As we come to our annual national birthday, our love of country takes a variety of expressions. For many, July 4th is simply an excuse for a party: hot dogs, apple pies, red white and blue tablecloths and beer specials at the local Wal-Mart.
For others, it is a chance to reflect on the majesty of our history and diverse culture—a chance to look back on our past to envision our possible futures. And still for others, unfortunately, it is simply a time of pride. Yes, I use the word “unfortunate” when comes to mindless American pride, for as anyone knows who has read much of the Bible: “Pride goeth before the fall.”
Recently, in their continuing effort to demonize Obama, mainstream media latched onto a comment by his wife, Michelle, concerning pride in America. Even though the quip was made back in February, lacking sufficient current avenue to blacken his image, the GOP and their propagandists (otherwise known as network news) have gone back to dredge up a speech in Milwaukee where Michelle Obama said, “People in this country are ready for change and hungry for a different kind of politics and … for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.”
Obviously the remarks of a terrible, terrible person, deserving immediate rebuke. That condemnation came quickly enough from the most appropriate of channels, the wife of Republican candidate, Cindy McCain. Two days after Michelle Obama’s quip, Cindy McCain stepped up to dutifully chastise her by exclaiming that she, Cindy McCain, was ALWAYS proud of America. This, of course, forces us to ask the question:
Is Cindy McCain oblivious to the point of being brain-dead, or is she simply lying? Chances are that both Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain were making ill considered overstatements, ignoring both the good and the evil that have made American history since there has been an America to make history.
Having been born in 1955, Cindy McCain is old enough to have experienced half a century of American history first hand and not all of it was joyous. Was she proud at 8 years old when her president was gunned down on a Dallas city street? Was she proud both when Johnson used the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution to launch the war which would make her husband a POW for five years and then equally proud when the whole thing was shown to be based on a lie?
How proud did Iran-Contra make her, when our leaders were caught secretly selling weapons to our sworn enemies to fund an illegal war half way around the world against a democratically elected government where our allies were led by drug dealers who in fact used US military airplanes to smuggle cocaine into the US? Which part made her prouder, when Oliver North was imprisoned or when Bush 41 pardoned North, who would go on to run for senator claiming to have a record that demonstrated his love and pride of country.
Or what about the S & L scandal of 1980s where President Bush’s brother Neil was one of the leading bankers in a fraud that cost first consumers, then a federal bailout, over half a trillion dollars? Or how about, on a more personal note: how proud was she when the results of that S&L scandal led to the Senate Ethics Committee condemning five senators including her husband for obstructing an investigation into Charles Keating’s Lincoln S&L which bilked the American public to the tune of more than three billion dollars
Or later, in 1994, how proud was she of America when she herself was accused of being a drug addict and having the whistleblower who drew attention to it fired to shut him up? Was she proud of the way Americans cheered then candidate Bush as he trashed his then opponent McCain’s reputation and painted him as a dangerous PTSD whack-job?
Curious yesterday, while on a street corner protesting for impeachment with a couple of freshly minted high school graduates, I asked them about their pride in America. They said that over the last 8 years they’d had little to be proud of except those protesting against Bush policies. Once upon a time, that number used to include John McCain. Was Cindy as proud of him then as she is now?
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of Arizona