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Obama's Patriotism Speech

Barack Obama is giving a speech about patriotism -- "The America We Love" -- in Independence, Mo. The speech, as prepared for delivery, follows the jump:

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama
The America We Love - as prepared for delivery
Monday, June 30th, 2008
Independence, Missouri

On a spring morning in April of 1775, a simple band of colonists - farmers and merchants, blacksmiths and printers, men and boys - left their homes and families in Lexington and Concord to take up arms against the tyranny of an Empire. The odds against them were long and the risks enormous - for even if they survived the battle, any ultimate failure would bring charges of treason, and death by hanging.

And yet they took that chance. They did so not on behalf of a particular tribe or lineage, but on behalf of a larger idea. The idea of liberty. The idea of God-given, inalienable rights. And with the first shot of that fateful day - a shot heard round the world - the American Revolution, and America's experiment with democracy, began.

Those men of Lexington and Concord were among our first patriots. And at the beginning of a week when we celebrate the birth of our nation, I think it is fitting to pause for a moment and reflect on the meaning of patriotism - theirs, and ours. We do so in part because we are in the midst of war - more than one and a half million of our finest young men and women have now fought in Iraq and Afghanistan; over 60,000 have been wounded, and over 4,600 have been laid to rest. The costs of war have been great, and the debate surrounding our mission in Iraq has been fierce. It is natural, in light of such sacrifice by so many, to think more deeply about the commitments that bind us to our nation, and to each other.

We reflect on these questions as well because we are in the midst of a presidential election, perhaps the most consequential in generations; a contest that will determine the course of this nation for years, perhaps decades, to come. Not only is it a debate about big issues - health care, jobs, energy, education, and retirement security - but it is also a debate about values. How do we keep ourselves safe and secure while preserving our liberties? How do we restore trust in a government that seems increasingly removed from its people and dominated by special interests? How do we ensure that in an increasingly global economy, the winners maintain allegiance to the less fortunate? And how do we resolve our differences at a time of increasing diversity?

Finally, it is worth considering the meaning of patriotism because the question of who is - or is not - a patriot all too often poisons our political debates, in ways that divide us rather than bringing us together. I have come to know this from my own experience on the campaign trail. Throughout my life, I have always taken my deep and abiding love for this country as a given. It was how I was raised; it is what propelled me into public service; it is why I am running for President. And yet, at certain times over the last sixteen months, I have found, for the first time, my patriotism challenged - at times as a result of my own carelessness, more often as a result of the desire by some to score political points and raise fears about who I am and what I stand for.

So let me say at this at outset of my remarks. I will never question the patriotism of others in this campaign. And I will not stand idly by when I hear others question mine.

My concerns here aren't simply personal, however. After all, throughout our history, men and women of far greater stature and significance than me have had their patriotism questioned in the midst of momentous debates. Thomas Jefferson was accused by the Federalists of selling out to the French. The anti-Federalists were just as convinced that John Adams was in cahoots with the British and intent on restoring monarchal rule. Likewise, even our wisest Presidents have sought to justify questionable policies on the basis of patriotism. Adams' Alien and Sedition Act, Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus, Roosevelt's internment of Japanese Americans - all were defended as expressions of patriotism, and those who disagreed with their policies were sometimes labeled as unpatriotic.

In other words, the use of patriotism as a political sword or a political shield is as old as the Republic. Still, what is striking about today's patriotism debate is the degree to which it remains rooted in the culture wars of the 1960s - in arguments that go back forty years or more. In the early years of the civil rights movement and opposition to the Vietnam War, defenders of the status quo often accused anybody who questioned the wisdom of government policies of being unpatriotic. Meanwhile, some of those in the so-called counter-culture of the Sixties reacted not merely by criticizing particular government policies, but by attacking the symbols, and in extreme cases, the very idea, of America itself - by burning flags; by blaming America for all that was wrong with the world; and perhaps most tragically, by failing to honor those veterans coming home from Vietnam, something that remains a national shame to this day
Most Americans never bought into these simplistic world-views - these caricatures of left and right. Most Americans understood that dissent does not make one unpatriotic, and that there is nothing smart or sophisticated about a cynical disregard for America's traditions and institutions. And yet the anger and turmoil of that period never entirely drained away. All too often our politics still seems trapped in these old, threadbare arguments - a fact most evident during our recent debates about the war in Iraq, when those who opposed administration policy were tagged by some as unpatriotic, and a general providing his best counsel on how to move forward in Iraq was accused of betrayal.

Given the enormous challenges that lie before us, we can no longer afford these sorts of divisions. None of us expect that arguments about patriotism will, or should, vanish entirely; after all, when we argue about patriotism, we are arguing about who we are as a country, and more importantly, who we should be. But surely we can agree that no party or political philosophy has a monopoly on patriotism. And surely we can arrive at a definition of patriotism that, however rough and imperfect, captures the best of America's common spirit.

What would such a definition look like? For me, as for most Americans, patriotism starts as a gut instinct, a loyalty and love for country rooted in my earliest memories. I'm not just talking about the recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance or the Thanksgiving pageants at school or the fireworks on the Fourth of July, as wonderful as those things may be. Rather, I'm referring to the way the American ideal wove its way throughout the lessons my family taught me as a child.

One of my earliest memories is of sitting on my grandfather's shoulders and watching the astronauts come to shore in Hawaii. I remember the cheers and small flags that people waved, and my grandfather explaining how we Americans could do anything we set our minds to do. That's my idea of America.

I remember listening to my grandmother telling stories about her work on a bomber assembly-line during World War II. I remember my grandfather handing me his dog-tags from his time in Patton's Army, and understanding that his defense of this country marked one of his greatest sources of pride. That's my idea of America.

I remember, when living for four years in Indonesia as a child, listening to my mother reading me the first lines of the Declaration of Independence - "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." I remember her explaining how this declaration applied to every American, black and white and brown alike; how those words, and words of the United States Constitution, protected us from the injustices that we witnessed other people suffering during those years abroad. That's my idea of America.

