Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Proud to be an American

There's buzzing about the comments in Wisconsin from the wife of Presidential Candidate Barack Obama on the fact that, apparently, the only thing that's ever made her proud of America is people "hoping" for Barack to win the Presidency.
What we have learned over this year is that hope is making a comeback. It is making a comeback. And let me tell you something -- for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. And I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction and just not feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment. I've seen people who are hungry to be unified around some basic common issues, and it's made me proud.


It is, of course, both easy and obvious to, as John Podhoretz has done, list some of the things that have happened in Michelle Obama's "adult lifetime," and question the fact that none of them gave her any pride.
Forget matters like the victory in the Cold War; how about only things that have made liberals proud — all the accomplishments of inclusion? How about the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1991? Or Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s elevation to the Supreme Court? Or Carol Moseley Braun’s election to the Senate in 1998? How about the merely humanitarian, like this country’s startling generosity to the victims of the tsunami? I’m sure commenters can think of hundreds more landmarks of this sort. Didn’t she even get a twinge from, say, the Olympics?

Many others have done that, too. And it's all correct.

It's interesting to ask, however, what the source of the current "pride" is. Obviously, one would expect that she's proud of her husband. But that isn't what she said. She said that she's proud of her country, and that it's the first time. I assume, frankly, that it is campaign trail hyperbole. But what possible kind of mindset could produce that particular hyperbole? According to Podhoretz,
it suggests the Obama campaign really does have its roots in New Class leftism, according to which patriotism is not only the last refuge of a scoundrel, but the first refuge as well — that America is not fundamentally good but flawed, but rather fundamentally flawed and only occasionally good.

Jeanne Kirkpatrick, in addressing the Republican National Convention in 1984, said of the Democrats (who had recently held their own National Convention in San Francisco) that "they always blame America first."

That's who Michelle Obama is, and that's where that attitude comes from.

It's apparently who her husband is, too. This is a minor thing, but he is currently refusing to wear the American flag pin. Not just not wearing one - actively not wearing one. "I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest. Instead, I'm going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great. Hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism." So for Barack, telling people what "will make this country great" is patriotism.

Memo to Senator Obama: This country is great already. It doesn't need you to make it so. It was great before you were born, it will (hopefully) be great after you are gone. It will be great in January of 2009 whether you are elected in November or not. The American people already have greatness - they don't need you telling them how to do it.

W.S. Gilbert had the Obama's number over a century ago, when the Lord High Executioner's "little list" included "the idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone, every century but this and every country but his own." Every human institution, by virtue of being a human institution, is flawed. The United States is not perfect, and I'm not aware of anyone that would argue that it is. But it would be tough to make a reasonable case that it is not the greatest country on the face of the earth, a country of which its citizens should be proud. It is indicative of an unpleasant mindset that that appears not to be the case for either of the Obamas.

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