On the history of “Take Back Our Country”

posted at 9:21 am on May 27, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

It’s tempting to dismiss Eugene Robinson’s column on race and politics as sheer nonsense, but it’s not entirely without wisdom. Even its wisdom tends to undermine Robinson’s point as a whole, however, and his lack of research into recent history demolishes his overall argument.  Let’s start with what Robinson gets right:

In general, I try to focus on what a person does or says rather than speculate on what he or she “is.” How can I really know what’s in another person’s heart?

That is the essence of the charitable approach to politics — to address one’s arguments and to presume that they are made in good faith. Unfortunately, Robinson spends most of his column defending Jay Rockefeller, who did exactly the opposite of what Robinson prescribes for everyone else. Instead of addressing the issues surrounding ObamaCare, Rockefeller accused opponents of being motivated by Obama’s skin color. Robinson ends up defending Rockefeller by claiming that Rockefeller didn’t accuse anyone specifically of being racist:

When Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) remarked last week that some of the opposition to President Obama’s Affordable Care Act is “maybe he’s of the wrong color,” he was just saying out loud what many people believe. And no, he wasn’t calling Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) a “racist.”

Believing that some of the Republican and tea party opposition to Obama has to do with his race is not, I repeat not, the same as saying that anyone who disagrees with the nation’s first black president is racist.

It’s worth noting, and Robinson ignores, that this was in the middle of a debate about ObamaCare — and Johnson was the only Republican on the panel at that time. Robinson twists himself in knots trying to eat his cake and have it too. He’s essentially arguing that he can determine group guilt but wants to refrain from determining individual guilt because he can’t see into individual hearts — as if diving the nature of thousands or millions of hearts is made easier in bulk.

Robinson then goes on to prove his error by applying this axiom:

I’m reminded of a tea party rally at the Capitol four years ago when Congress was about to pass the Affordable Care Act. I can’t say that the demonstrators who hissed and spat at members of the Congressional Black Caucus were racists — but I saw them committing racist acts. I can’t say that the people holding “Take Back Our Country” signs were racists — but I know this rallying cry arose after the first African American family moved into the White House.

This argument only proves that the Washington Post really should either provide Nexis access to its columnists or get better editors for its opinion section. Byron York takes Robinson to the woodshed over this claim:

In the 2004 race, Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry sometimes asked supporters to help him “take back our country.” “It’s time to take back our country,” Kerry declared at a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire in late October. When Kerry called Sen. John Edwards to invite him onto the Democratic ticket, aides revealed that Kerry’s words to Edwards were, “John, Teresa and I would like to ask you and Elizabeth to join us on our ticket to take back our country.”

Early Democratic frontrunner Howard Dean used the phrase “take back our country” too many times to count. In fact, Dean wrote a campaign book titled “You Have the Power: How to Take Back Our Country and Restore Democracy in America.”

Former Vice President Al Gore said it, too. “We need to take back our country,” Gore declared in endorsing Dean in January 2004.

At a Democratic fundraiser in December 2003, Sen. Hillary Clinton pledged to work “on behalf of a campaign to take back our country.” After the election, in 2005, Clinton declared that, “We are ready to go forth and fight to take back our country.”

From the podium of the Democratic National Convention in July 2004, Rep. Louise Slaughter declared, “We will take back our country.” Also at the convention, Sen. Debbie Stabenow said, “We’re here to take back our country.” And Los Angeles leader Antonio Villaraigosa, chair of the party platform committee, declared, “We Democrats have come to this convention…to take back our country!”

And it didn’t stop with the 2004 campaign. Hillary Clinton used “take back our country” countless times in her 2008 presidential race. And when Clinton finally conceded defeat and endorsed Barack Obama, she said, with Obama right next to her, that, “We are not going to rest until we take back our country.”

This has been standard political rhetoric for at least as long as I’ve followed politics. Without a doubt, the slogan represents many different motivations, but that’s as true of “Take Back Our Country” as “Support the Troops.” Robinson either just started following politics in 2009, or has his own reasons for skipping research and ignoring the avalanche of evidence that eminently disproves his point.