As I got older, that gut instinct - that America is the greatest country on earth - would survive my growing awareness of our nation's imperfections: it's ongoing racial strife; the perversion of our political system laid bare during the Watergate hearings; the wrenching poverty of the Mississippi Delta and the hills of Appalachia. Not only because, in my mind, the joys of American life and culture, its vitality, its variety and its freedom, always outweighed its imperfections, but because I learned that what makes America great has never been its perfection but the belief that it can be made better. I came to understand that our revolution was waged for the sake of that belief - that we could be governed by laws, not men; that we could be equal in the eyes of those laws; that we could be free to say what we want and assemble with whomever we want and worship as we please; that we could have the right to pursue our individual dreams but the obligation to help our fellow citizens pursue theirs.

For a young man of mixed race, without firm anchor in any particular community, without even a father's steadying hand, it is this essential American idea - that we are not constrained by the accident of birth but can make of our lives what we will - that has defined my life, just as it has defined the life of so many other Americans.

That is why, for me, patriotism is always more than just loyalty to a place on a map or a certain kind of people. Instead, it is also loyalty to America's ideals - ideals for which anyone can sacrifice, or defend, or give their last full measure of devotion. I believe it is this loyalty that allows a country teeming with different races and ethnicities, religions and customs, to come together as one. It is the application of these ideals that separate us from Zimbabwe, where the opposition party and their supporters have been silently hunted, tortured or killed; or Burma, where tens of thousands continue to struggle for basic food and shelter in the wake of a monstrous storm because a military junta fears opening up the country to outsiders; or Iraq, where despite the heroic efforts of our military, and the courage of many ordinary Iraqis, even limited cooperation between various factions remains far too elusive.

I believe those who attack America's flaws without acknowledging the singular greatness of our ideals, and their proven capacity to inspire a better world, do not truly understand America.

Of course, precisely because America isn't perfect, precisely because our ideals constantly demand more from us, patriotism can never be defined as loyalty to any particular leader or government or policy. As Mark Twain, that greatest of American satirists and proud son of Missouri, once wrote, "Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it." We may hope that our leaders and our government stand up for our ideals, and there are many times in our history when that's occurred. But when our laws, our leaders or our government are out of alignment with our ideals, then the dissent of ordinary Americans may prove to be one of the truest expression of patriotism.

The young preacher from Georgia, Martin Luther King, Jr., who led a movement to help America confront our tragic history of racial injustice and live up to the meaning of our creed - he was a patriot. The young soldier who first spoke about the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib - he is a patriot. Recognizing a wrong being committed in this country's name; insisting that we deliver on the promise of our Constitution - these are the acts of patriots, men and women who are defending that which is best in America. And we should never forget that - especially when we disagree with them; especially when they make us uncomfortable with their words.

Beyond a loyalty to America's ideals, beyond a willingness to dissent on behalf of those ideals, I also believe that patriotism must, if it is to mean anything, involve the willingness to sacrifice - to give up something we value on behalf of a larger cause. For those who have fought under the flag of this nation - for the young veterans I meet when I visit Walter Reed; for those like John McCain who have endured physical torment in service to our country - no further proof of such sacrifice is necessary. And let me also add that no one should ever devalue that service, especially for the sake of a political campaign, and that goes for supporters on both sides.
We must always express our profound gratitude for the service of our men and women in uniform. Period. Indeed, one of the good things to emerge from the current conflict in Iraq has been the widespread recognition that whether you support this war or oppose it, the sacrifice of our troops is always worthy of honor.

For the rest of us - for those of us not in uniform or without loved ones in the military - the call to sacrifice for the country's greater good remains an imperative of citizenship. Sadly, in recent years, in the midst of war on two fronts, this call to service never came. After 9/11, we were asked to shop. The wealthiest among us saw their tax obligations decline, even as the costs of war continued to mount. Rather than work together to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and thereby lessen our vulnerability to a volatile region, our energy policy remained unchanged, and our oil dependence only grew.

In spite of this absence of leadership from Washington, I have seen a new generation of Americans begin to take up the call. I meet them everywhere I go, young people involved in the project of American renewal; not only those who have signed up to fight for our country in distant lands, but those who are fighting for a better America here at home, by teaching in underserved schools, or caring for the sick in understaffed hospitals, or promoting more sustainable energy policies in their local communities.

I believe one of the tasks of the next Administration is to ensure that this movement towards service grows and sustains itself in the years to come. We should expand AmeriCorps and grow the Peace Corps. We should encourage national service by making it part of the requirement for a new college assistance program, even as we strengthen the benefits for those whose sense of duty has already led them to serve in our military.

We must remember, though, that true patriotism cannot be forced or legislated with a mere set of government programs. Instead, it must reside in the hearts of our people, and cultivated in the heart of our culture, and nurtured in the hearts of our children.

As we begin our fourth century as a nation, it is easy to take the extraordinary nature of America for granted. But it is our responsibility as Americans and as parents to instill that history in our children, both at home and at school. The loss of quality civic education from so many of our classrooms has left too many young Americans without the most basic knowledge of who our forefathers are, or what they did, or the significance of the founding documents that bear their names. Too many children are ignorant of the sheer effort, the risks and sacrifices made by previous generations, to ensure that this country survived war and depression; through the great struggles for civil, and social, and worker's rights.

It is up to us, then, to teach them. It is up to us to teach them that even though we have faced great challenges and made our share of mistakes, we have always been able to come together and make this nation stronger, and more prosperous, and more united, and more just. It is up to us to teach them that America has been a force for good in the world, and that other nations and other people have looked to us as the last, best hope of Earth. It is up to us to teach them that it is good to give back to one's community; that it is honorable to serve in the military; that it is vital to participate in our democracy and make our voices heard.

And it is up to us to teach our children a lesson that those of us in politics too often forget: that patriotism involves not only defending this country against external threat, but also working constantly to make America a better place for future generations.

