It's not the first attack on McCain's service:
Democrats have belittled it on several occasions now. In May, it was Bill Gillespie, another Obama backer in Georgia and a candidate for the House. In the same month, Senator Tom Harkin questioned McCain’s mental state for having willingly served in the military. In April, Jay Rockefeller accused McCain of being more or less a coward for being a military pilot, and again in May the New York Times quoted unnamed Senate colleagues of McCain suggesting that he didn’t understand the Vietnam War because he didn’t fight on the ground and spent most of it lounging around Hanoi in a POW camp.
Whoever is behind this strategy, it is idiotic and will backfire. Bringing up McCain's service at all makes Obama look bad. I'm sure I'm not the only American who has thought, "Who the hell is this leftist sissy to send out surrogates to attack McCain's military service?"
Is partisan revenge driving this smear campaign? The Swiftboat attack on Kerry was a phenomenal success that, as much as anything, defeated Kerry. The Democrats have not forgotten it and they desperately want to do the same thing to McCain. I suppose it would be too much for them to grasp that McCain and Kerry had rather different war experiences. McCain spent six years as a POW. Kerry spent a few months in Vietnam, then came back to America to throw away his medals, lie about US atrocities and compare our fighting men to Genghis Khan.
But don't question Kerry's patriotism. Sure, he made anti-American statements, but... look, just don't mention it. The rules are that any unpatriotic statements or gestures by any Democrat must not be identified. Do not say that the Emperor's dick is hanging out for all to see. If every last one of us does not evade reality, then we're "questioning patriotism," which must not be done.
Obama has laid down the rules in his speech:
I will never question the patriotism of others in this campaign. And I will not stand idly by when I hear others question mine.
He won't question the patriotism of a man who served in Vietnam and spent six years as a POW. That's awfully big of Obama. In return, any mention of the following is off limits: Obama's communist father; his communist mentor, Frank Marshall Davis; his terrorist friends, William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn; his days as a "community organizer," which some define as a leftist rabble rouser; his 20-year relationship with spiritual mentor and anti-American preacher, Jeremiah Wright; his teaching the ideas of leftist radical Saul Alinski; his wife's anti-American statements; his flag pin controversy; his reluctance to hold his hand over his heart during the National Anthem. Bringing up any of these could come under heading, "questioning his patriotism." It's not a bad deal for Obama.
But his high-mindedness is specious because he has questioned the patriotism of others:
...during the flag lapel pin flap, Obama said this:
"A party that presided over a war in which our troops did not get the body armor they needed, or were sending troops over who were untrained because of poor planning, or are not fulfilling the veterans’ benefits that these troops need when they come home, or are undermining our Constitution with warrantless wiretaps that are unnecessary?
"That is a debate I am very happy to have. We’ll see what the American people think is the true definition of patriotism."
Questioning one's patriotism is a horrible smear -- unless a Democrat questions a Republican's. Then it is valid.
The patriotism of leftists is questioned because they are unpatriotic. It's not like evil Republicans fabricate the issue out of thin air. If there were nothing there, the charges would not be so effective.
The whole patriotism issue is based on the more fundamental issue of leftist anti-Americanism, which is based on the yet more fundamental issues of leftist anti-capitalism, which is caused by leftist altruism, statism and collectivism. These are based on the more philosophical premises of moral relativism and subjectivism. Of course, political campaigns never focus on underlying philosophy, but on relatively trivial and symbolic subjects such as flag pins.
The shallowness of our political discussion works to the liberals' advantage. Obama can stop reasonable doubts about him with lines like:
...at certain times over the last sixteen months, I have found, for the first time, my patriotism challenged - at times as a result of my own carelessness, more often as a result of the desire by some to score political points and raise fears about who I am and what I stand for.
Instead of having to confront difficult, legitimate questions about leftist anti-Americanism and his life-long relations with communists and other radicals, Obama can dismiss it all as the patriotism issue. What a deal! Democrats must secretly wish another Joseph McCarthy would come along so they could make it all about him and deflect criticism from their candidate altogether.
Aside from Obama's defense of his patriotism, the rest of his speech on America is rather mediocre, welfare state boilerplate. Powerline has noted the gaffes that would make headlines if said by a Republican. After all of Obama's flip-flops and disassociating with long-time allies that become controversial, his words have little weight.
The implication of the speech's title, "The America We Love," is that there is another America we do not love, one we must never forget, even when we praise our country. Moral relativism won't let leftists think of America as essentially good; it has its good and bad, and neither is more important than the other. Obama, feeling magnanimous with the Fourth of July coming, focuses for the moment on America's greatness, but also notes the bad side for all his liberal friends who are uncomfortable with all that barbaric flag waving.
Obama equates patriotism with sacrifice to the state.
...the call to sacrifice for the country's greater good remains an imperative of citizenship. Sadly, in recent years, in the midst of war on two fronts, this call to service never came. After 9/11, we were asked to shop. The wealthiest among us saw their tax obligations decline, even as the costs of war continued to mount.
Obama sees 9/11 as a missed opportunity to expand the power of the state at the individual's expense. The "call to sacrifice" is the call of those in power to make the people voluntarily enslave themselves to the state. Those in power have nothing to lose from this! All the statists need is for people to accept the altruist premise that selfishness is bad. 2,000 years of Christianity make this a widespread idea in the West.
Obama expands on his vision of a new American slavery, a vision he shares with McCain:
In spite of this absence of leadership from Washington, I have seen a new generation of Americans begin to take up the call. I meet them everywhere I go, young people involved in the project of American renewal; not only those who have signed up to fight for our country in distant lands, but those who are fighting for a better America here at home, by teaching in underserved schools, or caring for the sick in understaffed hospitals, or promoting more sustainable energy policies in their local communities.
I believe one of the tasks of the next Administration is to ensure that this movement towards service grows and sustains itself in the years to come. We should expand AmeriCorps and grow the Peace Corps. We should encourage national service by making it part of the requirement for a new college assistance program...
Before long, no one but the children of the very rich would be able to afford college without suffering two years of servitude to the state. This is the moral ideal that excites Obama as the nation is about to celebrate Independence Day -- a holiday that originally celebrated the opposite of Obama's vision.
Obama is something of an undistinguished cipher. Geraldine Ferraro, though reviled by the left, was right when she stated the obvious fact that he got the nomination because he is black. Ideologically, Obama is just the latest mediocre representative of the collectivist counter-revolution to the American Revolution. The American Revolution stood for the Enlightenment values of individual rights, liberty and prosperity. The counter-revolution stands for collectivism, statism and sacrifice.