Each election cycle I watch candidates (generally but not exclusively from the Right) call into question the patriotism of their opposition. Bush’s attacks on John Kerry serve as a prime example. Kerry (like him or hate him) enlisted and served with honor in Vietnam. However, in the 2004 general election Kerry’s service in Vietnam was portrayed as calculating; not patriotic. By contrast, President Bush’s service in the TX Air National Guard was characterized as patriotic. Strange? It was to me. However, what was even more strange was the general public’s acceptance.
There is a pervasive belief that if you are liberal you are less patriotic. Even if I was the best writer in the world I know that I could not convince people differently so I don’t bother. However, I am impressed that Barack Obama has challenged this assumption in a speech he gave today to veterans by calling into question why John McCain would assume someone like Barrack Obama would not be as patriotic as anyone else.
Attached is an excerpt of his speech which I read on Politico.com today.
“But one of the things that we have to change in this country is the idea that people can’t disagree without challenging each other’s character and patriotism. I have never suggested that Senator McCain picks his positions on national security based on politics or personal ambition. I have not suggested it because I believe that he genuinely wants to serve America’s national interest. Now, it’s time for him to acknowledge that I want to do the same.
Let me be clear: I will let no one question my love of this country. I love America, so do you, and so does John McCain. When I look out at this audience, I see people of different political views. You are Democrats and Republicans and Independents. But you all served together, and fought together, and bled together under the same proud flag. You did not serve a Red America or a Blue America — you served the United States of America.
So let’s have a serious debate, and let’s debate our disagreements on the merits of policy — not personal attacks. And no matter how heated it gets or what kind of campaign he chooses to run, I will honor Senator McCain’s service, just like I honor the service of every veteran in this room, and every American who has worn the uniform of the United States.”