What are those reasons? Well, I can’t see into Robinson’s heart, but perhaps Robinson will explain them in his next column. Perhaps he can headline it, “Hope and Change.”


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I can’t say that the demonstrators who hissed and spat at members of the Congressional Black Caucus were racists

There’s still 100k in fresh cabbage waiting for the first person to provide some actual proof of said spitting, yours for the taking, Eugene.

Bishop on May 27, 2014 at 9:27 AM

Eugene. Supper?

Bmore on May 27, 2014 at 9:27 AM

Yeah but ‘Take Back Our Country’ was a legitimate expression of dissent after Bu$hitler and Co. stole the 2000 election with the help of Diebold, the Koch Brothers, Richard Mellon Scaife, and Faux News. When used in context of President St. Barack Hussein Obama it’s a pure racist dogwhistle.

/AutomatedLibResponse

JimLennon on May 27, 2014 at 9:31 AM

Eugene Robinson?

Who cares?

FOWG1 on May 27, 2014 at 9:31 AM

I’ve been saying this for a long time.
Look at Howard Dean’s “Heyyyaahhhh!” video.
Big BIG letters behind him: LET’S TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK!

Glenn Jericho on May 27, 2014 at 9:32 AM

I detest the term ‘take back out country’ to the nth degree. Take it back from who? Politicians?

weedisgood on May 27, 2014 at 9:36 AM

take back our country*

weedisgood on May 27, 2014 at 9:36 AM

…as if diving the nature of thousands or millions of hearts is made easier in bulk.

Do you mean “… divining the nature …”?

dissent555 on May 27, 2014 at 9:39 AM

When leftists have claimed that they wanted to “take back our country”, they meant that they wanted to “fundamentally deform our country”. It’s just the typical leftist lie, as when Barky and his gang of America-hating retards called Tea Partiers “anti-American” … as if.

The call to “take back our country” is the reasonable and logical response to having had our country taken from us and fundamentally deformed (killed, actually, under Barky and his junta – along with important assists from Benedict Roberts and the cowardly douchebags in the Vichy GOP).

Sadly, this country has been so fundamentally deformed and changed that it cannot be “taken back”. The feral government has been allowed to go so totally out of control and act so arbitrarily and illegally as to destroy any sense that trust could ever, again, exist within this framework – which was so blithely tossed aside in order for the third world, dog-eating retard to be allowed to live out his Sukarno fantasy. There can be no fixing this nation. The only way for an American Constitutional Republic to exist again is for it to be re-created anew.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on May 27, 2014 at 9:40 AM

Whoever made the decision that it was the Democrats Country in the first place? This is OUR Country. Right or Left, rich or poor, black or white. It is not a solely Democrat Country.

Sabercat2 on May 27, 2014 at 9:40 AM

I wonder what Cliven Bundy would make of Eugene Robinson’s defense of Jay Rockefeller?

oscarwilde on May 27, 2014 at 9:42 AM

MJ let him get away with this crapola this am

cmsinaz on May 27, 2014 at 9:47 AM

Mr. Robinson proves time and time again that he is just not too bright. But he’s writing for a WaPo audience that is intellectually on par with him, so I guess he keeps his job.

NOMOBO on May 27, 2014 at 9:50 AM

The liberals destroyed “our country” by opening the doors to massive 3rd world welfare case immigration. Norman Rockwell is spinning in his grave.

Whitey Ford on May 27, 2014 at 9:51 AM

Johnson is your normal Prog who accuses without ‘accusing’, creating artificial crises (Anthropogenic Global Warming, et al), straw man arguments, dog whistles, sees raaacism in every Conservative statement, squirrel sightings everywhere – anything to keep the Sheeples’ minds off of the direction The One is taking the country.

vnvet on May 27, 2014 at 9:51 AM

What they vote for and what they support are a good indication where their hearts are….killing babies in the womb…nuff said….

crosshugger on May 27, 2014 at 9:55 AM

The late, great Andrew Breitbart disproved that pernicious ‘spitting and name-calling’ accusation, and offered a large reward if anyone could prove it actually happened. Insofar as I know, no one ever collected.

