February 19, 2008

The sin of pride (or not)

I swear, you could set your watch by these people. Speaking in Milwaukee yesterday, Michelle Obama remarked that, "For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country." Cue conservosphere (actually it's more of a flat earth) going full bore apeshit.

Notice she said "really proud of my country." A reasonable interpretation is that Ms. Obama has always been proud of her country, but events of late have increased, or altered in some meaningful way (to her) her pride in her country. But no. The unreasonable interpretation is far more convenient: she's never been proud of her country, until now — when she got to Brewtown, no less.

The Carpetbagger Report has compiled a few of the predictable higher profile reactions here. (Incidentally, by "high profile" I mean the likes of the collection of barely literate fruitcakes afforded speech by the National Review Online, where one can accomplish the considerable feat of being both high profile and low brow at once.)

Closer to home, our own Rick Esenberg has entered the fray, mirroring almost identically the previous expressions of outrage. And even he falls for the unreasonable interpretation. Since he's a lawyer, and lawyers are trained to be especially keen deconstructors of language, then one explanation is he's falling for it deliberately.

Because Esenberg has been on a weird anti-Obama Crusade (his word, his capitalization) recently, during which he's attempted to make connections between Senator Obama and such disparate figures as Che Guevara and Jesus Christ. Perhaps he's been gripped by The Fear that John McCain will never have the opportunity to appoint a few more Scalias to the Supreme Court, and Ms. Obama's words just dropped like manna from Heaven into his waiting lap.

He enumerates a number of events from American history, and wonders aloud how Ms. Obama couldn't be proud of these achievements. Did she say she wasn't? Of course not. But since when did such subtleties — subtleties of the flying mallet variety, that is — ever discourage the tendentious galloping hordes of the fabricated outrage brigade?

Did it once occur to any of these people that notions of "patriotism" and nationalism generally are necessarily subjective and nuanced?

I know it hasn't occurred to "joe stalin," another of Esenberg's "readers" (the word is in quotes because he can't). In response to this rather bland and uncontroversial observation,
I don't know about you, but many of us don't judge "patriotism" or commitment to constitutional principles by how many flags a politician sews onto her pantsuit,
our man of steel reacts thusly:
"it said", in typical liberal fashion makes disrespect for America the Pledge of Allegience [sic] and our Flag into positives for his lib candidate. Being unpatriotic is patriotic to libs.
And I do mean "react," as in "reactionary," and I do mean "reactionary" in its least flattering sense.

My initial thoughts on seeing Esenberg's dressing down of Ms. Obama on what appears to be his perception of her lacking sufficient "pride," were of, naturally, the Bible. Why? Because Esenberg's view of, as he puts it, "politics as religion" is as something that is "dangerous." Conversely, however, Esenberg has often defended "religion as politics" as something to be encouraged; indeed, something to be admired, since religion apparently embodies all the finest morality.

More specifically, the Book of Proverbs, where the Lord is said to hate "a proud look," and to consider it an abomination. Doubtless a skilled apologist can distinguish between the Proverbial pride and an understanding of the politically correct patriotic and nationalistic pride that conservative Republicans expect and demand — from others, of course. We may see. Or not.

In the meantime, consider Obama's message of change in the light of Bush 43 administration-era "you're either with us or you're against us" false dichotomies, or Bush's bossman Richard "Deferment Dick" Cheney openly questioning the devotion to country of people who actually volunteered to fight on behalf of America in Viet Nam.

If that's the direction of change he's talking about, then I'm all for it.


grumps said...

The Rickmeister seems to have fallen under the RandOm caPItalZation SpELl that lurks in the comment threads of certain blogs.

I'll betcha he's always had a well-developed sense of pride in that, "Pride goeth before damnation and a haughty spirit before a fall," sense.

AutismNewsBeat said...

The wantwits at StopTheACLU.com edited out the word "really" from the text, then doctored the audio on Michelle Obama's video so "really" sounds like a hiccup.

AutismNewsBeat said...

WTMJ just ran a clip where Michelle Obama didn't say "really".

What's going on?

illusory tenant said...

Beats me: "We have more reaction to Michelle Obama's comment at a political rally last night in Milwaukee that — 'For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country.'" — Brit Hume.

If you can't trust Fox News, who can you trust?

illusory tenant said...

Better yet, Google adult life proud and one of the top hits reads, "'For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country,' she told a Milwaukee crowd ..."

Then, click the link (to boston.com, in this case) and you find, "'For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country,' she told a Milwaukee crowd ..."

Followed by: "UPDATE: This item was corrected from a previous version."

AutismNewsBeat said...

I think she gave two speeches, one in Madison and one in Milwaukee. It appears she said "really" in Madison, but not in Milwaukee. Her Madison speech made more sense. She was saying that she is proud, not because her husband is running for President, but because so many Americans are joining in common purpose. But she wasn't as clear on that point in Milwaukee. Probably just tired. I don't understand how anybody can talk so much in front of so many different audiences on so little sleep.

illusory tenant said...

Thanks, H-Blog. Nevertheless, it was the "really proud" version that Esenberg provided the link to,* and the one on which his commentary was based.

* LA Late, America's Fastest Growing Celebrity News Site!

Anonymous said...

IT's, um, thaumaturgic effort to parse MO's remark aside, we should yield to BO's explication: He said her newfound pride is about the political system and was not meant to disparage her country. ... "What she meant was, this is the first time that she's been proud of the politics of America," he said.

IT will have fun parsing that one. Let me give IT a hand: when your guy finds himself in a hole, the best advice you can give is, stop digging.

James Wigderson said...

Let's look at the film, shall we?