This from Mike Littwin in the Rocky Mountain News this morning reads in part:
The issue, this time, was the flag-burning amendment, or, I guess, the anti-flag-burning amendment.
In support of the amendment, which is heading to the Senate, Salazar wrapped himself in the flag, in family, in country - all in one quote. He needed a big quote if he was going to explain his vote and simultaneously announce his latest break with Democratic party regulars.
His brother, of course, had already voted for the amendment in the House. Now it's unanimous in the Salazar caucus.
"For me, what comes to mind very often . . . is a flag-draped coffin of my father and his love for this country," Ken Salazar said.
Um, okay, Kenny (who was elected over Pete Coors--yeah, the beer guy--by an overwhelming Democratic/liberal coalition), but, see, the real point here is provided in Littwin's piece:
Times have changed. It used to be that sewing a flag on your jeans was a protest, and now they play the Jimi Hendrix version of the Star Spangled Banner at Little League games.
The flag vote is the kind of vote that looks like a test of patriotism - but it's a test that's easy to get wrong.
A flag is a symbol.
Free speech is what we ask people to die for.
You tolerate burning flags because toleration of dissent is an essential American value.
But, Kenny, I understand you're a little shaky in your new role. Colorado is, after all, basically a really, really red state and you, of course, are a politician and, well... Gotta feed the folks what they want, right? But, then, it was you who called James Dobson and his Focus on the Family zealots the "Antichrist." That's kinda liberal, wouldn't you say? But, you also appeared at the confirmation hearing advocating for Alberto Gonzales to be Attorney General which was kind of a red thing to do, now wasn't it. Littwin again hits the proverbial nail on the head with:
For Ken Salazar, the flag-vote announcement fits a pattern, which is meant to look like an absence of pattern. And yet, I think you can follow along.
He has split with Democrats on a major bankruptcy bill and on class-action lawsuits. His first recognized act as a senator was to introduce Alberto Gonzales, just as Democrats were accusing the new attorney general of basically condoning torture.
How do you call this man a liberal?
Salazar's answer seems to be this: very carefully.
After all, you don't win statewide races in Colorado by embracing your inner liberal.
Well, Ken, you're probably touting your repetitive tap dancing across the aisle to the other side as a matter of conscience, just voting your heart and conscience. Being the essential liberal that I am, I guess I'd have to say something like, "Bullshit!" You're being the essential politician, Kenny: day one of your six-year term you started your campaign for the next election.
Yeah, I know, you've got to exist is what is essentially a red state. But, hey, listen Kenny: my memory ain't that short. And, I expect there are a whole bunch of folks in Colorado who won't forget your pirouettes across the aisle come next election.