Obama: Only one national anthem

Barack Obama picked some low-hanging fruit and scored some points in Denver today, after a local jazz singer substituted what some called the “black national anthem” for the Star Spangled Banner at a municipal event.  Saying that Rene Marie should have sung what she promised, Obama made clear that he only recognizes one national anthem for Americans:

Sen. Barack Obama said today a jazz singer’s decision to sing the ‘Black National Anthem’ at Denver’s State of the City speech this week was wrong.

“Well, ‘Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing’ is a beautiful song that has been sung in African-American churches and other events for a very long time,” Obama told the Rocky in phone interview. “We only have one National Anthem. And so, if she was asked to sing the National Anthem, she should have sung that. ‘Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing’ is a beautiful song, but we only have one National Anthem.”

Obama’s comments came as the controversy over Rene Marie’s rendition entered its third day.

Think of it as a milder version of a Sister Souljah moment.  Obama took the opportunity to burnish his message on patriotism while jumping to the head of the bandwagon.  He also deftly defused an issue that could have smoldered all the way to the convention.

It’s a smart move with almost no downside.  Well played.