Like the U.S. army major who "saved" a Vietnamese village by destroying it, the patriotic traitor seeks to preserve his country by bringing it down. Recently I watched Seven Days in May . In this political thriller, an American president has negotiated a nuclear disarmament treaty with the Soviets over the objection of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a four-star general played by Burt Lancaster. After the Senate ratifies the treaty, the general is certain the Soviets have pulled a fast one and will soon launch a first strike. So he plots to overthrow the government. The president gets wind of the coup and, in a tense scene scripted by Rod Serling, confronts the general in the Oval Office: "You want to defend the United States of America, then defend it with the tools it supplies you with -- its Constitution! You ask for a mandate, general -- from a ballot box! You don't steal it after midnight, when the country has its back turned."
The president's words are dismissed by the general, who can't accept that his warped sense of patriotism has driven him to commit treason. Of course, he's a fictional character. Sarah Palin, however, is real, although she often acts like something conjured up in a novelist's overheated imagination. Her deliberately distortive statement on President Obama's health care plan, in which she again exploits her son Trig, is just the latest rhetorical IED detonated by an increasingly unhinged right-wing insurgency. The Soylent Green scenario she paints, in which the elderly and disabled will be euthanized and then presumably rendered into energy bars, should disqualify her from further consideration as a serious contender for high office. And yet her supporters will hail this patriotic traitor as a great American.
That's the third time I've used the T-word. I want to be careful: I'm not accusing Obama's opponents of treason. Republicans are the ones who regard their presidents as monarchs. From Sept. 12, 2001 till the Iraq war started going south in the summer of 2003, you were subject to attack if you criticized George W. Bush. Let's not forget what happened to the Dixie Chicks for delivering an innocuous slap to this insecure little man. But there were many low-profile examples of harassment and intimidation against those who wouldn't keep quiet about the emperor's butt-nakedness.
So go ahead, say any non-racist thing you please about Obama. That's one of our strengths. Gore Vidal put it best in his response to "an apostle of good taste at The New York Times," who took exception to his treatment of Richard Nixon: "The apostle was English and did not know that although the sovereign of his native islands is called Our Queen, the emperor of the West is known to us aficionados as The Goddamned President."
When I call Sarah Palin a patriotic traitor, I'm not equating her with Benedict Arnold, Vidkun Quisling, or Kim Philby. She's not aiding and abetting a foreign power. Note the adjective. I have no reason to doubt that she loves the United States. But like the general in Seven Days in May, she'll go to any length to maintain her parochial and jingoistic image of it. As would Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, the teabaggers, the birthers, and the deathers.
On November 2, 2004, these people were content with the U.S. government. Bush was reelected and the Republicans won decisive majorities in both houses. Five years later, they loathe and distrust their leaders. I wonder what happened. They revere the Constitution, but were silent when the Bush-Cheney administration repeatedly violated it, especially the Fourth Amendment. They never questioned the trillion-plus dollars we poured into an unnecessary war, but when Obama proposes to spend as much on a health care plan they squeal like pigs. As Christopher Hitchens likes to say, you can't eat enough to vomit enough at such hypocrisy. But they're not hypocrites! Not in their eyes. Their cognitive dissonance is as profound as their belief system is primitive. If Bush had nuked Tehran, they would have gone out the next morning and justified mass murder. If the U.S. military did attempt a coup against Obama, they would find ways to defend that as well. Their values and morals hide their seething nihilism. It's a miracle, then, that no one has been injured during these town hall debates.
But if Obama passes health care reform, if the sane majority stick with him, watch out. The patriotic traitor will show his true colors, and they're not red, white and blue.