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Breaking News: Obama caves! Flag pin returns to his coat lapel

OMG, will you look at that? Amazing what a protracted primary struggle amid bitter small towns will do to previously stated political positions.

The flag pin is back on the lapel of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. No, really. AFTER PHOTO Look very closely at the left coat lapel of Illinois senator and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama speaking in Pennsylvania Tuesday There's the famous flag pin back on his chestLook closely at his left lapel in this photo from MSNBC on Tuesday.

You may recall Obama removed the lapel flag pin last fall as something of a gesture of independence if you're an Obama fan -- or an act of defiant antiwar non-patriotism if you're not.

At the time Obama removed the pin, which most politicians had worn on their suit coats since 9/12 as a sign of patriotism, solidarity with 9/11 victims and their families and national support for American troops.

However, when a sharp-eyed local ABC-TV reporter in Iowa asked him, half-jokingly, about it in October, Obama went on to explain seriously at some length:

"You know, the truth is that right after 9/11, I had a pin. 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.

"Instead," Obama added rather grandiosely, "I'm going to try to tell....

the American people what I believe will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism."

Of course, removal of the little symbol could also be framed as a statement of principle that usefully An American flag lapel pin like Democratic senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama has not been wearing until April  15 2008 underlined his oft-stated and long-standing opposition to the Iraq war unlike, say, some other Democratic senators who wanted to be president and voted to authorize use of force in Iraq.

The little flag's big disappearance aroused considerable controversy at the time. It was tied in with the fraudulent photo of Obama not placing his hand over his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance, thus publicly displaying a lack of patriotism.

"It just shows you he's not ready for prime time," said Laura Ingraham, the conservative commentator.

Once the flames of controversy really got roaring, Obama reasonably explained, "I'm less concerned with 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 serve. And you show your patriotism by being true to your values and ideals. And that's what we have to lead with, our values and ideals." But it was too late by then.

OK, he weathered that one and has done just fine on the delegate-collection side of things ever since, wearing naked lapels. Although the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's sermon about the chickens coming home to roost on American shores on 9/11 re-created some awkward moments for Obama.

But, whoa, there he was Tuesday on national television at a Keystone State town hall meeting trying, with some success, according to recent polls, to play catch-up to Sen. Hillary Clinton in the next key Democratic primary state of Pennsylvania, which votes April 22.

And there, like a screaming eagle proclaiming Obama's patriotism for all the bitter, disgruntled voters of small-town America to see just days after he seemed to dis them to an elite crowd of donors at an allegedly closed fund-raiser in a San Francisco mansion, waving stiffly on the senator's left lapel was the old red-white-and-blue BEFORE PHOTO Illinois Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama wearing naked lapelsflag pin. Watch and see if it's still there in tonight's debate.

According to a touching-possibly-true-but-then-again-you-never-know-in-big-time-politics report circulating on several blogs during the night, the pin was reportedly given to Obama Tuesday morning by a disabled veteran whose name nobody seems to know right now.

So naturally not wanting to hurt the vet's feelings, how could the 46-year-old Obama do anything other than immediately put the pin back on his public lapel for as long as necessary?

If we were cynical and had over the years seen even the most seemingly idealistic politicians sway with the winds in the face of political pressure just before a crucial election, we'd write something about how convenient that no one caught the vet's name.

But then, probably by lunchtime today someone will find a disabled Pennsylvania veteran who claims he's the one who proudly gave the little pin to the candidate. And Obama can then wear the minute flag until he himself turns 88 without having to explain an embarrassing but awfully convenient political flip-flop in the face of running against a Republican war veteran who spent nearly six years in a POW cell. And who, by the way, won his party's presidential nomination rather handily without any lapel pin.

(UPDATE: Thanks to loyal Ticket reader Ariane for steering us to video of Obama acknowledging the disabled vet. And it didn't even take until lunchtime.)

So we'll leave out all that cynical part.

--Andrew Malcolm

                                                                                                                                 Photo Credit: AP

Comments () | Archives (145)

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wow, the internet, and now the LA Times sure has become a forum for mind numbingly dumb journalism...if one can even really call this journalism. I remember the days of old when you had to buy a copy of the National Enquirer or Star magazine to read garbage....

