Fred Barnes devotes his latest Weekly Standard column to mocking Democrats for their "paranoia" over being branded unpatriotic, then invokes a Joe Klein column to conclude that Obama has "a problem with patriotism."

There's a difference--a significant one--between being falsely called unpatriotic and having what Joe Klein of Time defines as a problem with patriotism. "Patriotism is, sadly, a crucial challenge for Obama now," Klein wrote. Why? Not because of Republicans, but because the Jeremiah Wright flap and Michelle Obama's comments and the flag pin incident "have fed a scurrilous undercurrent of doubt about whether he is 'American' enough." Absent the "scurrilous undercurrent" bit and Klein's silly notion that the "liberal message" is more patriotic than the "innate" pessimism of conservatism, Klein is on to something.

Klein's point seems to have been that as a strategic political matter, Obama needs to spend more time talking about the greatness of America and the glory of the flag. But then, if I read right, Barnes takes it quite a bit farther to suggest that doubt about whether Obama is 'American enough' might be 'something' more than scurrilous. Paranoia indeed.

--Michael Crowley