Those black legislators, the ones claiming they were cursed and spat upon, lied. And so is Robinson, who says he personally witnessed ‘racist acts’ committed by Tea Partiers. He may have dreamed he saw such things and–in an act of fantasy wish fulfillment–convinced himself his dreams were real, but no, they’re not.

troyriser_gopftw on May 27, 2014 at 9:56 AM

Boy who cried wolf syndrome. There are so many errors in Robinsons article that I have to wonder if he is given a pass because of his skin color. No one spat on anyone that is a fact. How do I know this? Andrew Breitbart offered a sizable reward to anyone who could prove it and no one came forward. Also its a fact that not only did no Repub vote for Obamacare but Repubs were completely shut out of the process. To say Rockefeller was being honest is to admit that you are a racist. Something we’ve known about Robinson for years.

neyney on May 27, 2014 at 9:57 AM

Robinson either just started following politics in 2009

For Obamabots, history began on 20 January 2009.

Resist We Much on May 27, 2014 at 9:59 AM

Robinson twists himself in knots trying to eat his cake and have it too.

  #MartinetMemo   Thank you for putting the eating and having in the right order. So many people say “have his cake and eat it too”, which isn’t unreasonable at all. Isn’t the entire point of having cake to eat it (or sell it to someone else who wants to eat it)?

He’s essentially arguing that he can determine group guilt but wants to refrain from determining individual guilt because he can’t see into individual hearts — as if diving the nature of thousands or millions of hearts is made easier in bulk.

This is actually at the core of statist thinking. There are things that are unthinkable for individuals to do to each other, but when organized interest groups of voters conspire to do them wholesale instead of retail under the imprimatur of government, they become noble undertakings.

And when you think about it, isn’t the whole business of “group guilt” pretty much “prejudice” by definition? If someone is mugged by a black man, and from that moment on presumptively considers all blacks violent criminals, don’t we call that out as racist? How, then, can this be any different?

The Monster on May 27, 2014 at 10:03 AM

After Barack gets through with this country, nobody will want to take it back!!

Deano1952 on May 27, 2014 at 10:06 AM

What are those reasons? Well, I can’t see into Robinson’s heart, but perhaps Robinson will explain them in his next column. Perhaps he can headline it, “Hope and Change.”

I’ll call it. Robinson is a racist, always has been. Skin color matters to Robinson and he’ll defend the rat-eared wonder to the death due to pigmentation and not ability. He even brings up the CBC lies that somebody was spitting and hissing at them during that staged “march” to pass Obamacare designed to evoke memories of the civil rights marches.

But I’ll let Robinson off the hook as a racist if he can point to one individual and prove that the only opposition to Obamacare is due to the fact that a lazy stupid mixed race agitator is in the White House.

Happy Nomad on May 27, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Robinsons ‘writing’ is laser focused on all those poor black men being held back by evil whitey… every single time! I think his computer can write the columns FOR him at this point.
He used to come on Meet the Press when it was run by a real host, and he’s far more reasonable and intelligent that he writes, in person. If he were a white man and his discussion was flipped, he would be considered a terrible racist by the media.

Tard on May 27, 2014 at 10:38 AM

Robinson ends up defending Rockefeller by claiming that Rockefeller didn’t accuse anyone specifically of being racist:

Wrong. Rockefeller called me a racist. Robinson defending him proves that neither of them are any better than Donald Sterling. At least Rockefeller is retiring, and I have no problem kicking Donald out of the NBA, but I also demand Robinson lose his column. Eugene Robinson is a racist.

rbj on May 27, 2014 at 10:47 AM

I detest the term ‘take back out country’ to the nth degree. Take it back from who? Politicians?

weedisgood on May 27, 2014 at 9:36 AM

It’s only cool to say that when we have a Republican president in office.

slickwillie2001 on May 27, 2014 at 11:28 AM

98% of the black political pundits/journalists/media figures on the left are, in fact, quite racist. I judge them on their actions and words.

Personally, I blame Nanzi and Reid far more than our fist black president for the destruction of our health care system. I don’t think Obama had much to do with writing the tax bill. Obama merely went out and lied to all of us on what the health care tax and death bill would not do and what it would do.

jukin3 on May 27, 2014 at 11:33 AM

It’s tempting to dismiss Eugene Robinson’s column on race and politics as sheer nonsense, but it’s not entirely without wisdom.

