Perhaps Michael Gerson has suffered a twinge of guilt at his recent behavior (see previous posts). Now has has stepped away from making an affirmative claims himself. Instead, he puts such views in the mouths of the average American. Such a person nearly always seems to confirm what the pundit himself or herself thinks. The Average American finds all of punditry in re flag pan to be so revealing about Obama. It just wasn't so much nonsense an obsessed press could not get past.
The issue of the lapel flag pin is a good illustration. Obama's explanation for its absence — that it had become a "substitute" for "true patriotism" in the aftermath of Sept. 11 — is perfectly rational. For a professor at the University of Chicago. Members of the knowledge class generally find his stand against sartorial symbolism to be subtle, even courageous. Most Americans, I'm willing to bet, will find it incomprehensible after 20 additional explanations, which are bound to be required. A president is expected to be a patriotic symbol himself, not the arbiter of patriotic symbols. He is supposed to be the face-painted superfan at every home game; to wear red, white and blue boxers on special marital occasions; to get misty-eyed during the most obscure patriotic hymns.
The problem here is not that Obama is unpatriotic — a foolish, unfair, destructive charge — but that Obama has declared himself superior to an almost universal form of popular patriotism. And this sense of superiority, revealed in case after case, has political consequences, because the Obama narrative reinforces the Democratic narrative. It is now possible to imagine Obama at a cocktail party with Kerry, Al Gore and Michael Dukakis, sharing a laugh about gun-toting, Bible-thumping, flag-pin-wearing, small-town Americans.
Now that strikes me as absolutely snobby–even if he says it's snobby, it's still snobby. What's worse is that it doesn't make any attempt to support it's broad empirical generalizations with facts about how real Americans feel about flag pins and the President "embodying" patriotism. Perhaps–just a suggestion without empirical basis (I'm a philosopher, I don't need facts)–real Americans have had enough of that.