(Feb. 22) U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) may not officially be running for president (yet), but his speech in Iowa this afternoon featured some of the best rhetoric and substance of any presidential candidate in years.

Scott’s unique biography provided a framework for the whole speech, an approach that in lesser hands could devolve into mere identity-politics grandstanding. Not here, though. Here, Scott used his childhood — black, relatively poor, a failure (for a while) in school — not as a celebration of self but as both an ode to America and as a touchstone for individual policy choices within a holistic philosophical vision.

Scott’s point was not that he is special for overcoming hurdles but that this nation is great because it creates such tremendous opportunities for anyone to rise above his roots.

“I am living proof,” Scott said, “that our Founders were geniuses who should be celebrated, not canceled. That we’re a land of opportunity, not a land of oppression. This is just my American story. Each of you and your families have your own.”

The rhetoric, meanwhile, featured classic cadences and old-style wordplay: “My family chose faith over anger, responsibility over resentment, and patriotism over pity. My granddaddy taught me I could be bitter or better, but not both. My momma said we could be victims or victors — she chose victorious!”

Again, though, Scott quickly and appropriately moved on from his family’s framework to a litany of policy errors he ascribed to President Joe Biden and the Democrats. He presented all those errors within the useful device of “pretend[ing] you were our nation’s greatest enemy” needing “a blueprint to ruin America.” All the things he correctly identified as coming from Biden’s leftism were part of that misguided blueprint:

“First, you’d take aim at our patriotism” by promoting “attention-seekers who say America is an evil country.” And you would teach kids that “the color of their skin defined them. … Tell white kids they’re oppressors. Tell black and brown kids their destiny is grievance, not greatness.”….

[The full column is at this link.]


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