I presume by “wisdom,” you mean “conventional wisdom.” Nobody embodies the conventional wisdom quite like Eugene Robinson.

I suppose I should read the linked article, but I’ve never found any article by Eugene Robinsons to be worth reading before, and I doubt that will change now.

There Goes the Neighborhood on May 27, 2014 at 11:44 AM

Robinson is an Obama ass-kisser. Period.

GarandFan on May 27, 2014 at 11:52 AM

The simple fact is that Eugene Robinson isn’t very bright.

tkmcp on May 27, 2014 at 12:21 PM

It’s the same guy who coined “Take back Joe Piscopo.”

It’s from a Richard Petty reggae classic, “Jammin’.”

Christien on May 27, 2014 at 12:46 PM

That is the essence of the charitable approach to politics — to address one’s arguments and to presume that they are made in good faith. Unfortunately, Robinson spends most of his column defending Jay Rockefeller, who did exactly the opposite of what Robinson prescribes for everyone else.

Because Robinson’s a f*cking liar to start off with – he’s *never* actually done what he says he tries to do in terms of prejudging someone’s intent.

Midas on May 27, 2014 at 1:09 PM

Yeah, but racist.

Midas on May 27, 2014 at 1:13 PM

It’s the same guy who coined “Take back Joe Piscopo.”

It’s from a Richard Petty reggae classic, “Jammin’.”

Christien on May 27, 2014 at 12:46 PM

LOL

Midas on May 27, 2014 at 1:14 PM

It’s tempting to dismiss Eugene Robinson’s column on race and politics as sheer nonsense, but it’s not entirely without wisdom.

Yes it is, Ed, just as everything Eugene spews forth is.

Hell, just as anything the left spews forth in their desperate attempts to rewrite history as it happens, redefine the concept of truth, and basically take a giant Stanley Steamer all over the Constitution, all while telling the rest of us to just shut the f*ck up and take it like the racist troglodtyes we are.

That said, you’re a most charitable fellow, Ed, but I stopped reading Eugene’s horseh*t right around the same time my best friend of almost 20 years called me a racist and blocked me on Facebook.

Screw these people. They’re deliberately obtuse sociopaths. The science is settled.

Eric in Hollywood on May 27, 2014 at 1:25 PM

The simple fact is that Eugene Robinson isn’t very bright.

tkmcp on May 27, 2014 at 12:21 PM

Sad but true, he’s a token.

slickwillie2001 on May 27, 2014 at 1:39 PM

He doesn’t care if anyone really spat. Says much about his character.

CW on May 27, 2014 at 2:01 PM

Is he now claiming to have been present and to have seen the spitting going on by members of a tea party rally 4 years ago? Why hasn’t he come forward sooner to collect the reward? Eugene, thinking and wishing something is so, doesn’t make it so.

Kissmygrits on May 27, 2014 at 6:25 PM

And when you think about it, isn’t the whole business of “group guilt” pretty much “prejudice” by definition? If someone is mugged by a black man, and from that moment on presumptively considers all blacks violent criminals, don’t we call that out as racist? How, then, can this be any different?

The Monster on May 27, 2014 at 10:03 AM

Indeed.

AesopFan on May 27, 2014 at 8:19 PM

The geniuses who voted for this nonsense never asked the obvious question. They simple assumed the answer; and we all know about the ass-u-me cliche’.

Nobody asked, “If we take the country back, for whom exactly are we performing this service?” Voters ass-u-me-d that it was for the voters. But, no, it is ALWAYS taken back FOR the politicians using it as a rallying cry.

It is time we ask politicians to nail this down and apply some persuasion when they prove their answers were facile lies. Otherwise we’ll find ourselves subjects to a tyrant having to try to take back our country for our benefit and control.

It seems well more than 50 percent of this country are too poorly equipped mentally and educationally to ask that simple question rather than get carried away on emotions. Our educational system is wretched. But, then, most of you guys already know that. Maybe we need to take back our schools preparatory to taking back our country, for you and I in both cases.

{^_^}

herself on May 28, 2014 at 6:16 AM