When we pile up mountains of debt for the next generation to absorb, or put off changes to our energy policies, knowing full well the potential consequences of inaction, we are placing our short-term interests ahead of the nation's long-term well-being. When we fail to educate effectively millions of our children so that they might compete in a global economy, or we fail to invest in the basic scientific research that has driven innovation in this country, we risk leaving behind an America that has fallen in the ranks of the world. Just as patriotism involves each of us making a commitment to this nation that extends beyond our own immediate self-interest, so must that commitment extends beyond our own time here on earth.

Our greatest leaders have always understood this. They've defined patriotism with an eye toward posterity. George Washington is rightly revered for his leadership of the Continental Army, but one of his greatest acts of patriotism was his insistence on stepping down after two terms, thereby setting a pattern for those that would follow, reminding future presidents that this is a government of and by and for the people.

Abraham Lincoln did not simply win a war or hold the Union together. In his unwillingness to demonize those against whom he fought; in his refusal to succumb to either the hatred or self-righteousness that war can unleash; in his ultimate insistence that in the aftermath of war the nation would no longer remain half slave and half free; and his trust in the better angels of our nature - he displayed the wisdom and courage that sets a standard for patriotism.

And it was the most famous son of Independence, Harry S Truman, who sat in the White House during his final days in office and said in his Farewell Address: "When Franklin Roosevelt died, I felt there must be a million men better qualified than I, to take up the Presidential task...But through all of it, through all the years I have worked here in this room, I have been well aware than I did not really work alone - that you were working with me. No President could ever hope to lead our country, or to sustain the burdens of this office, save the people helped with their support."

In the end, it may be this quality that best describes patriotism in my mind - not just a love of America in the abstract, but a very particular love for, and faith in, the American people. That is why our heart swells with pride at the sight of our flag; why we shed a tear as the lonely notes of Taps sound. For we know that the greatness of this country - its victories in war, its enormous wealth, its scientific and cultural achievements - all result from the energy and imagination of the American people; their toil, drive, struggle, restlessness, humor and quiet heroism.

That is the liberty we defend - the liberty of each of us to pursue our own dreams. That is the equality we seek - not an equality of results, but the chance of every single one of us to make it if we try. That is the community we strive to build - one in which we trust in this sometimes messy democracy of ours, one in which we continue to insist that there is nothing we cannot do when we put our mind to it, one in which we see ourselves as part of a larger story, our own fates wrapped up in the fates of those who share allegiance to America's happy and singular creed.

Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

By Web Politics Editor  |  June 30, 2008; 12:30 PM ET
Categories:  Primary Source  
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reading this brings tears to my eyes. Is it possible? His words help me have hope in our government, something I thought nearly impossible.

Posted by: sraj | July 15, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

It was a good time to show how patriotic he is before the election without doing it too obvious.

Posted by: Falk | July 11, 2008 6:37 AM | Report abuse

Obama shows the problems without hiding it behind the American Dream. He talked to the audience without a bureaucracy wall and combined the problems with personal ideas. His patriotically speech is very convincing and is showing the right way.

Posted by: Johan | July 11, 2008 6:34 AM | Report abuse

In my opinion it's difficult to judge the patriotism speech of Obama. Patriots in general are brave and they also have to be ambitious. I think Barack Obama, as a black man,wants to motivate and to support the people to fight for their rights. Patriotism is a topic, which has it's advantages and also disadvantages.
On the one hand people can reach to get the same rights and to be independent but on the other hand it can be very dangerous to get that through. Because of the fact, that Obama doesn't have a real political position, it's even difficult to take a stand for this topic on my own. Of course he explaines the history and the background in a very interesting way and he also motivates the audience, but as you can see, there is nothing changed. It seems like nobody really trusts Obama.

Posted by: Tatjana | July 11, 2008 6:32 AM | Report abuse

In my opinion Obama sounds clear what he wants to transmit to the audience and gives them trust and hope.
His proud words make the fear of changes vanish and shows a truethful side of him.
I'm not living in America but he should convince me with his own written speech on that level.
Obama for presidet. :D

Posted by: Jesper Renz | July 11, 2008 6:20 AM | Report abuse

In my opinion Obama sounds clear what he wants to transmit to the audience and gives them trust and hope.
His proud words make the fear of changes vanish and shows a truethful side of him.
I'm not living in America but he should convince me with his own written speech on that level.
Obama for presidet. :D

Posted by: Jesper Renz | July 11, 2008 6:19 AM | Report abuse

most of the people of this country knows what obama really is, and it's not good!he tries and tries with words to explain but it does not work! read between his lines and you will see what he is! SAVE AMERICA, NO VOTE 4 obamascam!

Posted by: ruth | July 3, 2008 1:40 AM | Report abuse

"For the rest of us - for those of us not in uniform or without loved ones in the military - the call to sacrifice for the country's greater good remains an imperative of citizenship. Sadly, in recent years, in the midst of war on two fronts, this call to service never came. After 9/11, we were asked to shop. The wealthiest among us saw their tax obligations decline, even as the costs of war continued to mount. Rather than work together to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and thereby lessen our vulnerability to a volatile region, our energy policy remained unchanged, and our oil dependence only grew."

I want to address this one quote from his speech and then address the entire speech as a whole.

First of all, is he for a draft? Look at that first statement carefully...

Secondly, he falls back on the "Republicans are evil and want to starve our children" scare tactic. See any change yet?

This speech is devoid of any substance. You can't have it both ways, sir. Pick a position and defend it. There are lots of grand ideals in this speech that no one can dispute, either side of the aisle. But there are also no new clear ideas on how to achieve those lofty goals. For example, our children are not learning the history that shaped this great nation of ours. So true, I totally agree. But he says it's up to "us" to teach them. What does that mean? Of course it's up to "us", but who does he mean exactly? Teachers? Parents? Government programs? If he means "us" in general, everybody, how does he expect that to just magically happen? No substance...

Posted by: sheigh | July 3, 2008 12:51 AM | Report abuse

We encourage users to analyze

Posted by: READ | July 2, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

It is finally becoming clear to some people around me that Barack Obama is the white capitalist establishment's black candidate. When are the rest of you going to recognize it?

