In the same way some people watch auto racing for the car crashes, I read the Wall Street Journal for the Peggy Noonan. She has been totally unhinged by the unraveling of the Bush administration. No one in mainstream media can compare to her for rambling incoherence. Today’s offering, The View From Gate 14, should win a prize. It took me quite a while to figure out where she was going with her discussion of airport security. I never expected it to be related to Barack Obama’s depth of love for America. Let’s take a look at this garbage.
Main thought. Hillary Clinton is not Barack Obama’s problem. America is Mr. Obama’s problem. He has been tagged as a snooty lefty, as the glamorous, ambivalent candidate from Men’s Vogue, the candidate who loves America because of the great progress it has made in terms of racial fairness. Fine, good. But has he ever gotten misty-eyed over . . . the Wright Brothers and what kind of country allowed them to go off on their own and change everything? How about D-Day, or George Washington, or Henry Ford, or the losers and brigands who flocked to Sutter’s Mill, who pushed their way west because there was gold in them thar hills? There’s gold in that history.
John McCain carries it in his bones. Mr. McCain learned it in school, in the Naval Academy, and, literally, at grandpa’s knee. Mrs. Clinton learned at least its importance in her long slog through Arkansas, circa 1977-92.
Mr. Obama? What does he think about all that history? Which is another way of saying: What does he think of America? That’s why people talk about the flag pin absent from the lapel. They wonder if it means something. Not that the presence of the pin proves love of country – any cynic can wear a pin, and many cynics do. But what about Obama and America? Who would have taught him to love it, and what did he learn was loveable, and what does he think about it all?
Another challenge. Snooty lefties get angry when you ask them to talk about these things. They get resentful. Who are you to question my patriotism? But no one is questioning his patriotism, they’re questioning its content, its fullness. Gate 14 has a right to hear this. They’d lean forward to hear.
This is an opportunity, for Mr. Obama needs an Act II. Act II is hard. Act II is where the promise of Act I is deepened, the plot thickens, and all is teed up for resolution and meaning. Mr. Obama’s Act I was: I’m Obama. He enters the scene. Act III will be the convention and acceptance speech. After that a whole new drama begins. But for now he needs Act II. He should make his subject America.
I suppose the proper place to start is with myself. Where did I learn to love my country? Who taught me to love it? What did I find loveable? I’m not even sure of the answer, although my parents and my teachers and the programs I watched on television and the books I chose to read all played a part. I learned to love the Constitution of the United States. I learned to respect and admire the Founding Fathers of this country, despite all their flaws. I came to understand that our Republic was something new and fragile, and that it needed protection from both within and without. And I, of course, learned to love the area that I grew up in, and all the wonderful national parks around the country that I visited during summer vacations as a child. And I loved baseball and football, and mint chocolate chip ice cream. In other words, I learned to love my country the same way that Barack Obama learned to love it…by growing up here and learning a little history.
It’s hard for me to fathom why Peggy Noonan thinks that John McCain has love of country in his bones and I do not, or Obama does not. My father might not be an admiral, but he’s a veteran. My oldest brother was born in Germany while my father was stationed there. My grandfather was a Colonel in the Army during World War II. He was a physician that served stateside in Leavenworth, Kansas, healing the wounded soldiers that came back from the front. Barack Obama’s grandfather served in Patton’s army as they swept across France and into Nazi Germany. But who would have taught us to love our country?
I’ll tell you another thing. I don’t normally get my pride and my love off of the accomplishments of others. I do have pride and love for our Constitution and our system of governance, but my love of country has nothing to do with the gold miners that forced the Native Americans off their land in violation of treaties, nor with the Nazi-sympathizer Henry Ford, nor even with the enterprising Wright Brothers. I’m all for clean-running trains, planes, and automobiles, but I don’t love my country because of them. I wouldn’t die for my country to preserve the internal combustion engine. I’d die to preserve the Constitution. And by Constitution, I do not mean the Estate Tax, Peggy. Or whatever other supply-side economic policy you think made it possible for Americans to figure out air travel.
Is Peggy Noonan too lazy and stupid to be a racist? What kind of racism is it that is so stupid and lazy? Who would have taught Barack Obama to love his country? She seriously asked that question.