Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Patriotism by the Dashboard Light

Given that both presidential candidates are fairly exceptional and admirable individuals, it's only natural that their detractors have to clutch at straws when it comes to finding 'dirt' to fling at them.


The perennial issue with Barack Obama is his 'patriotism.' The right wing have attacked him for not wearing a U.S. flag pin on his lapel.

"The truth is that right after 9/11 I had a pin," Obama said in response. "Shortly after 9/11...that became a substitute for, I think, true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security."

I absolutely understand Obama's position. True patriotism doesn't come from wearing a pin, or having a 'God Bless the USA' badge on the tailgate of your pick up truck. Those are merely things and I think it's rather sad that certain people feel they can attack another's 'patriotism' merely because they don't chose to wave the same things that they do.

It's a stupid and inane attack. Now Obama's elected to sport a lapel pin, what's next? Are the right wing going to stick two pins to their lapel and attack anybody who only has one as being 'half as patriotic?'

There are many opinions and actions that make somebody patriotic - but conforming to the dumb mentality of the masses is not one of them. The lapel pin argument is based on St Patrick's day logic. In reality, wearing a green hat doesn't make you Irish.


In a similarly inane attack, General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe for NATO, yesterday attacked McCain's military service record as proof that the senator is 'untested and untried' when it comes to national security.

"He's never been responsible for policy formulation. He's never had leadership in a crisis, or in anything larger than his own element on an aircraft carrier or his own congressional staff."

As far as lame attacks go, this one is utterly limp.

McCain might not have been a 'great general' like Presidents Eisenhower or Grant. However, he had a distinguished military career, served with great honor and proved himself to be a hero several times over.

Compare that to Barack Obama, who has had no military service whatsoever. Compare it even to George W. Bush, who ducked out of service in Vietnam thanks to his family connections and went AWOL from the 'champagne squadron' he was assigned to.

McCain has a credible record of active military service - but more than that, he has a credible record of making tough decisions and supreme sacrifices.

In 1967, when the aircraft carrier McCain was assigned to was engulfed in flames, the 30 year old Lieutenant Commander suffered serious injuries trying to save the life of a fellow pilot.

In 1968, after spending nearly a year in the hellish 'Hanoi Hilton' as a prisoner of war, the horribly injured McCain was ruthlessly tortured when he refused to accept the offer of repatriation to America and instead stayed with his fellow prisoners.

That decision cost him five years of his life in a brutal prison, suffering torture that has left him with life-long disability. What John McCain endured is beyond the comprehension of most people. I read about what happened to him and know that I could never have survived what he did.

But John McCain didn't just survive it. For the sake of honor and comradeship, he remained a prisoner when he could have had the opportunity to leave.

I don't believe anybody - especially not a fellow Vietnam veteran like Wesley Clark - has the right to attack McCain's qualifications to be president based on his military service. If anything, John McCain's experiences have proven him to be a brutally tough, disciplined, principled man who has experienced the ugly reality of war in a way no other presidential candidate in forty years has.

Whatever weaknesses McCain's campaign has, lack of experience is not one of them. As he himself admits: "I'm older than dirt and have more scars than Frankenstein."


FB said...

McSame was a lousy pilot who crashed. He claims that this is a suitable qualification to be CIC.

Obama makes no such claims.

I really don't think that serving in the US armed forces is a necessary qualification for POTUS.

April said...

I actually met John McCain my senior year of high school (1989). I got to interview him for our school newspaper. He told a group of us his story about being a POW. It was heartbreaking to hear this story directly from the man who experienced it. Yet he told it in a way of providing information, not self promotion. He was a genuine and sincere man. Definitely a patriot. He deserves our respect for that. But that's not what will determine my vote. I consider myslef a liberal conservative. I am truly on the fence.

Oh and I need pictures of you in the Scarface suit. Upload them now. Get on it.