Heckuva job, A.P.!


Sen. Barack Obama’s refusal to wear an American flag lapel pin along with a photo of him not putting his hand over his heart during the National Anthem led conservatives on Internet and in the media to question his patriotism.

Now Obama’s wife, Michelle, has drawn their ire, too, for saying recently that she’s really proud of her country for the first time in her adult life.

Conservative consultants say that combined, the cases could be an issue for Obama in the general election if he wins the nomination, especially as he runs against Vietnam war hero Sen. John McCain.

“The reason it hasn’t been an issue so far is that we’re still in the microcosm of the Democratic primary,” said Republican consultant Roger Stone. “Many Americans will find the three things offensive. Barack Obama is out of the McGovern wing of the party, and he is part of the blame America first crowd.”

Whoever had the bright idea that this was newsworthy should be fired.

First of all, it’s elephant-shit obvious: of course right-wingers are questioning his patriotism, they question everybody on that, every election year. For them if you disagree with them in the slightest, you’re anti-American, as they’ve defined their own ideology as what it means to be one. What would be a shock would be if they didn’t, because the day that claiming an opponent as unAmerican fell out of their playbook I would immediately jump out of the window, because that’s a sign the world has kicked into reverse and I’ve always been curious what it’d feel like if humans could fly.

Another thing they’ve missed here is that it helps the agenda of the wingers to have this get mainstream media play. See, our media, clinging to the idea that it is possible to be 100% objective, have a simplistic view of fairness. To them, every issue has two sides, no matter what, and both sides have to be treated as equally credible — “oh, they’re claiming a presidential candidate is anti-American, we must give their grievances a fair hearing!”. Because of this, claims that common sense would mercilessly rule out end up seen as debatable, and we hear them over and over again; unfortunately, some among us crack and accept it.

Even going by the most basic measure of value as news, one that even a toddler could agree to — freshness as a story — this fails. Funny thing is, the article itself acknowledges that!

Obama already is the subject of a shadowy smear campaign based on the Internet that falsely suggests he’s a Muslim intent on destroying the United States. Obama is a Christian and has been fighting the e-mail hoax, which also claims he doesn’t put his hand over his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance, and he’s been trying to correct the misinformation.

“Whenever I’m in the United States Senate, I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America,” Obama frequently tells voters. “I’ve been going to the same church for 20 years, praising Jesus,” he adds.

Like I said, they define what it means to be American as synonymous with their ideology. There is no reason to care what religion any politician follows, or even if they don’t follow one at all, and not being Christian has zilch to do with patriotism. Even if someone is a muslim, it doesn’t follow from there that they’re in league with al-qaeda. Obama being a politician, he naturally is hesitant to give this the response it really needs: “why the fuck do you care who I pray to anyway?”

Besides, gestures like wearing a flag pin, holding your hand to your heart for the pledge, or standing for the national anthem are meaningless. I remember going to football games and hearing the national anthem before the teams took the field, and half the crowd didn’t stand up. Now, does this mean there’s a 5th column of terrorist sympathizers among football fans? Or does it mean that after all that time of being in lines, from getting their tickets, to getting food & drinks, to turning in their stub, to squeezing past strangers to find their seat, they’re really glad to be able to sit the fuck DOWN and don’t feel like moving?

Rather than just disseminating the same pointless blather for the umpteenth time, what would be more useful would be an analysis of what is really meant by these kind of charges, including a brief history and a couple examples of the type of scum that actually DID follow the Patriotism Rules to the letter. But that would be too much work, not to mention “unfair”…

Edit: John Cole & Josh Marshall have more on this.  Well, Josh has some background info on the “source” for this story, while John has more pictures of scumbags wearing lapel pins, but every bit counts.


About b-psycho

Left-libertarian blogger & occasional musician.
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