Monday, February 25, 2008

Questions of Patriotism

One lingering concern I have had with Obama is how he would respond to the inevitable smears that would come his way during the general election. Some Obama supporters think he has been tested by the heat of his campaign with Clinton, but that will be nothing compared to what is coming. We are already getting hints of this with stories about Obama dressing in native Kenyan garb and questions about his patriotism.

As for the latter, Glenn Greenwald brings us Obama's response.

"A party that presided over a war in which our troops did not get the body armor they needed, or were sending troops over who were untrained because of poor planning, or are not fulfilling the veterans' benefits that these troops need when they come home, or are undermining our Constitution with warrantless wiretaps that are unnecessary?

"That is a debate I am very happy to have. We'll see what the American people think is the true definition of patriotism."

This response is beautiful on more than one level. Not only does it throw the accusation back in the Republicans face, it does so in a way that is not defensive (I don't have to prove my patriotism to YOU) or adoptive of right-wing methods of demonstrating patriotism (I do so wave the flag, wear lapel pins and sing "I'm glad to be an American!"). Furthermore, the throwback does NOT make a similar accusation of lack of patriotism on the part of the GOP even though it may look like it at first blush

Go back and read what Obama says. He never once calls the Republican's patriotism into question. He hilights the mistakes of the GOP on foreign policy. By doing so he suggests that their judgment on questions of patriotism is flawed. But he does NOT follow this up with a "and that is why Republicans are unpatriotic" accusation. Instead, he deftly closes it with a "let's leave it to the American people to decide."

If this is an example of how Obama deals with such future attacks then color me greatly relieved.


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