He has inspired hope, promised change and debated race. He has even
turned the Pennsylvania primary into more of a contest by hitting the
details that matter to people, says Time’s Joe Klein.
But there was still something missing. I noticed it
during Obama’s response to a young man who remembered how the country
had come together after Sept. 11 and lamented “the dangerously low
levels of patriotism and pride in our country, the loss of faith in our
elected officials.” Obama used this, understandably, to go after George
W. Bush. “Cynicism has become the hot stock,” he said, “the growth
industry during the Bush Administration.” He talked about the
Administration’s mendacity, its incompetence during Hurricane Katrina,
its lack of transparency. But he never returned to the question of
patriotism. He never said, “But hey, look, we’re Americans. This is the
greatest country on earth. We’ll rise to the occasion.”
Good point. People want to think he believes that, so it would help if started saying that.
Here’s another good point…
This is a chronic disease among Democrats, who tend to
talk more about what’s wrong with America than what’s right. When
Ronald Reagan touted “Morning in America” in the 1980s, Dick Gephardt
famously countered that it was near midnight “and getting darker all
the time.” This is ironic and weirdly self-defeating…
This candidate has been about change, and he has faced several
challenges so far to live up to it within his own campaign. Time will
tell how he solves the problem of patriotism. Hopefully.