The question is asked in two new polls. The first one is from Rasmussen, and even though the pollster's surveys usually have a rightward skew, it shows that a majority of respondents actually do think Obama loves his country:
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 35% of Likely U.S. Voters agree with this statement made last week by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani -- “I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.” Just over half (51%) disagree with this comment, but another 14% are not sure.However, Republicans overwhelmingly believe Obama doesn't love America:
Sixty-two percent (62%) of Republican voters do not believe Obama loves the nation he leads. Seventy-seven percent (77%) of Democrats and unaffiliated voters by a 48% to 33% margin say that’s not true.And a YouGov poll yields similar results:
Overall, 47% of respondents said they believe the president loves his country while 35% said he does not. But the split between Democrats and Republicans on the issue is what was truly striking. While 85% of Democrats believe Obama loves America and just 6% say he does not, a whopping 69% of Republicans came down on Giuliani’s side while just 11% said the opposite.
Dear pollsters: Please keep polling this question. But don't just poll it in reference to Obama. I want to know whether Americans think Hillary Clinton is patriotic, or George W. Bush, or John Boehner, or Nancy Pelosi. And I'd like to see the breakdown by party. I'd also like to know whether Republicans think the typical Democrat loves or hates America, and vice versa.
I have no hard evidence for this, but I have a gut sense that Republicans, if asked, would say that every contemporary Democrat is unpatriotic. But I don't believe Democrats would say the same thing about Republicans. We can't go back in time, yet I think the majority of Democrats would have said George W. Bush loves his country, even at the low point of his popularity.
The fact is, most Democrats aren't fire-breathing ideologues. Election results show that we're approximately at 50-50 nation -- Democrats do better in presidential elections, Republicans in other elections, but there's a rough balance overall -- and yet Gallup's ongoing surveys of ideology show that there are far more self-identified conservatives in America than self-identified liberals. The remainder of Americans call themselves moderates -- and these days, I assume, a greater percentage of those moderates vote Democratic.
I don't even think it's a reflex for dyed-in-the-wool liberals to accuse conservatives of disloyalty to the country. Sure, we make "Why does [X] hate America?" jokes, and sometimes they're more than jokes, but lack of patriotism is rarely the first charge in our indictments of Republicans. And Democratic politicians rarely talk this way -- yes, conservatives never stop whining about the fact that Obama once said it was "unpatriotic" for Bush to run up large debts, but even then Obama wasn't saying that Bush was essentially unpatriotic -- he just said that that was an unpatriotic deed.
When we have right-wingers like Glenn Reynolds arguing that vast swaths of the U.S. electorate are unpatriotic, I think it's clear that there's a large McCarthyism gap between the parties. So let's survey it. Do Republicans really believe that everyone who disagrees with them is a traitor? Are Democrats less inclined to think that way? And if so, what does that say about our continued ability to coexist -- and about who, exactly, is dividing us as a nation?