To his credit, Michael Smerconish, sitting in for Bill O'Reilly, had the courage to read portions of this column from the Philadelphia Inquirer out loud. Oddly, Smerconish indicated that he had problems with the column, but he defended it, sort of, by noting that a recent poll found that two-thirds of Americans consider dissent a patriotic act.
I don't quite see what difference the poll makes. Since establishing America was in itself an act of dissent, dissent is patriotic at its core, regardless of how many people agree or disagree with that notion.
The Inquirer column made me feel a bit patriotic, unsettled, proud and envious -- because he had thought to write it, instead of me. The crucial point is that all of the high and mighty talk about liberty and freedom that the founding fathers crafted arose not out of ease and reflection but out of struggle, suffering and a deeply divided country. If they could endure what they did without compromising fundamental principles, then what excuse do we have?
UPDATE: I meant to mention the weird fill-in on Limbaugh's show on Thursday. I forgot his name, and it isn't worth looking up, but he started off by accusing Wesley Clark of "smearing" John McCain's military service by pointing out that flying an airplane doesn't necessarily qualify one to be president. Then, within 10 minutes, the host passed along exactly the same "smear," if smear it is, against George McGovern, who he said was a hero as a bomber pilot in World War II but that didn't qualify him to be president. When a caller objected, he denied that he had smeared McGovern.
How is it possible to distinguish between the two? Only one way I can see: McGovern had a D after his name. McCain had an R. Any other comparison is irrelevant.