According to the funhouse logic of the Kerry campaign, I have no choice but to question Kerry's patriotism.
As Mort Kondracke of Roll Call has been dutifully chronicling, ever since Kerry became the unofficial nominee, Kerry has claimed that criticism of his record equals criticism of his patriotism.
In February, when Ed Gillespie, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, listed the number of defense programs Kerry opposed - the MX missile, the B-1 bomber, the Tomahawk missile, the Apache helicopter, the Patriot missile, the Harrier jet and the F-15 fighter aircraft -Kerry's campaign manager immediately replied, "Today, RNC chair Ed Gillespie made another desperate attack on the patriotism of John Kerry."
And just this week Kerry denounced what he calls the administration's "twisted sense of morality and ethics" for questioning his patriotism.
"I fought under that flag and I saw that flag draped over the coffins of friends," Kerry declared, referencing his service in Vietnam for the 12,098,876,918th time by my rough count. "I'm tired of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney and a bunch of people who went out of their way to avoid the chance to serve when they had the chance," he said.
According to The Washington Post, after one of these outbursts, Kerry was asked by reporters if he knew anything about Karl Rove's draft record. Kerry said he didn't, but "I'm just not going to be accused by any of these people of not being strong on defense, period."
So there you have it. Kerry leaves us with nothing but bad choices. If we truly think Kerry is, in fact, too soft of defense we can either A) lie, B) tell the truth and weather the accusations that we are "questioning his patriotism," or C) simply cut to the chase and question his patriotism directly.
Now, I don't really think Kerry's unpatriotic. But at the same time, I don't think it'd be the worst thing in the world to say so if it were true. If patriotism is defined as love of country, I fail to see why it's out of bounds to say that some people love America more - or less - than others.
Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, novelist Barbara Kingsolver declared,
"Patriotism threatens free speech with death... It despises people of foreign birth. It has specifically blamed homosexuals, feminists and the American Civil Liberties Union. In other words, the American flag stands for intimidation, censorship, violence, bigotry, sexism, homophobia and shoving the Constitution through a paper shredder. Whom are we calling terrorists here?"