NEWS

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October 17, 2007

Lapel-gate

Most people probably haven't heard of the quasi-controversy involving Barack Obama and the American flag lapel pin (lapel-gate?, flag-gate?), but some conservatives want to change that.The New York Times recently reported that Sen. Obama had "stopped wearing an American flag pin on his lapel years ago." According to Obama,

"My attitude is that I'm less concerned about what you're wearing on your lapel than what's in your heart. You show your patriotism by how you treat your fellow Americans, especially those who served."
And he's absolutely right, and good for him for saying it! The American flag pins are are a dime a dozen--and so are politicians who wear them-- and pretty meaningless; they have also diluted, in my view, the importance of the flag as a symbol ofour country.Mike Gallagher, however, knows better. Gallagher, a radio talk show host and author of such tomes as Surrounded by Idiots: Fighting Liberal Lunacy in America, starts his Townhall column, "Senator Obama's brand of Patriotism" by cleverly mischaracterizing the situation by presenting it wildly out of context, saying, "an American presidential candidate refuses to display an American flag." Gallagher goes on to make the absolutely ridiculous claim that the supposed scarcity of American flags (as compared to right after 9/11) has something to do with American discontent with the war in Iraq.But Gallagher is not finished with Obama, opining, without a shred of evidence, "Liberals like Barack Obama just don’t love our country very much."Now, I'm no Obama fan--my first column ever for the Maroon was about how he's overrated--but Gallagher's point is just laughable. Unfortunately, Obama shouldn't get off scot-free either: In the same New York Times article he is quoted as saying,
"But after a while, you start noticing people wearing a lapel pin, but not acting very patriotic. Not voting to provide veterans with resources that they need. Not voting to make sure that disability payments were coming out on time."
Obama is playing a game similar to Gallagher's in questioning people's patriotism based on Congressional votes.In the end though, Obama is right: What makes a patriot isn't the symbols he wears or the things he says--it's the way he acts.