QUOTE OF THE DAY…. Gail Collins reflects on the sudden interest in some corners in the issue of secession.

Weren’t there complaints, some from Texan quarters, during the last election that Barack Obama seemed insufficiently up front about his love of country? Isn’t threatening to dissolve the union over the stimulus package a little less American than failure to wear a flag pin?

Remember the time when Michelle Obama said, in a moment she spent an entire campaign trying to take back, that 2008 was the first time she could remember ever feeling really proud of her country? Can you imagine how the conservative base would have reacted if she said that it was the first time she didn’t feel like renouncing her citizenship?

It has been one of the more ironic aspects of the week, hasn’t it? The love-it-or-leave-it crowd — the same folks who equated dissent with treason not too long ago — has, after not quite three months of a Democratic administration, reached a very different conclusion about standards of patriotism in the 21st century.

Indeed, it seems like yesterday when conservative blog posts and Wall Street Journal op-eds implored the left to consider how criticism of America’s leaders necessarily undermines the country during a time of crisis. How can anyone rhetorically attack George W. Bush, the President of the United States, at a time like this? Don’t liberals know Osama bin Laden and other enemies might be wathcing? With so much at stake, can’t the left realize how it looks to the rest of the world to see Americans divided?

One assumes the next time the nation’s elected leaders are Republicans, the same activists will re-discover their discomfort with criticism of those who run the country, crisis or no crisis.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.