Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Old Glory

Yes, it did bother me when I read that Clark backs a constitutional amendment banning flag desecration. This is not the burning (ha ha) issue of the day by a long shot, but it is troublesome that he fails what I will dub the "Bartlett" test; meaning that unlike West Wing president Josiah Bartlett, Clark apparently fails to share all my opinions on all things, including such a no-brainer as flag burning. It wasn't Bartlett, but another Aaron Sorkin creation, President Michael Douglas of that fine filmThe American President who said
America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You've gotta want it bad, cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say, "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours." You want to claim this land as the land of the free? The symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the land of the free.

And anyway, isn't this the Clark that tells us we were going to take back "patriotism" from those that tell us it does not include the dissenters and the questioners?

Yes, I know he was talking to veterans when he advocated the amendment, and if I were talking to a room full of adorable old men who had risked their lives for our nation, I would probably join the NRA and jiggle in a racy USO dancer get-up if it would make them happy. But Clark is the one guy who could maybe change their minds about certain cherished opinions that go beyond flag-burning. Maybe it's too much to expect from a life-long military man, that he toe the liberal line on flag desecration. But I don't think it's too much to expect from a democratic nominee for president who has the unique opportunity to bring his military peers into the wide embrace of our commie-lovin', flag burnin' arms.


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