Feature

Measuring Barack Obama’s patriotism

Is telling Americans to do better unpatriotic?

What happenedDemocrat Barack Obama gave a speech Monday defending his patriotism, which polls say some voters question. The skepticism has been fueled by false assertions online, including the charge that Obama refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance. “Throughout my life, I have always taken my deep and abiding love for this country as a given,” Obama said. (The Washington Post)

What the commentators saidIt’s hard to take Obama seriously when he calls America “the greatest country on Earth,” said John Hinderaker in the blog Power Line. If he really believes that, how did Jeremiah “God damn America” Wright come to be his spiritual adviser for 20 years? It doesn’t really matter, though, because the media “swooned” over Obama’s pretty words as usual.

Barack Obama doesn’t just talk about patriotism, said Stanley Crouch in the New York Daily News. He’s redefining it, by making it clear that he “embraces all of the tragic elements of American history instead of pretending that they are either exaggerated or no more than radical distortions.” Conservatives are just mad because he has “snatched the flag from them and is waving it in a new way.”

Sorry, but Obama really does have a patriotism problem, said Jonah Goldberg in USA Today, and it has nothing to do with his refusal to wear a flag lapel pin. His campaign is based on “the notion that what America needs is a redeemer figure to ‘remake’ America from scratch.” The suggestion that America is not already “fundamentally good as it is” sure sounds unpatriotic to a lot of voters.

What’s unpatriotic about telling Americans they can do better? said Marty Peretz in The New Republic’s The Spine blog. In the context of “a reproach to the Republican opposition which makes it a habit to question the patriotism of others,” Obama reproached the left-wing for burning flags in the 1960s and failing to honor returning Vietnam veterans. It takes guts to tell off your own supporters like that.

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