Look who is questioning patriotism now. After nearly two years of the political left whining about the political right questioning their patriotism, the left has picked up the anti-patriotic cudgel to use against Republicans.
Exhibit A is Howard Dean's recent remark, "John Ashcroft is not a patriot. John Ashcroft is a descendant of Joseph McCarthy." This remark is far worse than anything any politician on the right has purportedly said. Dean is not just questioning Ashcroft's patriotism, he's categorically denying that it exists. That the leading contender for the Democratic nomination for president can largely get away with making such comments also speaks to media bias. Were John Ashcroft to say, "Howard Dean is not a patriot," the media would…well, I don't really need to finish that sentence.
This notion of patriotism-questioning is largely the product of the left's desire to claim victim status as a gambit to gain the political high-ground in the debate on the War on Terrorism. With the exception of some zealots like Ann Coulter, right-wing pundits have been fairly circumspect in playing the patriotism card. Nevertheless, it has not stopped the likes of Hillary Clinton from engaging in shrill histrionics.
Nor has it stopped New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. In a column from September, he railed that President Bush "impugns the patriotism of anyone who questions his decisions." Krugman's example? Not surprisingly, he didn't offer one. Nevertheless, Krugman feels we should all be increasingly alarmed at the Bush Administration because -- in addition to its reckless tax cuts, huge deficit, war profiteering, and needless war on Iraq -- it bashes its opponents patriotism every chance it gets.
Which leads us to exhibit B. In last Friday's column Krugman had a field day with the evolving Wilson-Plame scandal. "Unlike the self-described patriots now running America," Krugman wrote, "Mr. Wilson has taken personal risks for the sake of his country." Regarding Wilson's opposition to the war to liberate Iraq, Krugman states: "Many patriots in the military and the intelligence community agreed with him then; even more agree now." Got that? Those in the Bush Administration are patriots in only their own eyes. A true patriot is defined by one's opposition to the war on Iraq. What was that about impugning the patriotism of those who disagree with you?
Krugman then proceeds to lecture us about what the definition of patriotic is: "the true test of patriotism isn't whether you are willing to wave the flag, or agree with whatever the president says. It's whether you are willing to take risks and make sacrifices, including political sacrifices, for the sake of your country." While that definition is about accurate, Krugman is completely oblivious to the fact that by implying patriotism is defined by opposing the Iraq war he has imposed a false test of patriotism on President Bush. He is also unaware that he is making a case that President Bush is very patriotic. Given his recent slide in the polls, Bush's decision to invade Iraq is turning out to be a political sacrifice made for the sake of his country.
The irony is so thick you can practically choke on it. Politicos on one side of the ideological spectrum howl at the top of their lungs about the largely non-existent use of a political tactic by the other side. Yet, when that same side sees the first opening to use that same political tactic, they exploit it to the hilt.
Krugman noted in his column that "The hypocrisy here is breathtaking." Indeed it is.