were possible.

One of the things that I always wonder about when I hear this Democrat talking point about America being unpopular abroad is whether or not they've been paying any attention to things going on elsewhere in the world. France and Germany have different leaders than they did three years ago, both of whom have a more positive view of the US than their predecessors did. Now while I'll concede that France and Germany don't constitute all their is to "world opinion," I wish more people would have brought up that fact when this Democrat talking point originated.

Kurt   ·  September 5, 2007 5:05 PM

Charles DeGaulle opened his autobiography: "I am France."

Peter Jessen   ·  September 6, 2007 6:55 PM

Defeat, despair, stagflation were our lot in the 1970's. The exhilaration of a comeback was palpable in Reagan's time.
America was back!As the sick man recovers his health we were glad.

Megalomania was no more part of it than McGovern's defeatism or Hillary Clinton's...whatever.

The commenters writing these things ought to consider if there's a mirror image effect going on with them.

AEA   ·  September 7, 2007 1:50 AM

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