How to Be a Great American

More

by Conor Friedersdorf

Joe's story is the iconic American tale. He's a patriot who became instantly famous for simply asking a question that millions of us wanted asked. As my friend Sean Hannity would say, Joe is a great American! -- Mike Gallagher, Syndicated Talk Radio

Yes, "Joe" the "Plumber" has "written" a book. What strikes me about that promotional blurb, taken from its Amazon page, is what it implies about our national standards: these days, it is apparently instant fame that confers status as an iconic American. In order to be "a great American," one need no longer distinguish oneself by achievements in commerce, science or the arts, nor display valor on the battlefield, nor serve fellow citizens as an exceptional leader.

On the populist right, asking a question is now a sufficient achievement to be a great American. And the unironic metric for measuring a good question? How successfully it spreads in the 24 hour news cycle. It is disconcerting that Mike Gallagher's blurb was chosen due to a belief that it would make the book appealing to the widest possible audience on the right. My faith in the conservative base's ability to elevate credible leaders wanes daily.

Jump to comments

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Time JFK Called the Air Force to Complain About a 'Silly Bastard'

51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down