The capitalist class believes that it has benefited greatly, especially in the long-term, from expanded imperialism and the destruction of the labor movement.

However, corporate America is concerned that the project is running into resistance from the left. The Republican brand has taken a hit and John McCain makes it difficult to continue the policies of George W. Bush because he is a conservative white male.

Progressives have no qualms about raising hell over the anti-democratic actions of conservative white male Republicans. Barack Obama, on the other hand, has manufactured a left liberal cult of personality which finds many liberals jettisoning their core principles in exchange for the symbolic accomplishment of a black president. Sacrificing principle for symbolism, Obama is in a better position to continue the capitalist project of dismantling the decades of progressive legislation implaced by the New Dealers.

Obama has been auditioning hard for the job over the past several weeks. We will get our answer after the convention as to whether or not he gets the job. If the corporate media continues its pro-Obama form, Obama is their man. If the corporate media trucks out his associations in Chicago and harps on Obama's character problems, for example, his unparalleled penchant for pandering, we will know they have decided to continue with the Republicans in the executive.

In light of Obama's dramatic shift to the right, and given the cooptative function of his candidacy, an Obama presidency is likely to be worse than a McCain presidency.

I am saddened that so many liberals have been duped by the Obama candidacy.

Posted by: Andrew Austin | July 2, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Supporters of DP and GOP candidates seem to think that everyone must either support either clown A or clown B. Every Dem turns around once in office and becomes as conservative as any Republican. Like Clinton, who killed Welfare, created the first "anti-terror" legislation, and signed the Iraq "Regime Change" bill into law. The Dems were co-architects of our permanent war. Real "marxists" wont support either candidate in this election.

Posted by: Red Terror | July 2, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

C'mon PEOPLE. The man has written TWO books, extremely eloquently, I might add, and has taught Civics for years. He wrote his own speech! If any one of you had read his books, you would instinctively know that this is his writing! Yes he probably used a teleprompter, but does that mean he doesn't do his own work? You people are such a joke. You can't find anything to criticize him about because for the first time in 8 years, we may have a smart President. What is truly frightening, is how much having a smart President puts the American people off. Pathetic. How's that for Patriotism? Aaah, Dissent is truly the sound of freedom....

Posted by: Michigan Voter | July 2, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

US economy is on decline.spends billions of dollars in iraq on daily basis.
its so called war on terror seems to have no end.But the americans are in
the process of brain storming to find out, is obama a patriot?He is being
targetted because of this undeniable fact that he was born to a muslim
father of african_black_origin..I don't understand what's wrong in it and
secondly,what is his fault?He didn't follow his father's religion
and is a permanent resident of US,still his countrymen are in no mood to
spare him. Dear americans ,GROW UP, PLEASE..Such a debate may provoke
some non muslim fanatic or racist against obama.
The country that couldn't save the lives of John Kennedy
and his brother despite their non controvertial origin, can it provide
safety to a black skinned presidential candidate whose ancestors were muslims?

Ms.Rukhsana Maroof Khan

Posted by: Rukhsana Maroof Khan | July 2, 2008 7:35 AM | Report abuse

There is an interesting link to that day
"the shot heard round the world" on April 19,1775 in Lexington and Concord, MA. was fired at:
What happened on that day in history should be known by every American. Sadly it is not. Thank you for reminding Americans about this important event.

Obamas family ties and connections to our founders can be seen at:

Posted by: Alexis | July 1, 2008 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Obama's speech is strictly for the rubes and know-nothings, as far as I am concerned. But luckily, America has plenty of them!

Posted by: Mattie | July 1, 2008 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Libs and Dems kill me. They think Obama cares for them and he sells it well. Oh he is good. Why does he accept $5 a gallon gas? Because the environmental lobby owns the party and he does as he is told. If he really cared about us regular folks he would be for drilling, coal and nuke for now and then getting serious about funding alternative energy to take over in 10 years. Yet we get speeches full of symbolism and BS that make us feel good. A couple more years of $5 gas and everyone will want his head. Talk is cheap! Read the truth in Current Events, Conservative Outcomes by Freiman. The truth will set you free.

Posted by: Hans | July 1, 2008 8:31 PM | Report abuse

YES! Another great discourse on the issues that are pulling this nation apart. Patriotism means loving your country and its people enough to want it to be better!

so many haters out there, proudly posting their diatribes of FEAR, UNCERTAINTY, & DOUBT...

chickenhawks! Archie Bunkers of the world! Don't fear the future! I know many, many republicans (myself included) who will vote for Obama simply because they know that a vote for McCain is a vote to continue tearing this country apart.

Obama's vision for our country's future is one that I share, as do millions of patriotic Americans.

Posted by: yesObama | July 1, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

By giving this speech he unites America healing a divide. I say that with authority because hearing this speech healed a divide between me and my fellow citizens: He explained to me why the flag pin is important to some people. How the desecration of America's symbols by some in the 60's counter culture coupled with the disrespect for Vietnam veterans left scars and associations that make any antiwar sentiment seem suspect. The flag pin seemed to confirm that fear as did the MoveOn "Betray Us" ad.
The fact is words do matter, his words healed a division in me.
God Bless Mr Obama and the USA!
Happy Independence Day!

Posted by: Graham P. | July 1, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Barb W. George bush and John McCain sent all that money to Iraq and the victims of hurricane Katrina weren't mostly Americans. They were mostly blacks.

Posted by: labadie | July 1, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

i am personally very scared by obama's words. sure they may sound good, but they are laced with evil. he is just putting aside the issue of patriotism, so people won't question his.

Posted by: m | July 1, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

One can see why a Republican would simply adore this line:

"Meanwhile, some of those in the so-called counter-culture of the Sixties reacted not merely by criticizing particular government policies, but by attacking the symbols, and in extreme cases, the very idea, of America itself - by burning flags; by blaming America for all that was wrong with the world; and perhaps most tragically, by failing to honor those veterans coming home from Vietnam, something that remains a national shame to this day."

