Some candidates wear their patriotism on their sleeve … or their lapel, to be more accurate. Whether or not they love their country is determined by whether or not they have a flag pinned to their jacket.

Some candidates parade their patriotism around as if it were required by the Constitution. Or as if it were a contest to see who loves America more.

Sometimes I wonder why the race for the presidency often turns into a fight over which candidate loves the country more … or which candidate hates it more. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard some talking head ask, “Why does Barack Obama hate America?” Of course the question assumes that Barack Obama hates America. It’s kind of like the question, “When did you stop beating your wife?” There’s not good way to answer it.

Sen. John McCain has positioned himself as a God-fearing, America-loving veteran, whose record of patriotism could not be questioned. After all, he was a prisoner of war. And that brings with it some assumptions, too. The assumption being that since John McCain was a prisoner of war – and just as importantly, that he was a veteran of war – that he must love this great republic of ours more than some guy whose name rhymes with Osama.

Interesting that four years ago, the same assumptions did not hold true. Democrats figured that nominating John Kerry – a veteran of Viet Nam himself – would give them the patriotic edge over George W. Bush, who not only did not serve … he disappeared during ‘Nam. That edge never held true because of the trump card that Democrats didn’t figure on: Republicans are automatically more patriotic than Democrats (at least according to talk radio).

In fact, while George W. Bush’s record of non-service seemed okay with the likes of Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh … John Kerry’s documented service was was questioned by the same types … with a lot of help from a group of professional reputational hitmen, “Swiftboat Veterans for Truth.”

It was so successful, that the term “Swiftboat” was immediately added to the American lexicon, defined as “successfully lie about someone or something.”

At the time, John McCain spoke out against the “Swiftboat” group. Now, he’s hired one of them to work on his own campaign. Hmm.

Meanwhile, Gen. Wesley Clark – an Obama supporter – said “I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.”

Of course, the GOP and McCain himself were all upset by the comment, demanding a retraction or apology from Clark. You can’t, after all, question a war hero.

Funny, the Republican party always comes up with these strange rules: You can’t question the president in the time of war. You can’t say anything negative about America outside her borders. You can’t tell the truth about their nominee if it puts him in a bad light. Etc …

How long until they start calling Wesley Clark. How long until I hear, “Why does Wesley Clark hate America?”

Not long, I’d guess. After all, he can’t be patriotic, he only spent 34 years in the Army.