Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Monday, February 25, 2008

What's Wrong With Obama

Now we know the worst. Behind all the electoral enthusiasm for the Democratic front runner is a treasonous self-regard.

In today's New York Times, William Kristol explains it in his inimitable style. In declining to wear an American flag lapel pin as "a substitute...for true patriotism," which he defines as "speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security," Barack Obama is guilty of...moral vanity!

"What’s striking," Kristol instructs us, "is that Obama couldn’t resist a grandiose explanation. Obama’s unnecessary and imprudent statement impugns the sincerity or intelligence of those vulgar sorts who still choose to wear a flag pin. But moral vanity prevailed. He wanted to explain that he was too good--too patriotic!--to wear a flag pin on his chest."

A surge of unity after 9/11 inspired Americans to display the flag--on their lapels and their lawns--after the trauma of an unthinkable attack. But Kristol's heroes--Bush, Cheney and Rove--converted that heartfelt feeling into a Neo-Con tool for waging preemptive war, trampling on civil liberties and winning elections by attacking their opponents' love of country.

In rejecting that definition of patriotism, Obama is embracing "the preening self-regard of Bill Clinton, the patronizing elitism of Al Gore and the haughty liberalism of John Kerry."

As a member of that fraternity, Obama can't expect to be pinned by William Kristol, who has belatedly pledged John McCain into the circle of true believers who wear their American hearts on their sleeves and their chests.

7 comments:

jf said...

For people like Kristol, their second worst nightmare (after a hike in the capital gains tax) is a serious national debate led by progressives over what it really means to be patriotic.

Anonymous said...

Both my wife and I were raised in Manhattan. Left/liberal politics was my mother's milk. Moving to a more traditional, more conservative outer-borough neighborhood taught us that not all those who display the flag are right-wing crazies.

After 9/11, there was something comforting, healing, restorative about hanging the flag from our side porch. But that feeling didn't last long.
Soon, the flag became the chosen decorative element for anti-Arab demonstrations in the Midwest. Belligerents began to talk about flag-display as a defining feature of American patriotism.

Once again, our flag became their flag, symbol of narrowness, militarism, belligerence, unilateralism and xenophobia. I put it back in my dresser drawer and haven't taken it oiut since.

I hope a Barack Obama presidency will give me reason to display the flag once again.

Anonymous said...

Legal implications of events that tend to mar the value of law degrees, and bar association membershp that idealize the integrity of lawyers, whether black or white, is or should be of concern to a nation supposedly living by laws, not the ruling of men.

Social mobility is not the question appropriate of whether lawyers violate that trust in order to capture the best that America has to offer since they presumably are held to a higher standard. Where legal education gives lawyers such professional immunity that they are rarely caught in the webs that afflict their clients, the problem rises to the level of Constitutional authority that rewards crime for some, and applies unfairly penalities for crime to others - a specific violation of due process under the Constitution, and a violation of the 14th Amendment.

A government under Constitution cannot afford that practice as public policy norms it can defend, and this is the reason President Clinton had to be impeached as President Bush should have been impeached.

The problem is more who is held to accountability and who isn't than whether they are black or white from the bottom of society to the top. And lawyers definitely reside at the top. The social injustice to ordinary citizens at the bottom who are summarily incarcerated for the same crimes as those at the top refutes the social injustice that Obama claims to hold dear, and try to correct. That makes him a "do as I say, not as I do" candidate of monstrous proportions.

Mark Rickerby said...

"Anonymous" (of course) above said he stopped flying his flag because of what other people said about it, or how they used it. He should display his flag for no other reason than he has the ability to move to an "outer-borough neighborhood" and live in peace and prosperity. Despite what mistakes he thinks the Bush administration has made, this is still the greatest country in the world. Why did his flag have to become "their flag"? Why can't he have a mind of his own and fly his flag for his own reasons? How terribly easy patriotism is forfeited.

Anonymous said...

This is why every non-american hates you guys. Get the fuck over yourselves!

Mark Rickerby said...

"Anonymous" (What else?),

I don't know what "non-Americans" you're referring to but I've traveled all over the world and haven't encountered that attitude at all. America is the place most people in the world dream about moving to so they can make their dreams come true and free themselves from the lack of opportunity or outright oppression where they are. A Muslim man in Turkey (one of the few free Muslim countries - 1 out of 49) said, "Do you know what I love about you Americans? You see something wrong in the world and you do something about it. You don't wait and look around to see what other countries are going to do like everyone else does."

That's my America. And I don't give a damn about people like you or countries who aren't intelligent enough to know that the world would be a much darker place without America, who don't know that the lion's share of worldwide charity and relief flows through America's gates (and is rarely paid back or even appreciated), and who don't know the heart of my country as well as I do. But then, it's common as mud for small, ugly, uneducated guys to resent big, handsome, virtuous guys. It's really as simple as that, isn't it?

Justin said...

So let me ask all those of you out there that voted obama into office, do you feel stupid now? If not just wait things will get worse!