In the good old days—I think this lasted until September 11, 2001, but I could be mistaken—political events of all sorts didn't begin with a series of opportunities for both speakers and attendees to make sure everyone understood that they are, in fact, in favor of America. Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy didn't start their debates with the Pledge of Allegiance. Candidates didn't feel the need to stand with hand on heart for the Star Spangled Banner at all 12 campaign events they do every day. And we were spared horror shows like this:
The best part is how at the end, just in case anyone missed the point, Romney says, "I love this country." Nothing forced or pandering about that. My question is, where does he stand on Little League and Thanksgiving dinner? What about puppies—is he pro-puppy, or not? America needs to know.
You might remember that in Iowa, Romney would recite the words to "America the Beautiful," but I guess now he's feeling confident enough to just let the tunes fly. And as we move into the general election, you're going to see more, not less, of this. Let's not forget that Romney wrote an entire book (No Apology: The Case for American Greatness) built around the utterly fictitious premise that Barack Obama has gone around the world "apologizing for America." Incredibly, no reporter that I've seen has actually asked Romney to explain this charge, despite the fact that he's made it hundreds of times and that it's a complete lie. But anyhow, once he's no longer running against other Republicans, who presumably also are favorably inclined toward the Land of the Free, Romney will be able to unbridle his patriotism as he contrasts himself with that Europe-loving Kenyan socialist in the White House.
The good news is that it's likely to be a remarkably ineffective line of attack. When you're running against an incumbent president, it's really hard to make that kind of character argument. People's feelings about who Barack Obama is deep down in his soul are pretty well established. You may be able to convince them that things in the country aren't going as well as they should, and it's time for a change, but you're not going to convince too many of them to believe something they don't already believe about a president they've been watching for three years. And the people who do already believe that Obama hates America aren't the ones Romney has to persuade.