Not the America I know

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"Trump Jr. Says Obama Lifted Phrase From His RNC Speech", NBC News 7/28/2016:

Donald Trump Jr. suggested Thursday that Barack Obama's speech in Philadelphia Wednesday night lifted a line from his Republican National Convention remarks, pointing out that both addresses contained the line "That's not the America I know."

But as I pointed out in a post back in July of 2004), George W. Bush used the phrase "That is not the America I know" at least six times in 2001-2002.

The Congressional Record for 1976 apparently includes this passage:

If that is America, that is not the America I know. It is not the way I have been brought up. It is not what that flag means to me. It is not what the Senate of the United States means to me.

Kofi Annan used the phrase "this is not the America I know" in 2000:

A letter to the Atlanta Journal Constitution in 2006 included this passage:

What kind of country begs people to come here to work, then denies their children access to basic health care? That is not the America I know.

Hillary Clinton used the phrase in a debate with Barack Obama in Austin TX in 2008:

Asked about federal immigration raids on homes and businesses, Clinton blasted raids that she said have left children and babies with no one to take care of them: "That is not the America I know. That is against American values."

Barack Obama used the same phrase in a 2010 speech:

Cleveland, that is not the America I know. That is not the America we believe in.

And Rick Perry used the phrase in 2012 :

"For way too long the system has been gamed," Mr. Perry said. "It's been gamed from Wall Street to K Street. Big banks get bailed out and small businesses get shut down. That's not the America I know. We're better than that."

and in 2015:

A president who boldly claimed it was his goal to rid the world of nuclear weapons will have a legacy of nuclear proliferation. All because he places his trust in a regime that is the leading sponsor of state terrorism, in the word of radicals, in inspections that can be easily manipulated.  My friends, this is not the America I know.

I'm sure that a more thorough search will turn up dozens of other examples, and thousands of examples of "this|that|it is not the X I know", where X has some value other than America –– for example, this from a 1971 sermon:

"That be far from Thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked. That be far from thee." "Lord," Abraham said, "you said you are going to destroy Sodom. That is not like you. That is not the God I know. That be far from you to slay the righteous with the wicked."

Or this from 2003:

The images we just viewed nearly made me cry. This is not the Australia I know. This is not the Australia that I've been brought up in. I am so disgusted and angry and disappointed for my fellow Australians to be behaving and acting like this.

Or this from 2005:

LDS doctrine teaches that there are sins for which the blood of Christ cannot atone.  That is not the Jesus of the Bible.  That is not the Jesus I know.

Or this song from 2008:

You have got to move on
This is not the you I know
This isn't real
It's just all you can feel
And that's the way that feelings go

Or this from 2011:

The Oscar I know is not the Oscar in fishnet stockings, I'm sorry — and it will never be. And the same with Floyd. That is not the person I know.

Or this from 2012:

[W]e also see the growth of a narrow, pessimistic English nationalism that does not represent the best of our nation; one that is hostile to the rest of Britain and the world. That is not the England I know. Patriotism is not necessarily claiming we are the best. It is about recognising and celebrating who we are.

Or this, also from 2012:

So all I would say is that when you read about it in the  paper from an anonymous source, it is very difficult for us to  investigate that type of an allegation. I would say, again, we  would like to know who, when, where, and why, and the names of  people, as well as who these people are who are condoning it.  And I will just tell you, sir, that is not the organization I  know that we would condone such behavior.

As I pointed out in 2004, "this|that|it is not the X I know" is (an especially short example) of a what we've called a snowclone, namely a sort of meme-ified cliché.

Do you think that Donald J. Trump Jr. really believes that he invented the phrase, or is he just trolling?

Update — NBC News and the Washington Post find a number of other examples, back to "a top official in the Drug Enforcement Administration, David Westrate, who said at a National Press Club speech in 1989: 'My conclusion from that is that that really was not the America that I know.'"


  1. David Marjanović said,

    July 28, 2016 @ 4:40 pm

    Also, "make America great again" is from Reagan. It is mourning again in America!

  2. David Marjanović said,

    July 28, 2016 @ 4:40 pm

    (…That isn't original to me either, but I won't try to look up the source now.)

  3. Chris C. said,

    July 28, 2016 @ 5:08 pm

    Do you think that Donald J. Trump Jr. really believes that he invented the phrase, or is he just trolling?

    Bullshitting more likely, in the strict Frankfurtian sense.

  4. J.W. Brewer said,

    July 28, 2016 @ 5:17 pm

    FWIW the 1976 Congressional Record cite (looking at another publication of it but subject to the limitations of snippet view) may have been from the mouth of Sen. John Pastore (D.-R.I.). He would have been almost 70 years old at the time, so not necessarily someone you'd expect to be innovating catchy new expressions.

  5. chris said,

    July 28, 2016 @ 6:13 pm

    It is mourning again in America!

    Not sure if intentional… Reagan's slogan was _morning_ in America, which is quite different.

  6. Chris Waigl said,

    July 28, 2016 @ 6:35 pm

    I'm sure he is looking for a dig, but seriously, the way his class of people understand education, I doubt he would be able to coherently discuss the difference between a cliché, a figure of speech, a metaphor, a quote, and plagiarism, say.

  7. JPL said,

    July 28, 2016 @ 7:57 pm

    That he would even try such a gambit demonstrates his complete idiocy.

  8. Ray said,

    July 28, 2016 @ 8:22 pm

    basically, the trump camp uses trolling as their m.o., while the hillary camp uses virtue signalling. interesting how the innerwebs (specifically, social media) are shaping — mediating — political discourse.

  9. Sandwichman said,

    July 28, 2016 @ 11:02 pm

    Believe me. I used the phrase believe me before Trump ever did. He is plagiarizing me. Also, "Yuge!" I said that when I was two.

  10. Cam Virgola said,

    July 29, 2016 @ 6:59 am

    As well as being a snowclone, it's six words long, and identical strings that length may appear by chance.
    The matches between the speeches of MT and MO are too long to have appeared by chance. That's the difference.

  11. Charles Antaki said,

    July 29, 2016 @ 7:09 am

    It is mourning again in America!

    Not sure if intentional… Reagan's slogan was _morning_ in America, which is quite different.

    The meta-levels of irony are starting to befuddle me. Is this a fake Pooterism? Or a real one? Or a real one masquerading as, and ironising, a fake one?

  12. cs said,

    July 29, 2016 @ 7:44 am

    I guess you could call it trolling. He is trying to imply (for the benefit of people who aren't paying close enough attention) that the Melania plagiarism accusation was overblown.

  13. S. Norman said,

    July 29, 2016 @ 9:01 am

  14. S. Norman said,

    July 29, 2016 @ 9:04 am

    Or he's trying to pass it off as a troll attempt

  15. mira said,

    July 29, 2016 @ 9:28 am

    Isn't "Where's the outrage" plagiarized from Bob Dole?

    (myl) Dole famously used the phrase in 1996. But the same phrase was used in a NYTimes Magazine article in 1990:

    "This is the place where the wheels came off the wagon of Western civilization," he told me. "This town has become unlivable. What I want to know is, where's the outrage? There is no outrage here. "You'd think there would be an outcry, or at least some sympathy for the victim. Detroit is as helpless and hopeless a place as any in America."

    And I'm sure there are earlier examples as well.]

  16. GeorgeW said,

    July 29, 2016 @ 3:08 pm

    "mourning again in America!"

    Potentially January 20, 2017.

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