After two years of civil war, there are some loud voices arguing that now is the time for the United States to take strong military action in Syria.
Both Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham are deeply patriotic men. They're also extremely critical of the president's reluctance to engage in yet another foreign conflict. But they also illustrate an interesting manifestation of what patriotism now appears to mean in the minds of many Republicans.
You see, during the last election campaign, the president himself drew attention to the issue of patriotism—but not as it relates to foreign policy. Instead, he wanted a new form of patriotism here at home.
Few people would dispute the desperate need for investment in this country. Unemployment is still too high, and the sequester is threatening to make matters much worse. And that's without even mentioning the physical environment. The American Society of Civil Engineers, in its most recent report card, gives the nation's infrastructure a D+. And the same organization estimates that if roads and bridges continue to deteriorate, then it'll cost American businesses no less than $1.3 trillion in "transportation delays, blackouts and brownouts, and water main breaks."
And yet, when the president tried to propose the American Jobs Act—which independent analysts said would create as many as two million jobs, boost GDP by 1.3%, would improve the nation's infrastructure, and was fully paid for—Republicans wouldn't give it the time of day.
So they would support the president if he ventured into another war, but they won't support him when he tries to do something for the nation at home.
That's patriotism—care of the Republican Party, 2013.