The Magazine

The Candidates and Their Cliches

Let's go to the core of who they are as Democrats.

Oct 6, 2003, Vol. 9, No. 04 • By ANDREW FERGUSON
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It is a puzzling trope, a hiccup that's hard to figure. During the debate it erupted almost 30 times, and in every sentence in which it was used, it was obviously dispensable. Surely the Democratic candidates know that we know that when they say, "We need to go right at the jobs problem," they're not talking about the jobs problem in, say, Monaco. (Is there a jobs problem in Monaco?) And this particular case of the hiccups strikes liberal Democrats more than anyone else. The unanswerable question is why. Perhaps it's a holdover from their more radical past, when, as I well recall, the phrase was used just as often as it is today, but always dripping with disdain: in this country of yours that everybody thinks is so great. . . . Nowadays, of course, the anti-American disdain is gone. The verbal reflex remains. It must be a hard habit to break. But this reporter has this request: Try.

Andrew Ferguson is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and a columnist for Bloomberg News.