I'm always amused when I read snobbish ruminations like this one, denouncing the victory of Southern/Southwestern culture over the effete East.
The coarsened sensibility that this now-dominant Southernism and frontierism has brought to our national dialogue is unmistakable. We must endure "lapel-pin politics" that elevates the shallowest sort of faux jingoism over who's got a better plan for Iraq and Afghanistan. We have re-imported creationism into our political dialogue (in the form of "intelligent design"). Hillary Clinton panders shamelessly to Roman Catholics, who have allied with Southern Protestant evangelicals on questions of morality, with anti-abortionism serving as the main bridge. Barack Obama seems to be so leery of being identified as an urban Northern liberal that he's running away from the most obvious explanation of his association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and former Weatherman Bill Ayers: after Obama graduated from college he became an inner-city organizer in Chicago, and they were natural allies for someone in a situation like that. We routinely demonize organizations like the United Nations that we desperately need and which are critical to missions like nation-building in Afghanistan. On foreign policy, the realism and internationalism of the Eastern elitist tradition once kept the Southern-frontier warrior culture and Wilsonian messianism in check. Now the latter two, in toxic combination, have taken over our national dialogue, and the Easterners are running for the hills.
Obama's a smart guy. If his associations with bigot Wright and terrorist Ayers were merely business, he would have said so up front. Likewise, it was his apparent disdain for wearing an American flag that got him in hot water on that front.
It's always interesting watching the Left explode when their candidates falter over questions of association and patriotism. The truth is that they are uncomfortable with displays of patriotism, whether it's a flag pin, "God Bless America," or backing American foreign policy.
I'm not saying they aren't patriotic. I'm saying they don't like showing it. Maybe this is a bit like those Christians who don't like to talk about their faith. Don't question it! It's in their heads and hearts, not on their sleeves.
The snobbery of Michael Hirsch's piece shows how he just doesn't get it. Like Obama's "bitter" speech, Hirsch's "we don't allow free speech like the founding fathers did" sounds whiny and obtuse. The fact that we have so much free speech is Obama's problem. Why? Because he can't frame the exact image of his candidacy that he wishes without pesky side issues like patriotism and radicalism leaking through. Because of the freedom of the blogosphere and the flourishing of free speech, Obama is forced to confront unpleasant topics and not allowed to ignore them as he would like. If thinking values and beliefs matter in a presidential candidate is Southern, then I'm happy to be Southern.