Non-“right wing crazies” also question the Democrats’ (and specifically Obama’s) patriotism.
Like Joe Klein, for example.
This is a chronic disease among Democrats, who tend to talk more about what’s wrong with America than what’s right. When Ronald Reagan touted “Morning in America” in the 1980s, Dick Gephardt famously countered that it was near midnight “and getting darker all the time.” This is ironic and weirdly self-defeating, since the liberal message of national improvement is profoundly more optimistic, and patriotic, than the innate conservative pessimism about the perfectibility of human nature. Obama’s hopemongering is about as American as a message can get although, in the end, it is mostly about our ability to transcend our imperfections rather than the effortless brilliance of our diversity, informality and freedom-propelled creativity.
That’s what the right is questioning about the Democrats and about Obama. It’s not that he doesn’t wear a flag pin. I could care less whether Democrats or Republicans wear flag pins. The attitude and mindset of a potential President is what’s important here. I want someone who, while admitting the challenges and struggles we face as a country, will also acknowledge the possibility that we can overcome those challenges. I’ve said on several occasions that it’s customary to have the party out of power tell the voters how terrible everything is to win elections, and that both sides do this. However, the Democrats seem to have perfected this particular argument, and it’s often hard for them to admit that the country isn’t doomed, because this ruins all of their stump speeches.
It also damages their push for national health care, pulling out of Iraq — forget for a minute that both Hillary and Obama have flip-flopped on their commitment to immediate withdrawal from Iraq — and all of their other grand social experiments and new government spending. This aversion to Bush has really tied the Dems in knots to the point where they can never give him credit for anything, even when it’s obvious they agree with what he does. According to the Democrats, Bush has ruined this great country, and all the bad things happening to you in your life are indirectly caused by your President. This period of misery will continue under President McCain, because “he’s just like Bush”. McCain will also ruin your life, so the only choice you have is to vote Democratic. That’s their whole argument. McCain = Bush.
At some point, the Democrats will have to make the case for their nominee, and it has to be more than “We’re not like Bush!”. President Bush isn’t running again, and running against him won’t work this time.