Tuesday, July 01, 2008


From The Washington Post:

INDEPENDENCE, Mo., June 30 -- Dogged by persistent rumors questioning his belief in country, Sen. Barack Obama journeyed to Middle America on Monday to lay out his vision of patriotism, conceding that he has learned in this presidential campaign that "the question of who is -- or is not -- a patriot all too often poisons our political debate."

"Throughout my life, I have always taken my deep and abiding love for this country as a given," Obama said in the 29-minute address to about 1,150 people crowded into a gymnasium at the Truman Memorial Building, named for former president Harry S. Truman. "It was how I was raised. It was what propelled me into public service. It is why I am running for president. And yet at times over the last 16 months, my patriotism has been challenged -- at times as a result of my own carelessness, more often as a result of the desire by some to score political points and raise fears about who I am and what I stand for."

Obama's speech came on the same day that his rival for the White House, Sen. John McCain, pushed back hard against criticism of his own record as a Navy flier and a prisoner of war. On Sunday, retired Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark questioned McCain's qualifications for the White House. "He hasn't held executive responsibility," Clark said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "I don't think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president."

Obama rebuked that line of attack Monday, acknowledging McCain by name in saluting veterans "who have endured physical torment in service to our country."

"No further proof of such sacrifice is necessary," he said. "And let me also add that no one should ever devalue that service, especially for the sake of a political campaign, and that goes for supporters on both sides." In a statement, a spokesman for the senator from Illinois said that Obama "rejects yesterday's statement by General Clark."

I guess that wasn't the Wesley Clark he's known for all these years.

Polls have shown that a small but statistically significant slice of the electorate continues to question Obama's patriotism, especially in white, working-class regions.

Democrats act as though the issue of patriotism was infinitely nuanced and intricately complex it is not. Patriotism simply means that you love your country - just as it is and that you support your country - just as it is. Nothing more and nothing less.

If you hate your country and think that it is evil then you are not a patriot.

Being a patriot is not always a good thing. German patriots in the Second World War were bad people because they were loving and supporting Hitler's Reich in all its deeds, including the holocaust. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn could not be considered a Soviet patriot in that he hated the Soviet Union although he loved (and loves) Russia fiercely.

One of the fundamental characteristics of a patriot is that when his nation goes to war he supports it and does all in his power to ensure victory. In the buildup to the war if he thinks it is a bad idea then he speaks his mind and does everything he can to convince his countrymen that the war is a bad idea but once the decision has been made and the troops are engaged with the enemy the patriot's mind turns exclusively to thoughts of victory.

The classic example of this is Charles Lindbergh. In the days before WWII Lindbergh opposed America's entry into the war because he supported the Nazi's political and racial ideology and because he didn't believe that the Axis could be defeated. His opposition to the war was so strident and vocal that it cost him his colonel's commission in the US Army Air Corps. However when war was declared Lindbergh did everything in his power to help the US achieve victory, even risking his life by flying combat missions as a "civilian consultant". This is because Lindbergh was a true patriot.

The true patriot does not have to think that his country is perfect and the true patriot can and should work to make his nation a better place. However the patriot would be content to live in his country even if he knew that it would never change because even though he knows that it could be better he still loves it just the way it is.

This is one of the key differences between the genuine patriot and the left-wing pseudo-patriot. The pseudo-patriot does not love his nation as it is. What the pseudo-patriot loves is a vision, which exists only in his and other like-minded people's heads, of what the country could become if only they were in charge and empowered to remake it into a completely different place than it is right now.

This is the real meaning of HOPE and CHANGE.