10/13/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

"Country First"

My weekly newspaper column, out today in national papers, takes a hard look at the Republican convention, and specifically, at the notion that the GOP puts "country first." You can read it here.

The meta narrative of the campaign right now is pretty simple: The GOP has made a political strategy out of the old adage that "patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels." Knowing that the Bush-DeLay-Abramoff scandals (which continued this week) have made many Americans believe the Republicans are scoundrels, the Republicans are doing everything they can to make the campaign into a competition over who can be more hypernationalist. This is the saber rattling of the 2004 campaign on steroids.

The mixture of John McCain stressing his Vietnam record and Sarah Palin consolidating the GOP base with her Bible-thumping record really brings into full relief that old warning that I invoke in the column: namely, that extremism will come to America wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.

So what can Democrats do about it all? I'd say two things.

1) Not get rattled, and keep on pushing the change message. I think Barack Obama's team has this right - that while they need to adjust a bit (see #2), McCain's decision to superficially focus in on the concept of "change" is ultimately a very good thing for Democrats.

2) Draw the contrast more starkly than ever. I have been on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News making exactly this point this week. Through issues like NAFTA and the Iraq War, Obama can really show how McCain is not only out of touch with America, but is uninterested in truly putting our "country first."

You can read the full column at the San Francisco Chronicle, Denver Post, Tahoe Tribune, Ft. Collins Coloradoan, Lewiston Sun-Journal, In These Times, TruthDig, Credo Action or Creators Syndicate's website.

The column relies on grassroots support, so if you'd like to see my column regularly in your local paper, use this directory to find the contact info for your local editorial page editors. Get get in touch with them and point them to my Creators Syndicate site. Thanks, as always, for your ongoing readership and help contacting local editors. This column couldn't be what it is without your help.