"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
In a Weekly Standard essay from six years ago, Noemie Emery describes what she calls the "Patriot party":
[T]hese are its planks:
* America is not merely a country; it is also a cause and a principle.
* Pursuit of this cause requires, at home, a guarantee to all of access to success, wealth, and power; and abroad, world leadership and the defense of order and freedom.
* American citizenship is a gift and a duty, and service a privilege. To deny this is to shirk one's duty to God and country.
The four charismatic presidents of the 20th century all belonged to this party, and have antecedents and cousins. The line begins with Alexander Hamilton, glory-hound and super-nationalist, who, when he failed twice to gloriously die for his country, still worked out a way in which he could. Hamilton was a hero to Theodore Roosevelt, whose only regret was that his own Spanish-American war was so negligible. This was not a problem for his fifth cousin Franklin, who faced crises so grave that he aged 30 years in his 12 years of service and died a frail old man at 63. FDR's ally in war was the ultimate glory-hound, the half-American Winston S. Churchill, who had the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" sung at his funeral. Churchill was a hero to John F. Kennedy, whose favorite programs -- the Peace Corps and space race -- were designed wholly to rouse an esprit de corps in the populace; and who gave the whole movement its signature slogan: Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.
Reagan was a member, as was Churchill, "the honorary English member of the Patriot party," she writes, and the standard bearer today is John McCain.
The TR-JFK ethic is that no obstacle is too great to be surmounted, and that people should want to do things that are difficult. The political theme of the Clinton-Gore era is that no annoyance, no matter how trivial, should have to be endured. Ask what your country can do for you, and then ask for more of it. But is this really enough?
The first man in a long time to suggest that it isn't has been John McCain. This puts him in line with an eclectic political brotherhood of TR, FDR, Reagan, and the two elder Kennedys. But FDR worshiped his Republican cousin; Reagan loved the ur-Democrat, Franklin D. Roosevelt; John F. Kennedy looked up to Churchill, his father's political enemy. Patriot themes can overcome traditional political divisions: Columnist Jack Newfield, an RFK acolyte, compares McCain to Reagan and to Bobby Kennedy, brothers under the skin.