Some of the commenters say the left is unduly obsessed with its perceived lack of patriotism. I don't think that's the case; rather, I think the suspicion that the left has learned to be reflexively anti-American is one of the reasons Kerry lost the election. And I think the perception bodes danger for the U.S. political system, if it continues to grow.
But at the same time I've come to view a person's ability to express positive things about the U.S. as a test to distinguish the honest left from the pod-people, Chomskyites, and Moore-istas.
Pressed for time in a political debate and want to cut to the chase? Politely ask him or her to talk for three minutes non-stop about what's great about America. "It's the gateway to Canada" doesn't count.
It's a shibboleth, if you will, but in the original sense of that word. Shibboleth is just an everyday Hebrew word, but in the Old Testament it was the password the Gileadites used to distinguish their own men from fleeing Ephraimites, because Ephraimites could not pronounce the -sh- sound in it. Just like the Italians used cicera "chick pea," to identify the French (who could not pronounce it correctly) trying to escape massacre in the Sicilian Vespers in 1282. One of my etymology correspondents, Dan Sachs, has informed me of another instance of this, which I'd love to track down and verify: Marines on Guadalcanal, he says, used "lollapalooza" as a password because Japanese can't pronounce "-L-" (Japanese is one of the many languages that has no such sound). It comes out "Roraparooza."
BTW, the second link above has a link to this site, which, like several other Typepad sites I've seen, renders its text lines as a jumbled mess in my version of Internet Explorer. Is anyone else seeing that?