Compare it with the speech Jeanne Kirkpatrick delivered to the Rupublican National Convention in 1984:

"They said that saving Grenada from terror and totalitarianism was the wrong thing to do - they didn't blame Cuba or the communists for threatening American students and murdering Grenadians - they blamed the United States instead.

But then, somehow, they always blame America first.

When our Marines, sent to Lebanon on a multinational peacekeeping mission with the consent of the United States Congress, were murdered in their sleep, the "blame America first crowd" didn't blame the terrorists who murdered the Marines, they blamed the United States.

But then, they always blame America first.

When the Soviet Union walked out of arms control negotiations, and refused even to discuss the issues, the San Francisco Democrats didn't blame Soviet intransigence. They blamed the United States.

But then, they always blame America first.

When Marxist dictators shoot their way to power in Central America, the San Francisco Democrats don't blame the guerrillas and their Soviet allies, they blame United States policies of 100 years ago.

But then, they always blame America first.

The American people know better....

...The American people know that it's dangerous to blame ourselves for terrible problems that we did not cause."

Change we can believe in, indeed.

Posted by: waaa change me | July 1, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I find it exceedingly worrisome that the presence and power of Barack Obama scares people. I listen and reread Barack's speeches, and I don't see pretentiousness- I see and hear possibilities. I am proud that we are considering a man who actually knows history and can cite the words and actions of our great, past leaders. He reminds me of the greatest we have been and can be if we are not too scared to face the challenges we clearly have been given by self-serving and short-sighted decisions of the last eight years

Posted by: J Wilson | July 1, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Great speech! If Obama actions did not contradict his words he would have my vote. But unfortunately, all of his actions reduce a great speech to just words unsupported by any actions on his part that give substances or belief to his words. I for one think it would be impossible to sit in church for 20 years and listen to hate filled rants against everything you profess to believe in and hold true!

Posted by: Black Saint | July 1, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Dave, 1700's, 1800's, 1900's, 2000's. 1-2-3-4 centuries. Fifth on this Continent if you want to give credit to Jamestown and Plymouth.

The "where's the beef" stuff is getting tired too folks. This was a 4th of July speech about Patriotism. Not a 12 point white paper on Farm Policy.

Try digging a little and find the substance. It is out there, but the MSM isnt spoon feeding it to you. It's all over his website and Youtube for your easy retrieval.

All of the angry snark in these comments is what's scary too. I am a lifelong Republican, and I could take shots at his policies all day long. But he has my vote as I live and breathe.

If you disagree with something he said, let's hear it. But attacking the speaker and his tone is a weak argument.

Posted by: Mike N. | July 1, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Once again, Obama's shooting for the center. He thinks attacking the same '60's counterculture that got him where he is today will demonstrate thoughtfulness and reasoned judgment. But all it does is demonstrate once again his willingness to pull up the ladder behind him. Hey, Barack, I've got something you can center on. Just look for the big brown spot.

Posted by: hippy scum | July 1, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

He must have learned a different kind of arithmetic in those fancy schools he went to,
2008 - 1776 = 232 years old this July 4th.
How does he get to the 4th century?
"as we begin our fourth century as a nation"
Lucky for him our 4th estate has been build into a temple for the purposes of worshiping Lord Obama.

Posted by: Dave Arneson | July 1, 2008 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Democrats have so diluted the definition of patriotism that it's hard to name an activity that is uniquely patriotic or unpatriotic. Saluting the flag is considered patriotic by most of us. Yet they argue that burning the flag in dissent is also patriotic, so does the word have any meaning at all? I'll say, "patriotic people stand for and respect the Star Spangled Banner when it's played." But they will argue that not standing is also patriotic as a form of protest for this or that cause. When a word is defined so broadly it ceases to have meaning.

Posted by: Steve | June 30, 2008 11:25 PM | Report abuse

I keep hearing many of you refer to Obama as smart and showing leadership......what he's showing you is that he can read from a teleprompter better than McCain.... thats all

Posted by: Buffoon | June 30, 2008 8:59 PM | Report abuse

I honestly have to laugh at the "I'm a Hillary supporter" posts on this list.

I sincerely doubt the legitimacy of these "authors," just as I doubt anyone who's reaction to a well delivered - albeit largely safe - speech.

With no way to attack Obama on the basis of logic or reason, we're left with people who can only attempt to scare us or lie about their loyalty to Clinton.

The fact is that Obama and Billy C. met today. These so called PUMAs are just little McRoves in disguise.

Funny how the first mature political dialog in 10 years can prompt such a virulent response. It makes you wonder about the real agenda of the anti-Obama community.

Ryhmes with ... Spacist Spempire

Posted by: JoeBob Twain | June 30, 2008 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Again we hear the race bating here in the comments... we all who are not for Obama are racists... Obama played the race card in reverse and now We who do not support him and see through his rhetoric are called names... despicable name like "racist." He has divided black and white most assuredly and he continues to do so. His supporters fall right in with his step. I would love him to unite us not divide us, but alas.. perhaps this humble person will not be enough so perhaps he will listen to the voice of maturity as seen below:

In response to Obama's claim that Republicans will use race to stoke fear, Lt. Col Allen West, candidate for Congress in Florida's 22 District issued this release: (Clarice Feldman)

"My advice to Senator Obama is to run as a Man and Leader, and the American people will evaluate you as such, not as a victim. This is a Presidential race, based solely on a capacity to lead the United States of America. It is not about skin tone...however, perhaps we should come to expect these immature statements.

It also seems rather humorous that the Presidential candidate who was supposed to be such a "uniter" and transcend race is the one talking about it the most. If Senator Obama was confident in his abilities and character, he would not need to create a crutch for failure. Senator Obama has just tipped his hand, any criticism of him and his policies will be directly attributed to racism. I congratulate Senator Obama for taking race relations in America back some 30 years." Lt. Col Allen West

Posted by: Barb W | June 30, 2008 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Guess his patriotism can be proven by the changes he advocates


Wow! Obama plans on spending another $300 million on his campaign to win the White House. This is in addition to the $142 million he has already raised and spent.

