On the heels of news that millions of American flags are actually imported from China, Republican presidential nominee John McCain addressed the issue this Fourth of July morning outside a flag factory in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
"All options must be on the table to deal with China's infiltration of our flag market," McCain said to a cheering and U.S.-made flag-waving crowd. "If we find that China manufactured and sold us these millions of American flags intentionally and for the purpose of tainting our great country in any way, we might have no other option than to bomb these Chinese flag production sites and trade routes, their business associates, and their friends and family."
McCain went on to declare, "My friends, our flag is all we have. I'll say this to you as plainly as possible - if an American flag and a baby were on fire, you have my solemn word I wouldn't think of coming to that baby's aid until every last ember was extinguished from Old Glory. My friends, babies of course come and go, but our forefathers fought and died to preserve that flag, and" - pounding the podium - "I will not stand by while the Chinese sell millions of them to us through their handiwork and our mutual trade deals!"
The GOP presidential candidate also challenged Barack Obama to stand up for the U.S. flag.
"If Senator Obama truly loves our flag, if he sees not only stars whenever he's struck in the head but, as I do, also stripes, then he should tell the American people he's willing to attack China if that's what it takes to protect the sanctity of the red, white and blue."
Last night, on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, Williams discussed a possible attack against China with Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel.
"Richard, tell us what happens if we strike China."
"Well, it's all about the imports. Currently, we still receive the majority of our imports from China, everything from baby bottles to shrimp and catfish to breast implants. If the Chinese government were to suddenly cut off that flow, it would be a blow to our already reeling economy. You also risk stirring the hatred of China's 1.4 billion people."
"Import issues. A testy Chinese population. Okay," said Williams. "But the bottom line - would bombing China help us return to a time when U.S. flags are only made here in America?"
"Well, I talked to a import/export analyst today, Brian. He told me, "If you carpet bomb China, ninety-eight percent, maybe even one hundred percent of the flags thereafter will be made in the USA."
"And that's what's at stake here. The result of such a military action could finally bring our flag home. Thanks, Richard."
Speaking today with MSNBC's Morning Joe anchor Joe Scarborough, political analyst Pat Buchanan argued, "Joe, America must be willing to draw the line somewhere. First, some Belgians try to buy Budweiser. Now we hear the Red Chinese are making our flags? What's next, Joe? Hemp baseballs? Falafel dogs? Baklava instead of apple pie? Little American boys and girls selling mango lassi for five cents instead of lemonade?" Buchanan also urged a military strike. "Joe, the infiltration of these Communist-made U.S. flags is our new Pearl Harbor. I'm against any kind of occupation. But Americans were completely taken by surprise with this, and the Chinese should be hit and hit hard if they've used our trade deals covertly to dupe us into pledging allegiance to a flag made by Chinamen."
In a promo for tonight's Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN, Cooper asked, "Is the American flag Barack Obama's Willie Horton? Now that John McCain has taken the ultimate stand for Old Glory, is Senator Obama willing to carpet bomb China to protect our country's flag? Or will he stumble into the political minefield laid today by a straight-shooting John McCain and add another page to the Democrats' long history of neglecting the stars and stripes. Tonight on 360."
In a New York Times op-ed titled "The Flags of Our Fathers," columnist Thomas Friedman called the Chinese-made U.S. flags "a fiasco but a manageable one if the right steps are taken."
"We would all do well to remember the Chinese are human beings just like us," wrote Friedman. "Therefore a free-flowing market is also in their blood. But the hidden hand of the market never works without the hidden fist. So do we strike China? The key word is we. It's clear that some action must be taken, but attacking China unilaterally shouldn't be our first choice. We want to be seen as strong but not a bully. The loss of human capital is a tricky game. By recruiting other reliable allies in our bombing efforts - England, Tonga, Azerbaijan, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Micronesia, just name a few - America can turn a military transaction into an effective campaign to open new markets while simultaneously helping China manage its overpopulation. In other words, on this Fourth of July, I say give war a chance!"