Happy days are indeed here again, as they were in that time of peace and prosperity we remember as the Clinton administration. But we cannot say with equal conviction that It's a Grand Old Flag (again). It kind of depends on which side you're looking at.
There's no sign that the Tea Party now rejects the contemptible way it treated Max Cleland, when Cleland was a U.S. senator and a candidate for re-election who'd lost both legs in Vietnam*. There's no indication the Republican Right regrets its atrocious attacks on Cleland. (How dare he lose limbs without Rush Limbaugh's permission?)
Similarly, there's no indication the Grand Old Party feels inclined, as it should, to apologize for its mistreatment of John Kerry. Kerry had been a true American hero during the Vietnam War. He was mocked for it by Republicans, including some Arkansas Republicans. Remember the right-wing Arkansas church that sneered at Kerry? Who would ever have expected such a thing? Or tolerated it?
But Republicans, including Arkansas Republicans, are proud of their patriotism again. Arkansas Republicans are running a U.S. Senate candidate of whom nothing else favorable could be said, except that he served in his country's uniform. Intellect? Compassion? There's no hint of such things.
There's a back story here. Arkansas Republicans don't love military service more. They hate more Democrats who didn't serve, particularly Sen. Mark Pryor. Similarly, Republicans hated Sen. Mark's father, Sen. David Pryor, not because he wasn't a veteran, but because he didn't kowtow to the Hussmann family. The Hussmans are accustomed to losing to the Pryors, and to hating them for it. This year, with their allies, the Koch brothers, the Hussmans see a chance for victory for themselves and their reactionary political views. There's nothing grand about that old flag.
A previous version mistakenly said that Max Cleland lost his legs in World War II.