This is more money than any other presidential candidate has raised in modern history.

Wow! That's a lot of money! Obama supporters should really be proud!

But, then all of this money, makes one wonder.

Where was all of this money after Katrina hit and his people needed food, transportation, clothing, shelter, and medical services?

Where was all of this money when his folks starting losing their homes because they couldn't make the mortgage payments?

Where was all of this money when his people living in poverty in our cities and rural areas needed help funding schools?

Where was all of this money when his young people couldn't afford to go to college so they could compete for better jobs?

Where was all of this money when his folks lost their jobs and needed a hand in finding new jobs, training for new skills, or just a helping hand?

Where was all of this money while his people still live in the streets, eat out of garbage cans, go without medicine, and die with no one caring?

Wow! That's a lot of money! Obama supporters should really be proud!

Posted by: Barb W | June 30, 2008 8:22 PM | Report abuse

It's very similar to my view of patriotism. It's an excellent speech, just like his speech on racism and his father's day speech.

Posted by: jerry | June 30, 2008 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Mark Twain, that greatest of American satirists and proud son of Missouri, once wrote, "Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it."

PUMAs might amend that to read "your party when it deserves it" Unfortunately, this year, the Democrats don't deserve it. It's a shame that Mark Twain isn't here to comment on the satire of democratic principles that the Democratic Primary has been.

Posted by: AniEm | June 30, 2008 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Every speech is pretentious, every word is measured so as to fit the 10 to 12 sylables that makes up the cadence of his hypnotic intonations. The words are pretty, but the substance behind them is lacking. The whole campaign is so much style over substance.

I am a Hillary supporter who will not, under any circumstances, vote for this fraud. The DNC made the choice, the voter didn't. I recently joined PUMA to try to reverse this travesty.

Posted by: Heneri | June 30, 2008 6:38 PM | Report abuse

It's time for Obama to start talking about specifics and issues. Start debating with Mccain so we know what he stands for.

Speeches - he has lectured us on race, patriotism - does not put food on the table, would not help the unemployed, the price of gas etc. I am getting sick and tired of him delivering speeches. I guess he cannot make an agrument or speak without a telepromoter.

No more speeches!!!! We need to start talking about issues that matters.

Posted by: No more speeches, talk about issues | June 30, 2008 5:56 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: scathcart | June 30, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Obama: "..... the dissent of ordinary Americans may prove to be one of the truest expression of patriotism."

Obama has told us: Ordinary Americans Dissenting is Patriotism.

Obama is directly encouraging us to 'Dissent."

Is this how Obama will implement his "Changes"..?

Reread his speeches...Obama scares me!

Posted by: Azephyr | June 30, 2008 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Check out this hilarious parody of Obama's volunteers denying 2 Muslim women seats behind the podium at a rally.

Posted by: Cat | June 30, 2008 5:18 PM | Report abuse

That was the biggest hypocritical speech I've ever heard. Those are not his words - they are the words of a gifted speechwriter and a teleprompter. For once I would like to see the man give a speech from his heart and his mind, not from someone else's. But when in that situation, he is anything but eloquent.

If he is for COUNTRY first, and encourages political DISSENT, then why do his supporters continually degrade, denigrate, insult, and threaten those of us who no longer believe the process and policies of the DNC are Democratic and representative "of the people, by the people, for the people"!

We are not racist. We are not bigots. We are not sexist. We are not REPUBLICANS.

The PUMA movement is for those who no longer have faith or trust in the DNC, not for or against any particular candidate. We act on the voices of our members - the Voice of the Voters.

Our members represent every religion, gender, race, class, and SES, yet we are all of one opinion: the PARTY is broken and must be fixed.

Our mission is COUNTRY before PARTY, yet the Obama media,spin-control machine, and a good deal of his supporters have done everything possible to shut us down and out.

He succeeded in shutting down the vote, but will not succeed in silencing the voices.

God Bless America.

Proud PUMA Member

Posted by: A Puma Democrat | June 30, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Check out this hilarious parody of Obama's volunteers denying 2 Muslim women seats behind the podium at a rally.

Posted by: Cat | June 30, 2008 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Even though I don't really care for Obama I will admit it was a great speech and it makes some very good points about what it is to be a patriot. For those of you that can't respect this speech or bash him for other thing like a pastor (things that are out of his control) you're just a RACIST!!!

In regards to McCain, I respect his service in the military and his service to our country as a Senator but that doesn't mean he is qualified or the best option to be President.

In my opinion both parties have it wrong and neither has been in touch with the American people for a long time. Unfortunately these are the only options we have right now. What this country really needs is a TRUE INDEPENDENT to lead us out of this mess that BOTH parties have put us in. One of our greatest Patriots was an INDEPENDENT, his name was George Washington. If you know anything about our countries history you would know that thing could have turned out a lot different if it wasn't for him and his INDEPENDENT thinking.

At this time in history that's exactly what we need, but what we get is the same old same old and the only person to blame is yourself. If you continue to be divided over STUPID issues you will destroy this country. Our forefather would be ashamed.

Posted by: True Patriot | June 30, 2008 5:01 PM | Report abuse

If the American people accept Obama's definition of patriotism we will face America's problems today as we have in the past. For with Obama's definition of patriotism we will have the courage to do the right thing in Iraq, the economy, health care and energy. Improvement can only come from a recognition of our imperfections and a determination to start anew to solve problems.

We have lived through a period where our president misunderstood this country to be an autocracy and the antidote is a period of cooperativeness in the White House.

Obama's life has been a pursuit of excellence which he has pursued as community organizer, a constitutional lawyer, a politician and an author. He did them in such a fashion that would have made his parents and grandparents proud.

John McCain's pursuit was that of social status which he achieved by marriage to his last wife. I doubt that John McCain's concept of patriotism will coincide with the vast majority of the middle class the way Barack Obama's does.

The power of Mr Obama is that he meets the Republican lie machine which prompted this speech, not with silence as his predecessors did, but with eloquence. He has the ability to uplift people to higher ideals. It must be frustrating to be a McCain supporter and know that your candidate is hardly this gifted.

