Jonah Goldberg

Obama, meanwhile, has taken the high road. "I think that everybody who runs for president, it probably takes them a little bit of time before they start realizing that this isn't like running for governor or running for senator or running for Congress," he said, "and you've got to be a little more careful about what you say."

Fair enough.

So, I wonder, where is the criticism of Obama? His new "country first" campaign theme isn't an off-the-cuff gaffe; it's been vetted, tweaked and (I suspect) focus-grouped by the White House and the Obama campaign. And he's not simply running for president; Barack Obama is president. And he's saying that people who disagree with him don't care about the country. Indeed, he explains at great length that our political system is "broken" because he can't have his way -- which, don't ya know, is the American way.

When George W. Bush was president, he once said "if you're not with us, you're against us." This was an explicit statement about U.S. foreign policy toward states that turn a blind eye to terrorists bent on attacking America. But Bush's opponents, including much of Hollywood and the "objective" press, took it differently. They claimed it was a sinister vision of domestic dissent (which back then was the "highest form of patriotism," not ersatz racism). When Karl Rove made the 2002 and 2004 elections partial referendums on the war on terror, the New York Times editorial pages collectively got their dresses over their heads in outrage.

Obama, former presidential nominee John Kerry and every other prominent Democrat of the last decade charged that Bush and, in 2008, John McCain inappropriately used patriotism as a political weapon.

And now, Obama does openly what he charged his enemies of doing through code words. And everyone's arguing about Rick Perry.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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