For the record, I’m not particularly passionate about the flag pin one way or another. I don’t wear one. In the spirit of Office Space, I’m not much one for flair. I agree with some readers who don’t like the enforced conformity of the thing. But I think that once you buy into the symbolism of the flag pin, you’re invested in it and your views become a bit more relevant. So Obama’s Hamlet act on the pin is revealing as is his inconsistency.
An imperfect analogy: if Joe Lieberman always wore a yarmulke and then stopped wearing it when he ran for vice-president, that would be more relevant than if he’d never wore one at all.
I should also say that some of the attempts to turn the lapel flag thing into a de mimimis issue leave me underwhelmed as well. “It’s just a lapel pin!” seems to be a common refrain among liberals flabbergasted that they’re on defense about all this. I understand, at least when the frustration is in good faith. But it’s really not just a lapel pin any more than the flag is just a piece of cloth at the end of a stick. Even flag burners acknowledge this point, which is why they burn flags and not blankets or bar towels. If John McCain wore a confederate flag lapel pin, very few of these people would be saying “it’s just a lapel pin.” Symbolism matters. Symbols stand for something. That’s why we call them symbols.