The Campaign Spot

We May See a Return To the Issue of the Flag Pin

Karl Rove, in today’s Wall Street Journal:

Take, for example, Mr. Obama’s declaration that “true patriotism” consists of speaking out on the issues, not wearing a flag lapel pin, a practice he has given up. Mrs. Clinton could say people can do both and if Sen. Obama decided not to wear a flag pin, he shouldn’t question the “true patriotism” of those who chose to wear one. The blue-collar/lunch-pail crowd who’ve given Mrs. Clinton critical support would respond to that.

Also, Rove gave a longer version of this point to Fox News:

ROVE: Alan, I am just asking for consistency. If he was that tough last week, he should have been that tough last night. And he wasn’t. Look, with all due respect, he is a very left-wing Democrat. He came out of a very radical background in organizing. His record in the Senate is the most liberal, according to the “National Journal.” He has been a conventional far-left Democrat. And we ought to recognize that. As a result, he has these associations and these people he has been comfortable being with who are not in mainstream America. Look, after 9/11, when he said true patriotism did not consist of wearing a lapel pin – – an American flag lapel pin on your lapel, but instead speaking out on the issues, he was basically, with the back of his hand, being very dismissive to millions of Americans who thought it was a patriotic act to put a flag pin on their lapel.
COLMES: Does he lack patriotism because he does not wear a lapel pan? Is he basically saying, patriotism isn’t about a pin? That is his point of view.
ROVE: Alan, I didn’t say that. What he said was that people — he was implicating that people who did wear a flag on the lapel were not true patriots. My point is not — in America, you get to decide whether you want to wear a flag lapel pin or not. What he did though was say, it was true patriotism to speak out on the issue, not to wear a flag lapel pen. He was the one questioning the patriotism of people with flags on their lapels.
COLMES: I didn’t get that from what he said. What I got –
ROVE: Read the statement carefully. He said, true patriotism — quote, true patriotism consisted of speaking out on the issues, not wearing a flag lapel pin.
COLMES: He wasn’t questioning people who wore it. He was questioning the war.
ROVE: No, he was questioning the patriotism of those who did put a flag on their lapel. Admit it. I’m not questioning his patriotism. But he certainly questioned the patriotism of millions of people who felt the simple gesture of putting the flag on their lapel was a patriotic act, and it was.

For reference, Obama’s original statement:

Instead the Illinois senator answered the question at length, explaining that he no longer wears such a pin, at least in part, because of the Iraq War.

“You know, the truth is that right after 9/11, I had a pin,” Obama said. “Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we’re talking about the Iraq War, that became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security, I decided I won’t wear that pin on my chest.

You choose not to wear the flag pin, fine. But if you suggest that those who wear it are doing so as a substitute for “true patriotism,” well … you’ve just effectively questioned the patriotism of everyone who does choose to wear the pin.
And you know, they may not take kindly to that. 

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