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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Patriotic Attacks: Last Refuge of a Losing Candidate

In the heat of battle is seems any attack is inbounds. Recall back to 2002, when Max Cleland, a Vietnam vet who lost portions of his right arm and most of his legs in combat duty had his patriotism questioned because he dared to suggest there might be problems with the Patriot Act. Cleland would lose that race.

This past week, incumbent John Doolittle attacked Charlie Brown, his Democratic opponent for his patriotism. Charlie Brown not only fought in Vietnam but served for 26 years in the Air Force. Brown’s wife Jan also served in the Air Force. And their son, Jeff is an Air Force captain who will begin a fourth tour of duty in Iraq in December. How dare, John Doolittle attack Brown’s patriotism, HOW DARE HE.
Charlie Brown called Republican Rep. John Doolittle a coward who is "hiding behind the flag" and slammed him for failing to serve in Vietnam.

"While I was being shot at in Vietnam, John Doolittle was practicing his tennis game at (the University of California) Santa Cruz," Brown said during a news conference as he was surrounded by fellow veterans.
Meanwhile Doolittle attacks Brown for being linked to anti-war activists like Code Pink, Cindy Sheehan, and Sean Penn.

The writer Samuel Johnson once wrote that “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Johnson was not indicting patriotism in general, but false patriotism. What is false patriotism? Acting as though the only way to be patriotic is to back wars even as they are clearly going awry. Attacking the patriotism of brave veterans while at the time of were you were safely ensconced in your privileged life. False patriotism is pretending that the words of the constitution read, “my country right or wrong.”

Folks, we need to see through these facades of patriotism and realize that true patriotism is about honor, sacrifice, and principles. We should not sacrifice those principles at the alter of expediency or under of the false guise of national security. We need honest debates about the direction and leadership of this country. And we need to honor our brave war heroes with the praise that deserve whether we agree or disagree with their viewpoint. Much has been lost in this country, much of that that has been lost has been decency and respect. Brave people like Charlie Brown are again answering the call of our country to help win it back. We need to help him do so.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting