The Bottom Line
Published 3:02 pm Monday, August 18, 2008
The Absence of Barack Obama's patriotism
By Tray Smith
"His roots to basic American values and culture are at best limited. I cannot imagine America electing a president during a time of war who is not at his center fundamentally American in is his thinking and in his values.” So Mark Penn, a senior Hillary Clinton advisor, wrote about Barack Obama in a strategy memo sent to Clinton on March 19 of last year. That internal memo, along with many more from the Clinton campaign archives, was released this week by “The Atlantic” magazine.
Penn went on to advise the Clinton campaign to, “Explicitly own ‘American’ in our programs, the speeches and the values. He (Obama) doesn’t. Make this a new American Century, the American Strategic Energy Fund. Let’s use our logo to make some flags we can give out. Let’s add flag symbols to the backgrounds. We are never going to say anything about his background - we have to show the value of ours when it comes to making decisions, understanding the needs of most Americans - the invisible Americans.”
These memos outline what the Clinton campaign perceived to be a signature weakness for Obama: his lack of a distinctly American worldview. However, Hillary Clinton never expanded on the theme to the extent she should have. If she had, she could well be a Presidential candidate today.
Likewise, if McCain expands upon these points subtly, he may succeed in the November election. General election voters are more likely to be concerned about patriotic sentiments than Democratic primary voters are, and the distinction between Senators McCain and Obama could not be clearer. McCain, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, graduated from the Naval Academy and has a son serving in Iraq. He has spent 24 years in the United States Congress. Obama grew up in Indonesia, graduated from Harvard and was a street activist in Chicago.
Senator Obama refused to wear a flag lapel pin for months under the false guise that flag lapel pins substitute true patriotism. Senator Obama never explained how, in fact, flag pins actually subtract from a person’s patriotic sentiment. He also never explained what true patriotism is, or why it cannot at least be expressed by a flag pin. In the process, he offended every true patriot that wakes up every morning and pins a flag to his tie in order to support this country.
Senator Obama attended Trinity United Church of Christ for more than 24 and listened to an anti-American preacher spew hate. When this issue became news of YouTube proportions, Obama delivered a soaring speech about race in America and proclaimed he could no more disown his pastor then his own, white grandmother from Kansas. Afterwards, that pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, went on a national speaking tour that embarrassed the Obama campaign, and Obama immediately disowned him. No one knows what happened to his white grandmother.
Senator Obama’s wife, Michelle, proclaimed that she became proud of her country for the first time in her life when her husband’s campaign took flight. Never mind their mutual experience at Harvard, her successful career and our almost limitless freedom.
Last month, Senator Obama made a campaign stop in Germany, where he introduced himself proudly as a citizen of the world. Apparently, Obama values his global identity more than his American identity because he offered no explanation of how he can maintain global citizenship and remain a uniquely American citizen.
To the extent Senator Obama is proud of his country; it is because of the political success this country has afforded him. Last month, he told a group of Democratic Congressmen that he is a symbol of America returning to its best traditions. Obama does not take pride in America; he takes pride in what America could be if it would only elect him to be commander and chief.
These arrogant, condescending and unpatriotic ramblings are only examples of the many such sentiments Obama has expressed, and together they form a consistent picture of Obama’s worldview, which does not value the unrivaled benefits of being an American citizen. Elements of the main stream media frown upon those who question Obama’s patriotism and accuse any such individuals of perpetrating Republican smear tactics. However, Senator Obama is seeking election to our nation’s highest office. The regard he holds this country in should not be considered irrelevant to that honor.
Considering the distinction between Obama and McCain on this important character test, the election in November will be as much a referendum on Americans’ appreciation for their country, its traditions and its achievements as it will be a referendum between two candidates. Although patriotism may not be spoken about explicitly, it will be measured by the final tally in November.
Tray Smith is a political columnist for the Atmore Advance. He is a student at Escambia County High School and can be reached at tsmith_90@ hotmail.com.