He may not turn out to be a Lincoln, an FDR or a Washington but at least there is that potential to lead the way they did.

Posted by: Gator-ron | June 30, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

'OBAMA-the-PATRIOT' - wow - did this occur on the day they 'taught' PATRIOTISM 101 at HARVARD LAW the same date they 'taught' the 2ND AMENDMENT and 'the right to bear arms' when you were conspicuously absent Mr. MARXIST??? Ha!!! DEMBHOLE DIMWITS are always such fun and this one has 'BIG-EARS' to boot!!!

Posted by: Zyskandar A Jaimot | June 30, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Hah, anyone attacking Obama for a speech such as this one is showing their true colors, and those colors are not RW&B!

And, by the way, someone, anyone, show me a speech where McCain "the maverick" talks nicely about his opponent. No... by his recent mode of personal denigration of his opponent, McCain might as well be named McRove...

Posted by: JTS | June 30, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

"With Oil at 143 dollars a barrel and a war that's sapping 3 billion dollars a week from our economy I believe the most unpatriotic people in this country are Bush, who created these problems,(HOW ABOUT THE DIMOCRATS IN CONGRESS WHO PREVENT US FROM DRILLING FOR OUR OWN OIL AND THEREBY PREVENT US FROM HAVING ENERGY INDEPENDENCE - THEY WANT US TO CONTINUE BEING DEPENDENT ON THE MIDDLE EAST FOR OUR OIL SUPPLIES)...McCain who will extend these problem if elected (ACTUALLY MCCAIN WANTS TO END THE NO-DRILL POLICIES THAT HAVE GOTTEN US WHERE WE ARE TODAY, IF ONLY THE DIMOCRATS IN CONGRESS WILL ALLOW IT)and the Republicans who support both these guys. It doesn't matter how you cut it, the Republicans have destroyed this country (AND THE DEMOCRATS SHARE NO BLAME WHATSOEVER?...ok."

Posted by: NObama | June 30, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

The best definition of Racism I've ever heard is this

"A misjudgement one knowingly defends. If you misjudge the speed of an oncoming car, one quickly adjusts their perception. Bigotry stubbornly defends the misjudgement."

I have read several criticisms below of the speech above, and each time I overwhelmingly think less of the criticism than I do of the speech.

It is not a perfect speech, much like we do not live in a perfect America, and he is not a perfect Obama - and yet the man and the speech call us to sacrifice to make America better.

To that I say Amen.

And if you're so concerned with Jeremiah Wright (or just want to use him to scare people away from Obama) then ask yourself if Jeremiah Wright could ever give this speech? I didn't think so. Jeremiah Wright may lack the sophistication to understand the core message of this speech. And those who use him as a cudgel may as well.

If you want to knowingly defend your misjudgement of this speech as poor, it is your right and I will fight to defend your right to continue to be an idiot. Or maybe you lack an understanding of the freedoms of America. Whatever. Just don't expect to earn any respect for your behavior.

Posted by: SonOfHistoryProf | June 30, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Wonderful speech. I thank God today, we have been gifted with this candidate. I PRAY every American will open his or her mind to the prospect of having BRAINS in the White House. It will make a difference.

Let it be ... If he is the answer, let it be!!!!

Posted by: Helen in Colorado | June 30, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

If you can read that speech, and then refer to John McCain as "McStain", then you may well need to read it again and deeply contemplate its ideas.

Please grow up.

That speech shows true leadership.

Posted by: SonOfHistoryProf` | June 30, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

If you can read that speech, and then refer to John McCain as "McStain", then you may well need to read it again and deeply contemplate its ideas.

Please grow up.

That speech shows true leadership.

Posted by: SonOfHistoryProf` | June 30, 2008 3:27 PM | Report abuse

This is the speech I have always wanted to hear come from a politician. These are the words the rest of the world needs to hear from our leaders. We cannot defend out policies as perfection. We cannot stand behind decisions for 25 years before beginning to allow criticism. The world views America as pretentious presently. It is humbling speeches like this that will call the American, and the world to action to fight a just cause. I have always loved the land I was raised on. I have always loved what our country was based on. I have always desired to see the potential our forefathers allowed for this nation. Obama did not pretentiously state he could fix all this. He did, although, state that imperfections do exist, and as a nation it is our duty to constantly strive for a better world for tomorrow.

Posted by: John | June 30, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Can ANYONE imagine the current President making this speech? I doubt if he knows half the words much less understands them.
It's about time we had a smart President. We need this man now more than ever.

Posted by: David | June 30, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Patriotism is not the issue with Obama. Both Lenin and Csar Nicolas were "patriots", but both had a radically different view of Russia. The "Amerika" that Obama is loyal to is an "Amerika" where the people have to stand in line while the government, afflicted with Munchausen's syndrome, doles out food, medicine and "benefits" to the masses. Obama is loyal to an "Amerika" afflicted with (what OBAMA calls) "White man's greed." Obama is loyal to a Stalinist "Amerika" where freedom of expression and freedom of speech is limited to the political left, while anything he (and his cadre of bleating neo-soviet sheep ) dislikes is banned under a broad definition of hate speech. Obama is loyal to an "Amerika" where working people pay 60-70% of their take-home pay to taxes while he spends our tax money spreading benefits to illegal alien criminals and third world causes. Obama is loyal to an "Amerika" wherein we will all be dunned a special "U.N. Tax" in addition to our federal and state taxes. Obama's loyalty is not the issue. He is loyal to "Amerika", but he wants to destroy our life and our culture. That is why his wife, last week on "The View", boasted that an Obama presidency would change "American History", change "American Traditions" and call for a redistribution of wealth. Obama is an ambitious little leftist who does not have the integrity to stand up and admit to his actual agenda. Indeed, isn't it odd how often we see the same thing? Liberal politicians denying they are liberal in order to lie their way into office.

