“It is worth considering the meaning of patriotism because the question of who is – or is not – a patriot all too often poisons our political debates, in ways that divide us rather than bring us together.” -Barack Obama, June 30, 2008
Throughout the Bush years, particularly in the wake of Iraq's liberation, liberals from coast to coast grew increasingly paranoid about patriotism. Virtually anything conservatives said about anything could be twisted and perceived as a dig—subtle or overt—at any given liberal’s love of country. Here are some illustrative examples of this phenomenon, circa 2004:
Conservative A: "I support the troops."
Liberal A: "Dissent is patriotic, chicken hawk."
Conservative B: "God Bless America."
Liberal B: "How dare you suggest that I don't want God to bless America! For your information, I hope that he or she blesses America, and every other country for that matter."
Conservative C: "I'm flying American Airlines today."
Liberal C: "Stop questioning my patriotism!"
Suffice it to say, they seemed a tad insecure about the whole thing. Left-leaning pundits and talking heads continually insisted that Republicans, particularly those within the administration, reflexively tarred anyone who dared to deviate from the party line as a traitor. In most cases, these accusations were figments of the Left's collective imagination. Still, to liberals, it was very real and totally outrageous, so America was introduced to a new Golden Rule of politics: Questioning someone else's patriotism is strictly verboten in all circumstances.
A Congressman from Pennsylvania maliciously slanders US Marines by falsely accusing them of murder? Don't bring up the P-word. A former haughty-looking presidential candidate encourages young people to educate themselves, lest they get "stuck" in the military? He won three purple hearts. Bite your tongue. A certain Democratic leader in the Senate prematurely declares an active US military mission "lost" for partisan gain? He loves the troops! He has many friends who are troops!
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography