What happened
Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama proposed an expanded national service plan Wednesday on a campaign swing focused on confronting critics who have questioned his partiotism. (Los Angeles Times) John McCain, who this week deflected disparaging comments about his war record, has also encouraged Americans to enter public service. (NPR.org)

What the commentators said
Can we drop "the silly argument" over which candidate loves America more? said John Malshek in U.S. News & World Report online. Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, an Obama supporter, did his candidate no favors by saying that McCain’s time as a Vietnam-era POW didn’t add to his presidential qualifications. But Obama has praised McCain’s patriotism, so the least McCain could do is return the favor.

You know things have gotten out of hand when people start mocking McCain’s record of service, said Leonard Pitts in The Miami Herald. But that’s exactly what John Aravosis, who blogs on Americablog.com, did when he accused McCain for “disloyalty” because his captors forced him to read a propaganda statement. There’s something “viscerally wrong” about demeaning somebody’s sacrifice and service for political gain.

Bashing your opponent’s patriotism has long been as common as sparklers on the Fourth of July, said The Christian Science Monitor in an editorial. The fact is that both McCain and Obama love this country, but they embody competing strains of patriotism. McCain “tries to unite people around greatness and sacrifice,” and Obama “extols a society that still falls short to improve itself.”