Another Liberal Attack on Republican Patriotism
Frank Rich used his usual super-sized Sunday column for The Week in Review to boost Obama after his State of the Union - and to again smear Republicans as unpatriotic - "The State of the Union Is Comatose." Rich called John McCain part of "the unpatriotic opposition" for making a face when Obama unleashed yet another attack on his predecessor President George W. Bush.
Hands down, the State of the Union's big moment was Barack Obama's direct hit on the delicate sensibilities of the Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. The president was right to blast the 5-to-4 decision giving corporate interests an even greater stranglehold over a government they already regard as a partially owned onshore subsidiary. How satisfying it was to watch him provoke Alito into a "You lie!" snit. Here was a fight we could believe in.
There was more to admire in Obama's performance as well. He did not retreat into the bite-size initiatives - V-chips, school uniforms - embraced by an emasculated Bill Clinton after his midterm pummeling of 1994. The president's big original goals - health care, economic recovery, financial reform - remained nominally intact, as did his sense of humor. In a rhetorical touch William Safire would have relished, Obama had the wit to rush the ritualistic "our union is strong" so it would not prompt the usual jingoistic ovation.
If Reid can serve as the face of Democratic fecklessness in the Senate, then John McCain epitomizes the unpatriotic opposition. On Wednesday night he could be seen sneering when Obama pointed out that most of the debt vilified by Republicans happened on the watch of a Republican president and Congress that never paid for "two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program." The president's indictment could have been more lacerating.
Such hypocrisy is nothing new for Rich. He made a similar attack in a column published almost exactly one year ago:
The crisis is at least as grave as the one that confronted us - and, for a time, united us - after 9/11. Which is why the antics among Republicans on Capitol Hill seem so surreal. These are the same politicians who only yesterday smeared the patriotism of any dissenters from Bush's ''war on terror.'' Where is their own patriotism now that economic terror is inflicting far more harm on their constituents than Saddam Hussein's nonexistent W.M.D.?