Obama's Patriotism

Last week, I attended a luncheon hosted by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, at which I sat next to former Navy SEAL, Leif Babin.  Among Leif's numerous and impressive accomplishments is his completion of three tours in Iraq, earning a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and a Purple Heart.  Not only was I proud to have an opportunity to talk with one of our nation's heroes, but I was in awe of his bravery, candor, and pride in serving our great country.  Leif is a true patriot.

Upon my return to my office, I read of the repulsive comments of liberal radio show host Bill Press, calling the national anthem "stupid" and stating, "I'm embarrassed, I'm embarrassed every time I hear it."  This abhorrent garbage followed on the heels of the news of a New York City elementary school principal who prohibited kindergarteners from singing "God Bless the USA" at their graduation ceremony, replacing it with Justin Bieber's "Baby."  After drawing national attention, the Bieber song was also dropped from the event, but the NYC Schools chancellor refused to reinstate the singing of "USA," which includes the following lyrics:

And I'm proud to be an American,
where at least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

But above and beyond these shameful examples, it is Obama who exemplifies the lack of patriotism on the left.  The first sign that Obama's sentiments regarding the "Star Spangled Banner" might mirror those of left-wing nut Press can be seen in a video clip from 2007, in which candidate Obama did not place his hand over his heart during the singing of the national anthem, while every other honored guest did so.  And the total body of evidence to support this theory is vast.

From Michelle Obama's pronouncement that she was never proud of her country until her husband won the nomination to Obama's declaration that America is no more exceptional than any other country in the world, a sense of pride in being an American is missing from the White House these days.  A man who is proud to be an American would not traverse the globe apologizing for America's transgressions.  A leader with love of country would not announce his intent to "fundamentally transform" America rather than pursue an agenda of furthering the good the country has brought to the world.  And a patriotic American would no less sit in the pews of a hate-spewing reverend who cries out "God damn America" and "America's chickens are coming home to roost" after the tragedies of 9/11 than he would bow to a Saudi king, hug Islamist Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan, and embrace dictator Hugo Chávez.

Just this month, Obama's silence in the face of historic events has supported the theory that he cares little about being an American or representing its exceptional values on the world stage.  While many Americans recognized the anniversary of D-Dayi, Obama was...where else?  Campaigning.  And on June 14, Flag Day, Obama spent the day in Ohio, delivering a much-touted campaign speech (described as "one of the worst speeches" he's ever made), before jettisoning off to NYC for two more Hollywood fundraisers.  Conspicuously absent on Flag Day was any mention by Obama of the Stars and Stripesii.

The dichotomy between the patriotism that exuded from the Bush administration and the lack thereof from the current one is extraordinary.  Bush's legacy will forever be wrapped in the War on Terror, which he declared in his September 12, 2001 speech:

The deliberate and deadly attacks, which were carried out yesterday against our country, were more than acts of terror. They were acts of war.

This will require our country to unite in steadfast determination and resolve. Freedom and democracy are under attack. The American people need to know we're facing a different enemy than we have ever faced.


This will be a monumental struggle of good versus evil, but good will prevail.

In stark contrast, this is how candidate Obama described his reaction to 9/11:

You know, the truth is that right after 9/11, I had a [flag] pin. Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we're talking about the Iraq war, that became a substitute for, I think, true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security, I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest; instead I'm gonna try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism [emphasis mine].iii

Apparently, Obama believes the liberal argument that dissent is the highest form of patriotism -- unless the dissent comes from the Tea Party, in which case Obama labels such individuals "teabaggers" while his vice president likens them to terrorists.  Obama failed to see the irony of banning the terms "global war on terror," "terror," "Islamic extremism," and "jihad" from the White House lexicon while degrading the exercise of free speech by Americans.

Or the irony that his "testimony" to what he believes "will make this country great" begins at waving white flags as he prematurely withdrew our troops from Iraq and simultaneously announced the date for withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan while ordering the surge.  In an Obama world, winning means four more years in the White House, not the triumph of good over evil.

The contrast between Bush 43 and Obama can also be seen in images of Bush working with wounded warriors and welcoming home troops returning from battle -- images taken not simply as a photo op or for selfish gain, but out of a heartfelt desire to spend time with, and boost the morale of, those who have given to the country in order for the rest of us to remain free.  Obama's retirement years will likely be spent playing basketball with his NBA buddies, dining with his Hollywood supporters, and going on record-breaking numbers of golf outings.

The recent national security leaks emanating from the administration are further testimony to Obama's idea of patriotism -- "what will make the country great" is four more years of...me.  In a WSJ op-ed entitled "Obama exploits the Navy Seals," Babin explained that when government officials reveal special operations secrets for political gain, they are endangering our forces in the process.  He stated:

Such disclosures are catastrophic to U.S. intelligence networks, which often take years to develop. Recklessness not only puts lives at risk but could set U.S. intelligence-collection efforts back decades.


It is infuriating to see political gain put above the safety and security of our brave warriors and our long-term strategic goals. Loose lips sink ships.

But apparently, Obama believes that loose lips win second terms -- the collateral damage in the form of U.S. respect, relationships with allies, and the lives of those who work in the intelligence community and our military be damned.  Unlike the "promise of something bigger than oneself" and the "culture of excellence and selflessness that attracts young men to the Ranger brotherhood," as described by Army Ranger Stephen Kilcullen, the commander-in-chief exhibits a sense of brotherhood only when playing hoops, hitting the links, or raising money with the rich and famous.

And who are these rich and famous people with whom Obama has chosen to surround himself?  Under normal circumstances, they would find themselves ostracized from civil society, but not on the two left coasts, where the likes of Michael Moore, Sean Penn, Bill Maher, Jeanine Garafolo, Joy Behar, and others are found regularly bashing America in between stints of donating money to the Obama re-election campaign.  While Gary Sinese takes his Lt. Dan Band on tour "rockin' for the troops" and conservative rock band Madison Rising performs its powerful rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner," MoveOn.org renames General Petraeus "General Betray Us," HBO executives are forced to pull a show in which GWB's decapitated head is impaled, and the Obama administration gives "extremely close, unprecedented and potentially dangerous collaboration" to producers of a film on the bin Laden raid.

One can safely surmise that what lured Obama to high office was not patriotism.  And some would argue that his behavior is instead traitorous as he divulges classified information to our enemies.  But it is clear that until Obama is replaced with someone who respects the Constitution, the military, and the principles on which our great nation was founded, his "testimony" to patriotism is leaving us all in peril.

iRonald Reagan's commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the invasion at Normandy, D-Day, is one of his most memorable speeches.

iiFull disclosure: As required by Congressional resolution, on June 12, the president did fulfill his obligation to issue an official proclamation calling for the observance of Flag Day.

iiiIn his article, Stanley Renshon did a terrific job of taking apart Obama's argument:

In so saying, the senator appeared to be elevating his patriotism above those who wear flag pins as reflections of their supportive feelings about the country. How else to understand the juxtaposition of what he called "true patriotism" with the pin as a symbol of support for the war that "became a substitute for true patriotism"?

This explanation becomes somewhat curious, however, when you remember that flag pins became common after Sept. 11, 2001, as a public show of solidarity with our country and fellow Americans who had been traumatized by the terror attacks.

The Iraq war did not begin until March of 2003, 18 months later. So it seems unlikely that many pin wearers began their symbolic display to support a war that hadn't yet begun.

The premise of the senator's explanation is, however, a familiar one: that speaking out, as he has done against the war, is "true patriotism." Certainly dissent is important, and it's both the right and the privilege of all Americans. However, equating it with true patriotism is like comparing dating with a good marriage.

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