The Audacity of Pride

“People in this country are ready for change and hungry for a different kind of politics and … for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.”

– Michelle Obama, Monday

For the most part, I think that everybody is being a little hard on Michelle Obama.

Michelle Obama is not a professional politician. She has been consistently out on the road with her life in upheaval for more than a year now. Every day brings a new speaking engagement, every speaking engagement brings a new crowd — and lately, those crowds have been getting bigger and bigger, louder and louder. Perhaps, too, the feeling of being married to the relatively unexpected frontrunner for the Democratic party nomination, combined with the rush of a passionate crowd and the effect of unending and unconditional praise, brings with it a sense that anything can be said, anything can be done. Under such conditions, a mistake is inevitable.

One happened Monday.

I’d like to believe that her words were not meant literally. I’d like to believe that the same woman who had been given opportunity at Harvard and Harvard Law and who, at 44 years of age, may very well be the next first lady of the United States would not take for granted the United States of America and everything for which She stands. I certainly hope that Michelle Obama, as intelligent as she may be, would not be so selfish as to think that her husband’s success somehow overshadows everything else that could foster pride in this great nation — from putting a man on the moon, to leading the world in medical and technological advancements, to being directly responsible to the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe.

The thing is, such an outlook on life and on America is nothing new for liberals. Regardless of the true intent behind Michelle Obama’s words, the idea that the endless accomplishments of America can be trumped by the actions of one administration or another is a hallmark of the “Blame America First” crowd. Instead of giving credit where credit is due, instead of building with optimism, these people have no qualms about tearing down America while, at the same time, worshipping the ground that dictators like Fidel Castro (adios!), Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad walk on.

I don’t get it. It frustrates me. I don’t understand how someone can go through life so pessimistic about everything, so jaded that they cannot see the forest through the trees. I don’t understand how anyone can overlook the generosity and greatness of this nation simply because they do not agree with the man in the Oval Office. When Bill Clinton was cow-tipping with his pants down in the Oval Office study, I was absolutely horrified and embarrassed for our country — but I could never say that I wasn’t proud of America. When George W. Bush staunchly engaged in debate in favor of Sen. John McCain’s disgusting shamnesty bill, I was absolutely livid, but never lost sight of the pride I have in America.

To say things like “I am finally proud of my country” and “we can finally hope again” is tantamount to expressing your feeling that you have never been proud of America, that there has somehow been a dearth of hope. This couldn’t be further from the truth, and this sentiment and perspective is the reason that many liberals refuse to engage in substantive debate, that many more express their opinions by shouting it from the back of town hall and committee meetings.

I do think that people are being too hard on Mrs. Obama. I do hope that she does not feel as her statement suggests. There is no excuse for overlooking the sacrifices made and the blood spilled for the sake of this country; there is no excuse for dismissing the good we do for the entire world. Her husband, for all of his many, many faults, has been different than many of the liberal politicians in that he speaks routinely of the greatness of America — I sincerely hope, given that she will undoubtedly be a fixture in American politics for years to come, that Michelle Obama finds a way to realize that advocating change for the road ahead does not require diminishing the route taken in the past.

“The day will come when no one is left who knew them, when no visitor to this cemetery can stand before a grave remembering a face and a voice. The day will never come when America forgets them. Our nation and the world will always remember what they did here and what they gave here for the future of humanity.”

– George W. Bush, May 27, 2002, Normandy, France

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