Commentary Magazine


Food For Thought For The Left

If nothing else, John McCain’s “Bio Tour” has gotten the MSM fretting over Barack Obama’s “patriotism problem.” Joe Klein correctly notes that this aversion to patriotic sentiment is a “chronic disease among Democrats.” He acknowledges:

Patriotism is, sadly, a crucial challenge for Obama now. His aides believe that the Wright controversy was more about anti-Americanism than it was about race. Michelle Obama’s unfortunate comment that the success of the campaign had made her proud of America “for the first time” in her adult life and the Senator’s own decision to stow his American-flag lapel pin — plus his Islamic-sounding name — have fed a scurrilous undercurrent of doubt about whether he is “American” enough.

Others not known to be enamored of McCain have figured it out:

There’s a deeper, more holistic messaging attempt at work. McCain often likes to say that the country owes him nothing, but McCain owes the country everything. By contrast, McCain advisers believe that Obama’s core message is arrogance: America has problems, and only Obama can fix them; he deserves the presidency. (An irony: the incarnation of JFK – Obama – cast as the foil to Kennedy’s most famous maxim.)

Will Obama recognize this as a problem and “correct” it ? Well, there is the problem of all those past writings and associations that show, at best, an indifference to patriotic fervor. (And it won’t be easy to disguise his comfort level with those who vilify America.)

But the more fundamental issue is that Obama, as Michael Barone noted, can no more embrace full-throated patriotism than he can conceal his “insouciance or even indifference” to the outcome of the Iraq War. That’s just not his thing. Doing so would undercut his message that we should look to him (not to our country’s values, institutions, and fellow citizens) to find cures for what ails us.