Sen. Barack Obama spoke on the subject of patriotism this past week in an effort to undo some of the damage he has already inflicted on his own image -- through his associations, his statements and policy positions -- and to obscure his liberalism.
Liberals rightly feel defensive about their patriotism because they always seem to find themselves blaming the United States for this or that, exhorting us to be more like the "enlightened" nations of Europe or forever shouting that we are a "laughing stock" in the eyes of other nations.
It was not a conservative who wrote in an editorial this week: "Tuck the soaring speeches in a drawer for another time. This year, America doesn't deserve to celebrate its birthday. This Fourth of July should be a day of quiet and atonement. For we have sinned."
It was Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Chris Satullo, who, like so many liberals, is angry at America because he sees it as standing for torturing prisoners, imprisoning enemy combatants without hearings, rendition and other denials of human rights. According to Satullo, America isn't safer because our alleged abuses have "spawned new enemies by the thousands, made the jihadist rants ring true to so many ears. So put out no flags. Sing no patriotic hymns. We deserve no Fourth this year."
Sorry, but you just don't hear much of this type of rhetoric from conservatives. And Obama and the entire Democratic establishment know it.
When conservatives reflect on America, the first things that come to their minds are not exaggerated tales about waterboarding or deliberately hatched lies about the National Security Agency spying on innocent old American ladies.
They beam with pride that America is still the greatest, freest and most prosperous nation in the history of the world. They see it as a beneficent promoter and defender of what is right, not as a stingy, imperial bully.
Obama's patriotism problem isn't just related to his liberalism. He has earned demerits in this category in his own right by refusing to wear a flag pin and foolishly -- and defiantly -- trying to justify it. Also, there are the statements of his wife that she is proud of America for the first time in her life, his associations with William Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his contemptuous assessment of small-town America, and his typically liberal appeasement and blame-America-first orientation.
Doubtlessly realizing all this, Obama delivered his patriotism speech in Independence, Mo. -- the heart of that small-town America he consummately insulted and alienated. While I disagree with much of what he said in his speech, my main problem is that his words were carefully designed to mask the extent of his extreme liberalism.