Commentary Magazine


A Little Worried?

Barack Obama added this to his otherwise rather standard election night speech on Tuesday:

I owe what I am to this country I love, and I will never forget it. Where else could a young man who grew up herding goats in Kenya get the chance to fulfill his dream of a college education? Where else could he marry a white girl from Kansas whose parents survived war and depression to find opportunity out west? Where else could they have a child who would one day have the chance to run for the highest office in the greatest nation the world has ever known? Where else, but in the United States of America?

Could it be that the Obama team is a wee bit concerned that between Michelle’s comments, Barack’s discarding of his flag lapel pin, and all the talk about how positively dreadful things in America are, even Democratic primary voters  might sense he is a bit too disdainful of the country he seeks to lead? (This is to say nothing of general election voters, who will be choosing between him and a war hero whose love for America pours forth with the slightest provocation.)

The comments were no accident, according to this report:

A senior Obama strategist, David Axelrod, acknowledged that he is receiving varied advice from Democrats, including changing Obama’s stump speech to emphasize his American roots and pushing for a second round of changes in the nation’s welfare laws, this time aimed at stray fathers. If Obama finds himself forced to defend his patriotism before a skeptical electorate, he will be in deep trouble, [Iowa Governor Tom] Vilsack warned. But, he added, “what’s the alternative, ignore it? We paid a price in 2004 for thinking the charge wouldn’t stick.” [Alabama Congressman Arthur] Davis said Obama needs to immediately preempt attacks on his patriotism by reprising the theme of his 2004 speech to the Democratic National Convention — that only in the United States of America could the son of a Kenyan immigrant and a woman from a small-town in Kansas aspire to the heights of power. Obama took up that theme last night, but only deep inside his San Antonio address.

The problem, however, is not one easily solved by a throwaway line or two. Obama and his wife have given us every reason to believe that the country is a mess, the average guy gets the shaft, and politicians are corrupt. It’s a fine line to walk between painting a picture of a country in such dire straits that we need Obama and only Obama (or change, or something  different than anything that ever came before him) and saying that, flat out, that you are not proud of your country. I think all of Axeldrod’s advice is right. If there are concerns about Obama’s affection for this country now, just wait until he’s up against a man who considered it an honor to remain in prison for the country he loved.