It’s striking, though not surprising, how politicians often decide to harness the bully pulpit when they’re about to relinquish it. Back in December, when a snowstorm postponed an Eagles game, outgoing Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell sounded off about how the U.S. had “become a nation of wusses,” at risk of losing front-runner status. Via the Chicago Tribune comes this story about retiring Mayor Richard Daley, who couches his criticism of U.S. culture in very similar terms. “We have become a country of whiners,” Daley told a lecture hall at Wheaton College, noting that fears about losing front-runner status to the Japanese has given way to similar fears about a nascent China and India. “We should have the confidence that we can compete with people if we all sacrifice a little bit for the common good. And, if we do that, we can compete with any nation.”
Despite the wording, the remarks seem to have different underpinnings. Rendell is fretting about Chinese supremacy, while Daley is bemoaning the sort of cultural anxiety the former Pennsylvania Governor evinces. Our colleague David Von Drehle fleshes out the symptoms of this syndrome in a mag piece this week, noting that we have “the tendency to interpret the gains of other countries as losses for America.” Worth reading.