Posted by: MARKM | June 30, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

1. Was he trying to use every phrase about and by Lincoln, or did it just seem that way?

2. He remarked at the beginning that it wasn't going to be a personal speech, but then most of it was...

3. He calls out people for calling out others' patriotism, then procedes to define patriotism and rule out other actions.

4. He repeatedly says that McCain supporters should not question his patriotism and that his supporters won't question McCain's. Really? I'm pretty sure he would have everything to lose hy either's supporters questioning the other's patriotism.

He said some good things, but this was an entirely risk-free speech and as such he could have done a lot better in terms of exposition on patriotism, not talking about himself, and at least citing every Lincoln rip-off in the darn thing.

Posted by: Honest Abe | June 30, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

A true 'American Patriot' is very easy to identify.

An American Patriot, first and foremost, honors The American Constitution and The Declaration of Independence.

In other words, a true American Patriot embraces all of the provisions of our 'social contract' as stated in our 'originating documents'.

The American Patriot respects the rights of others, celebrates everyone's freedom of speech, celebrates everyone's freedom of religion, celebrates our equality under the law and under God.

An American Patriot does not abuse his rights to ridicule the rights, religion, ethnicity or reputation of another. An American Patriot is genuinely concerned for the welfare of all people and for the continued blessings of freedom and democracy.

Barack Obama and John McCain are true American Patriots.

The ultimate questions to ask of one's self is, "Am I a true American Patriot, and do I fully embrace my social contract that guarantees my personal freedoms and liberty?".

If your thoughts, actions and speech reveal a contemptible tyranny towards our countrymen then you are not a true American Patriot. Your words, then, are counterfeit, as is your loyalty to our democratic principles. As such, your freedom and liberty have not been earned because you are 'a pretender' unworthy of the blessings of our great democracy.

Posted by: John Charles Webb, Jr. | June 30, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Whether Dem. or Rep. I would hope that any "educated" person could find some inspiaration in a speech like this. We need to re-evaluate our thinking and our way of life in this country. We need to understand that everything we do comes at a cost to someone else. I am personally sick and tired of the same old politics in this country and allowing it to be ran by fear mongering, power-hungry elected officials. We should all take some time out on the 4th of July and think about what we stand for as a country and whether we want to continue down the road we are on. I really like John Mccain, but I believe it is time for someone fresh, with younger ideas to govern this country. The world will continue to evolve and change around us, we can either adapt, or isolate ourselves and become obsolete.

Posted by: mike | June 30, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Take note McStain! Thats how you make a speach!

Posted by: Larry Oregon | June 30, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I'm so moved by the speech as it gives a true meaning of being an American. I'm so proud and determine to do more to restore our country. Those who can't find it in their heart and mind to do the same should take a hard look at themselves in the mirror before calling others pretentious.

Posted by: JolieN | June 30, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

With Oil at 143 dollars a barrel and a war that's sapping 3 billion dollars a week from our economy I believe the most unpatriotic people in this country are Bush, who created these problems, McCain who will extend these problem if elected and the Republicans who support both these guys. It doesn't matter how you cut it, the Republicans have destroyed this country.

Posted by: Shawn | June 30, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

After spending 20 years listening to his mentor Jeremiah Wright damn America ... Obama is going to need the 200 million he's spending to buy the Presidency ... and manufacture the illusion that he is a patriot.

Posted by: Lee | June 30, 2008 2:04 PM

Only a dumba$$ thinks that Rev. Wright spewed hatred every Sunday for 20 years. Do some research if its that troubling to you. If you do, you'll find that the vst majority of Rev. Wrights sermons were not hateful by anyone's definition.

Posted by: NM Moderate | June 30, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

After spending 20 years listening to his mentor Jeremiah Wright damn America ... Obama is going to need the 200 million he's spending to buy the Presidency ... and manufacture the illusion that he is a patriot.

Posted by: Lee | June 30, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Wm Tate:

Obama didn't give this speech for his supporters... they aren't the ones questioning his patriotism.

So to answer you:

This isn't an odd state of affairs. If someone questioned your patriotism, you would certainly defend yourself. Obama is doing just that.

What seems so strange about that?

Posted by: Arbiter | June 30, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Great speech. It's not so odd that a candidate would give a speech about Patriotism leading up to the 4th of July. I thought he addressed it with intelligence and class. He is attempting to define himself on this issue before the Republicans and 527s try to define it for him.
Last year, on the 4th of July, I read the Declaration of Independance aout loud to my family and friends who had come over for a bar-b-que. It went over better than I could have imagined - very moving indeed! I'll be doing it again this year.

Posted by: NM Moderate | June 30, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I bet if McCain had given such an address - no one would be using the word "pretentious."

Come on! Give Obama some credit. Even if you aren't going to support him, this speech rings true.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 30, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Those who found these words inspiring and authentic is the audience Mr. Obama was speaking. Those who found it pretentious or otherwise, need to examine their hearts and minds and wonder if there is something else in them that they perhaps fear or dislike. Racism is not always done conscienciously, but it is damming non the less.

Posted by: wadone | June 30, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Pretentious? - Isn't it nice that there is some politician who speaks to those of us who havent forgotten how to think, and who doesnt treat Americans like they are idiots and can be stampeded into unAmerican ideas through the use of fear. I think its time to raise standards across the board in this country instead of glorifying the idiot citizen, which will be known as George Bush's most destructive legacy

Posted by: nclwtk | June 30, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

What an odd state of affairs, that the presidential candidate of a major political party must make such extraordinary efforts to try to convince the country he wants to lead that he is patriotic.

What does that say about the candidate, and the party that is about to nominate him?

-Wm Tate,

Posted by: Wm Tate | June 30, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Pretentious? Uh... this was a speech about how great America is. Do you find it so strange that someone would mention George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in that context?

Posted by: Sho | June 30, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Patriotism is risky business. And a Dem using that topic will appear unseemly to most voters. Pot and kettle sort of deal with what McCain has been bashed over.

Posted by: matt | June 30, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Abraham Lincoln
George Washington
Harry S Truman
Franklin Roosevelt
Barack Obama?

Is he not?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 30, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

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