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June 24, 2005

Rove's Remarks: It's Just Too Easy

Bush is, of course, standing by Rove's statement.

Look, his statement has the unfortunate property of being true. After 9-11, many liberals, though not all, reflexively went into "why do they hate us?" mode and speculated upon the myriad ways America could change its behavior and dole out international welfare to pay terrorists off.

They were also pretty down on the whole "war" thing, and in fact often recoiled from using that word. They were in favor of a "response" to mega-terrorism, but not a "war" on mega-terrorism.

All? Of course not. Not all. Peter Beinert of TNR is and was strongly patriotic and favored a muscular military response. Christopher Hitchens -- a contrarian of the left, and yet still of the left in most ways -- was eloquent in championing America and calling for the obliteration of its enemies.

And of course not all (or even most) liberals are unpatriotic. Although it pains me to say it, I have little doubt, for example, that Aaron Sorkin, producer and writer of the West Wing and screenwriter of A Few Good Men, is quite patriotic about America. A love of America drips from his writing, even though, of course, that is love of America's potential as a liberal bastion. He's a dickhead and a crackhead, but he does love America.

And there are many, many liberals who feel similarly.

But not all. A large number of liberals -- or perhaps left-liberals, more accurately -- view America with disdain sometimes bordering on contempt sometimes bordering on outright hatred. They see America as a positive force for evil in the world, and they're not shy about saying so.

And the Democratic Party, while not endorsing such sentiments exactly, uses anti-American "code words" (you know, like those racist "code words" conservatives are chaged with using) to communicate their broad sympathy with the America-hatin' left while retaining plausible deniability.

Witness Dick Durbin. Durbin could have made his point using language that left little doubt about his love for America -- he could have simply said that America is the greatest moral force in the world, and that we should not taint ourselves by being anything less than that, even dealing with those who frankly deserve it -- but he didn't. He compared our troops to the Nazis, Soviets, and the Khmer Rouge.

I think liberals often believe there's a tension between patriotism and the capacity for an intelligent critique and healthy sketpicism about one's country. They don't feel comfortable praising America, because, they think, such praise undermines their central complaints about the American system. Many liberals feel they cannot simply say "America is the greatest country in the history of the world" without hurting their agenda for change and "progressive social justice."

But that's nonsense. Conservatives have all sorts of gripes about America -- indeed, on some days, after some Supreme Court decisions, we seem to do little else but grouse about this country -- but we have no problem declaring, as full-throatedly as possible, that despite this country's problems, it remains a beacon of freedom and hope. No matter how annoyed we might become at our government or by the PC regime which seems to run the country, we do not hesitate to praise America.

Why can't the entire left do the same? As I've said, there are many on the left who are strong patriots (even if they love a different version of an idealized America than conservatives do). Without doubt, they have what they consider to be strong complaints about America, but why is it they are so shy about declaring their love for this country, warts and all?

Until they're able to overcome this reflexive anti-patriotism, this rather hair-triggered response to perceived "jingoism," they can continue expecting conservatives -- and the voting public at large -- to question their love of country. If many liberals choke on any words of praise for America, it can hardly be surprising to them that people seem to notice this, and guess (quite rightly) that maybe many liberals despise this nation.

And they can expect some vicious parodies, too. Like The Therapist's mock-news article, in which Democrats complain that Karl Rove didn't temper his remarks by slamming American troops.


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posted by Ace at 12:07 PM

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