Obama gives commencement address where students can’t protest

There may be more objectionable lines in the speech, but here is one that begs to be deconstructed:
“In fact, by most measures America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world.”
So.
1. “By most measures”. Therefore, not by all measures. One is interested to know which measures don’t show America as stronger.
2. “America has rarely been stronger”. The key word here is the adverb “rarely”. One can only conclude that America has been stronger at some points in the past. When? This phrase can equally be said “America has been stronger”. Sounds very different, doesn’t it?
3. “relative to the rest of the world”. This is an interesting qualifier. One possible interpretation is that America is now weaker than in the past, but the rest of the world has weakened even more than America, leaving America “strong” “relative to the rest of the world”.
In sum and in fine, America is weaker than in the past, but that’s OK but because the rest of the world is even weaker. By most measures, so by some measures America is not stronger relative to the rest of the world.
Feel secure?

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