A Facebook friend, Amy Goldman, an embittered Hillary Clinton supporter who now is supporting John McCain, pointed earlier today to Krauthammer's column on the subject and said simply, "the faces of obama. NO DEAL," presumably meaning that Obama's seeming lapel pin "hypocrisy" is one more reason she will not be reconciled to his nomination for the presidency.
Frankly, both Obama and his assailants crack me up on this "issue." There are several reasons for my chuckling.
First of all, wearing a pin is no proof of patriotism. It's the easiest thing in the world to don a patriotic lapel pin, irrespective of one's true sentiments. (Although I must confess that every time I've owned and put on flag lapel pins, they've fallen off within hours, a problem I've not encountered with pins of any other type.) Inauthentic or showy patriotism often is the last refuge of political scoundrels.
Secondly, because a flag lapel pin really is no proof of one's patriotism, Obama shouldn't be so defensive about the matter. Now, he looks ridiculous whenever he puts a flag pin in his lapel, tacitly agreeing with the purveyors of photo op patriotism, pandering to them.
I wonder though how many folks who are exercised about this issue though, wear flag pins every time they're in public? I doubt it.
When I pointed this out to Amy Goldman, she didn't agree, saying that, as a presidential candidate, Obama should be held to a higher standard for patriotism than others.
But I don't think that we should have separate standards for presidents or would-be presidents from what we expect of other citizens. Are flag lapel pins now required of all citizens, a la loyalty oaths from the McCarthy era?
We ought to have other measures of the sort of patriotism that commends people for public office, including the presidency. The criteria might include:
1. Evidencing taking the time to be informed about public policy issues.If these attributes of citizenship are absent, no flag lapel pin will compensate for their lack. If they're present, no flag lapel pin will make the wearer any worthier for office.
2. Voting regularly in those candidate and issue races in which they've become informed and being honest enough to refrain from voting in those races in which they feel they're insufficiently informed.
3. Regularly engaging in service to neighbors and community and when possible, to the country.
4. Displaying an openness to hearing others out, even when their views differ from their own.
5. Displaying a maturing awareness of the country's history and principles.
6. Believing in the Constitution.
7. If a veteran, having a record of honorable service.
So far as I can remember, none of the country's greatest presidents wore US flag lapel pins. Not Washington, Lincoln, either Roosevelt, or Eisenhower.
Is Obama a patriot? I don't know. But a piece of metal or plastic on his suit coat won't answer that question either.