Cindy McCain took Michelle Obama to task a couple of weeks ago over Ms. Obama's now-infamous comment, "for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country." Ms. McCain, it turns out, "always [has] been and will always be extremely proud of my country." Today must have been a particularly heart-bursting day for Cindy, as the following events were reported:
The new FISA bill passed, with immunity to telecommunications companies for the warrantless searches they performed on George W. Bush's and Alberto Gonzalez's say-so. Not only have new frontiers in warrantless surveillance been opened, there is no recourse for anyone who had their phones or emails illegally captured. Not that it mattered. In a classically Bushian Catch-22, previous suits were denied because no one could prove they'd been harmed; the personal communications illegally obtained are classified, and not available to the plaintiff. Democrats rolled over for what presidential candidate Barack Obama called a compromise; it was, if you consider it a compromise to re-position yourself so your new prison friend, Bubba the Shower Freak, doesn't have to lean over too much.
In other news, we learned the office of Vice President Dick "Prince of Darkness" Cheney excised several pages from the Congressional testimony of Centers for Disease Control Director Julie Gerberding that indicated the CDC considers climate change a serious public health concern. This, in turn, affected EPA policy that depended on the CDC's conclusions. Even that wasn't enough; the White House refused to open the email that contained the finding that would have required the EPA to take action, apparently using the principle, "If we didn't read it, it didn’t happen." This is not unlike a child plugging his ears and chanting, "lalalalalalalalalalala" when Mom tells him it's time for a bath. (The shunned email was actually reported last week, but it relevant to this story, and we should all be damned proud of it, too.)
It's not just politicians we can be proud of. The workers' paradise of Communist China raised wages to almost a buck an hour last year, and made it harder for employers to cheat people out of it. American companies doing business in China warned them against such rash actions; the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai straight-out opposed them. Now much of that business has moved to Vietnam, where the Communist government knows how to treat business, primarily by refusing to coddle its workers like those touchy-feely Chinese. Vietnam was chosen over Thailand, where wages are similar, because "Communism means more stability." As the Washington Post's Harold Meyerson points out, we have 58,000 names on a wall downtown, each one representing someone who died to keep Vietnam from becoming Communist. Our failure made their sacrifices no less significant. Only a bottom-line mentality at all costs can do that.
The presidential campaign promises to keep us bursting with pride, no matter who wins. Barack Obama and John McCain brought their kneepads with them to yesterday's separate appearances before the League of United Latin American Citizens. It was like a limbo contest for groveling: how low can you go? Obama won, mainly because he had too big a lead from his previous statement that, while immigrants should learn to speak English, we should learn to speak Spanish. He went on to say we should all learn to speak several languages; that's what the campaign will point out. It's disingenuous; his intended audience stopped listening after "make sure your child can speak Spanish."
There is a lot of good in this country. The blind fealty to the divine rights and infallibility of Americans that began with the Reagan Administration does those good things no honor through its avoidance of admitting anything less than noble. Anyone who can look you in the eye and claim to be unreservedly proud of everything done in the United States, or in its name, has a curious definition of "pride," and is someone on whom you should never turn your back.