It probably wasn’t the wisest thing for Barack Obama to say, and he’s backtracking now–but I can certainly understand why he was less than proud of our country’s behavior starting, say, in the fall of 2002.
I mean, you had an administration that went to war arrogantly, stupidly and without good reason.
You had an administration that inflated a real, but not very powerful, enemy–salafist Islam–into an existential threat for partisan political gain.
You had an administration that endorsed torture, lied about rescinding that endorsement and then secretly re-endorsed it.
You had an administration that endorsed the troglyditic religious views of Christian fundamentalist mullahs, intervening in the private life or death decision of the Schiavo family, blocking legitimate scientific research, and even refusing to allow literature at the Grand Canyon that mentioned the real age of that marvel because it contradicted the Book of Genesis.
You had an administration that refused to lead, or even join, the rest of the world in an effort to combat global warming.
I could go on. I adore this country and abhor those, especially those lucky enough to live here, who don’t. But to the extent that wearing an American flag lapel pin could be misconstrued as support for the most disgraceful administration in my lifetime, perhaps in American history, I can certainly understand why Barack Obama had reservations about it.
And furthermore, as David Brooks points out today, the Bush Administration has betrayed the Burkean spirit of conservatism.