If other countries around the world do hate America, I figured out today why; competitive-eating contests. The fact that there even IS an International Federation of Competitive Eating tells me the outcry over rising food prices should be ignored just awhile longer. Granted, other countries are obviously involved in this international body, but scarf-and-barf contests have been part of county fairs across America for decades.
Oh well, at least an American won the Nathan's hot dog eating contest this year.
The way our presidential race is going, I'm surprised Barack Obama and John McCain didn't show up at the event. Hell, maybe that would be a better way to settle the event than the way they're going.
While no one is seriously questioning McCain's patriotism, that seems to be one of the tacts being taken by some conservative voices. Obama has opened himself to a laundry list of allegations:
* I used to think his alleged refusal to hold his hand over his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance was largely derived from this photo taken during a campaign stop in Iowa last year. But then I found this video, where he stands for the duration of (a truly awful rendition of) the National Anthem, and I realize he made a conscious decision to not place his hand over his heart. I usually just fold my hands, but Obama is the only one on the stage who didn't get the memo.
* Michelle Obama said repeatedly that for the first time in her adult life, she was proud of her country for voting for her husband. ... I'm willing to cut her some slack if only because she's not the public speaker, Barack is. She's just a hospital administrator. A six-figure income earner who ... has actually complained about America's private sector for much of her adult life, all the while enjoying the advantages it's afforded her. Hmm.
* Jeremiah Wright, Obama's pastor of 20 years and his self-described "spiritual mentor", and Michael Pfleger, still serve on the Obama campaign's spirital advisory committee. If one's character can be judged by the company he keeps, then the hateful speech spewed forth by these two clowns should be enough to keep Obama out of the White House.
* Obama's refusal to wear a flag lapel pin has been a biggie with the conservative talkers. To me, it was easily dismissable had he simply said he'd forgotten to wear it that day and "to me, the real issue is how can we put forth patriotic legislation rather than worry about whether someone is just wearing the right uniform."
But no. He went into this pseudo-intellectual justification for how he felt the lapel pin had become a substitute for true patriotism, an explanation that did little to assuage the elitist persona he's been cultivating. It's an image that's been fertilized by his San Francisco speech in which he asserted that only bitter small-town Midwesterners would "cling" to guns and religion and antipathy toward people who aren't like them.
I'm even willing to cut him slack about that, in assuming he meant that when people have lost hope, they "cling" to their core beliefs. (Even though he happened to pick red-state red meat that often is cocktail party fodder among the liberal intelligentsia.)
I have two problems with what Obama's talking about here; one political and one personal.
One, I think Obama might be too smart for his own good here. Much like in 2004, when John Kerry gave some head-scratching answers involving "blind double-regressive studies" of something-or-other, I don't think most people have the time or patience to sit through some long-winded explanation of the finer points of Obama's thought processes.
Secondly, symbolism means a lot, which is something every campaigner knows. Obama apparently has figured that out too since Lapel Gate broke, as he not only wears a lapel pin from time to time, but he always appears in front of a row of American flags standing sentry at his campaign events. And isn't it even why he drew up his own pseudo-presidential seal?
So much for his principled stand.
Sometimes all Americans need is reassurance that you have their best interests at heart. Smile and a wave at the cameras? Check. Pressed suit and a power tie? Check. Carefully orchestrated campaign stops and speeches with the right mix of people in the background to assure as many demographics as possible that you're looking out for them too? Check. Wear a tiny symbol proudly on your chest to assure us that you too remember 9/11, even if it's to criticize the policies that may have led to that terrible September day? ... We'll get back to you on that one.