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Change Has Come to “America!”

I’ve just returned home from a week-long trip to Washington, and I feel compelled to share a small observation from my travels. 

There is a store called America! at Reagan Airport that peddles all sorts of DC-related memorabilia, trinkets, etc. Its strategic location in the terminal makes it nearly impossible to avoid on the way to baggage claim. The last two times I strolled past this establishment, I could have be been forgiven for mistaking it for an Obama merchandise outlet. Life-sized cutouts of the president and first lady greeted shoppers in the doorway, flanked by red, white, and blue displays of pro-Obama T-shirts, hats, pins, and other assorted flair. Welcome to DC!  Now buy some super cool, Obama-glorifying gear!  Obama’s name and image was seemingly inescapable.  (Some things never change).  Ramesh wrote a good-natured piece for Time back in January that captured many conservative’s slight irritation at this phenomenon.

When I arrived at Reagan last week, however, a thrill ran up my leg. America! was loaded with anti-Obama goods. T-shirts reading, “Don’t blame me, I voted for McCain/Palin!” and “I love my country; it’s the government I’m scared of” were the featured must-haves, alongside mugs emblazoned with the ubiquitous Obama ‘O’ logo, embedded in the word ”NOPE!”

Cynics (read: sane people) might argue the store’s proprietors were simply catering to the 9/12 protest crowd that had recently passed through the city. After all, this is still America, and you can’t fault them for trying to make a buck. Or can you? Consult the Pay Czar. I, however, prefer to view the merchandise turnabout as a symbol of America’s fairly dramatic shift from feverish adulation of our new president to a prevailing sense of cautious skepticism and growing opposition.

As the president himself once triumphantly declared: Change has come to America!

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