Saturday, August 20, 2011

Rick Perry on Patriotism

Press accounts have it that Rick Perry really stepped over the line the other day. He seemed to be impugning Barack Obama’s patriotism.

Let’s see: Barack Obama declared himself a citizen of the world. He went around apologizing for America. He questions whether America is exceptional. His wife declared that she had only found it in her heart to feel proud of her country after it nominated her husband for the presidency.

And, of course, Obama openly impugns the patriotism of those who disagree with him.

No one blinks.

If a presidential candidate dares to question Obama’s patriotism, he will be called out by the press and the pundits for having committed something that is equivalent to a thought crime.

Early in the week Perry said this: “I think you want a president who is passionate about America — that’s in love with America.”

Thus, a reporter asked him whether he was suggesting that President Obama does not love America. Perry responded: “You need to ask him.”

I don’t want to split too many hairs here, but being passionate about America and loving America and not really the same thing. There is even a difference, as most people use these terms, between loving America and being in love with America.

You can certainly love your country without being passionate about it.

Perry was trying to highlight his own passion for America, by unsubtly comparing his passionate commitment with Obama’s more nuanced love for his country.

It is not, however, out of line to suggest that the reporter might ask the question of Obama himself. Rick Perry does not speak for Barack Obama; he does not know what is in Obama‘s heart.

Only Obama can answer for his own feelings.

Perry was also pointing to the fact that reporters have been loath to ask Barack Obama very many difficult questions. While Republican candidates are being vetted and tested by the press, Barack Obama largely gets a bye.

Everyone knows that the media double standard exists. Few know how to correct it.

Perhaps I am parsing Perry’s line a bit too finely, but the press that is all over his presumed impugning of Obama’s patriotism has nothing to say about the fact that Obama has been out on the hustings impugning the patriotism of most members of Congress.

Obama has been trying out his new election theme: country first. He has been saying that those who disagree with him have been putting party before country.

Yet, when he blames Congress for putting party before country by holding up free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea, he must know, and he must know that we all know, that these agreements have been held up by Democrats, working at the behest of their union bosses.

Does Obama want to say that these Democrats and their union bosses are putting party before country?

Or does he know that no one is going to call him out on it.

Rick Perry’s inelegant insinuation might have stepped over a line, but the line he stepped over is only there for Republicans.

Double standards rankle. Unfair treatment by the press irritates and angers candidates. There is nothing very strange about this. Nor should there be.

In truth, Rick Perry was not impugning Obama’s patriotism as much as he was impugning the integrity of the Obamaphile journalistic community, and putting them on notice.

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