9:00 a.m. May 11, 2011 | There's no question that Americanism, who counts as an American, what being an American means, is an issue for the left and the right. Today's program at the Hudson Institute comes at an interesting time.
Just the other week, I had watched part of an interview with Franklin Graham, Billy Graham's son and CEO of the faith-based Samaritan's Purse, in which Graham just about couldn't give President Obama credit for his words. It isn't that a Christian is more American somehow than a Muslim, but Graham was hard presed to accept Obama on his word that despite his time as a youth in Indonesia, he was not a Muslim. A television ad for MSNBC has Chris Matthews challenging conservatives that Obama may disagree with them about taxes and the budget and other policies, but they should admit that he is no less American, no less patriotic than they--and Matthews playing his typical "Hardball" alleges that Obama's Republican challengers just won't do it. Now in the wake of the death of Osama bin Laden, Obama's poll numbers have risen and he seems to have been accepted by a few more people as a true patriot because of his gutsy direction to Navy Seals to go after bin Laden on the ground in Pakistan.
Will the conservative theorists and pundits gathered by the Hudson Institute accept Obama as an American because of his anti-terrorism actions or because, regardless of his beliefs against Don't Ask Don't Tell, his support for the stimulus, his 180 degree differences with some Republicans on budget and tax policy? Will they be instructing conservative nonprofits to think differently about the Americanism and patriotism of the left wing whose policy stances they oppose? Will liberal nonprofits also think differently about Americanism, about the legitimacy of the beliefs and values of conservatives even if they find their perspectives anathema to what they hold to as important?