Noemie Emery of the Weekly Standard responds to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s much-criticized comment that America “was never that great.”

Greatness, alas, eludes Andrew Cuomo, the misspoken son of an eloquent father who axed any chance of his own elevation with a few very ill-chosen words. His mistake was confusing perfection with greatness, as perfection itself is an impossibility, bound to appear at that mythical moment when each and every unique individual has the same equal chance at advancement, and gets precisely the fate he deserves. This will never occur, as no country on earth will ever be perfect, but this doesn’t mean greatness is lost. Greatness consists of the pursuit of perfection, of steps being made in the proper direction, and it happens to be that a very large share of those steps taken were done by Americans, on American soil, or by the force of American arms. None of these solved all the problems completely, but all served as links in the chain.

Greatness was at the rude bridge that arched the flood, at Philadelphia where the Declaration was drafted; at Philadelphia, where the Constitution was drafted; at Truro Synagogue in the state of Rhode Island, where President George Washington went to assure the parishioners that this was one country with no state religion and no religious test to be president; when abolitionists refused to permit the expansion of slavery, at Little Round Top and battlefields like it; at the invasion of Normandy, which liberated a continent; with the civil rights movement, which finally did what the Civil War couldn’t; and at South Carolina in 2016, when the Confederate flag was removed from the grounds of the capital by the state’s female governor, who was the daughter of Indian immigrants, with descendants of Strom Thurmond and Jefferson Davis cheering her on.