Yes, please leave out the cynical part. If you watch the video of the speech, you will hear Obama clearly announce the veteran's name who gave him the pin, and then he spoke directly to him and thanked him for the pin and his service. Why don't you do your research?

In Malcolm's case, maybe you can fix cynical but you can't fix stupid.
Remember the well-coiffed and well-heeled Republican women mocking Kerry at the GOP convention with their purple (Heart) Band-Aids? Remember how George Bush didn't want to fulfill his Texas Air Guard commitment so he refused to take his physical and fled to Alabama. Sweet home, Alabama.

Since you were wondering about the story that a vet had given it to him, here's the video of the veterans event where Obama puts on the flag pin; he says aloud the name of the veteran who had just given it to him and the guy is present so..... I reckon the vet just gave him a pin, and what's he gonna do, say no? It is special coming as a gift from a disabled vet- - Obama thanks the vet for his service and tells him that the pin means a lot coming from him.

But I knew what Obama meant by how the flags everywhere became a symbol of uncritical support for the Iraq war. My elderly grandfather who's a vet himself and lives in a conservative small town, had put a flag sticker on his mailbox after 9/11 but he surprised- -OK, shocked - - me by taking it off the day we started the war with Iraq. He just said he did not want people assuming he agreed with it. He did not think we should be using our resources on Iraq instead of Al Quaeda

(Many thanks!)

Wow, what an amazingly trite and useless non-article. I like how the author is so enamoured of his asinine (and demonstrably false) innuendo at the end that he can't even bring himself to remove it after it's proven wrong.


Question (of Democrats)
(Question # 11)

"has the better chance of getting elected president in November"


Obama: 62%
Clinton: 31%

Washington Post ABC News Poll

Wow. Ditto to the first post. When I read this I thought i was reading one of those tabloids you see at the grocery store at the cash register. Ill-researched, not even trying to appear impartial, etc.

Dan Rather is at it again... and from his lame HD show last nite. Small world, eh? Seems Barry needs to hug a little harder onto America these days.



More than any other thing, what rubs you in terms of the lie told about you or a misstatement about something you've done-- one thing more than the other concerns you?


Well-- you know, there were these-- e-mails that were being sent out-- suggesting that I was a Muslim and that I was-- sort of unpatriotic-- which, you know, we have tried to dispel. It was an insult both to me, a Christian, but also an insult to the Muslim community 'cause it tried to play on those fears. But the-- you know, I-- I think that-- what really rubs me the wrong-- the wrong way ends up being this suggestion somehow that-- because-- I haven't worn a flag pin in the past- - that somehow-- I don't love this country as much as those who do. Because I wouldn't be doin' this unless I loved this country. I owe everything I am to this country. And, you know, one of the tasks I think in the general election is gonna be to have a healthy debate about what love of country means. And that's a debate I welcome.

And actually, I couldn't agree with Obama more about the reasons for not wearing the pin. Wearing the pin/the proverbial flag on your sleeve is a substitute for exhibiting your patriotism through your actions. Why wear a pin if you're truly a patriotic American at heart?

Barrack Obama is a great American. He opposed the quagmire in Iraq, and that took heroism and guts to stand up against the right-wing led rush to war. I like that he opposed, from the very start, an ill-advised invasion that was misplaced revenge for the attacks on 9/11. At that time, and still today, the right-wing claims patriotism and national pride for themselves. They call liberals and other people of sanity "un-American". It's time to listen to people of peace and intelligence now, not the right-wing idiots who got us into this mess to begin with. Barrack Obama, a true American, that represents all of us. Andrew Malcolm, not so much.

Did you all ever stop to think that this vet giving Obama a lapel pin was staged?!

Obama choosing to wear the pin now means nothing and actually, it is an insult!!!!

Obama is a phony and a fraud!

(Gee, do you think?)

You reap what you sow. Remember bush? Better take a closer look at Obama. For all his lofty retoric, there are still questions about his experience despite his attempt to overstate them. Still questions considering his silence and possible acceptance of the Rev. Wrights statemens until publicly forced to reject them (but still excusing the Rev.). Still questions considering Obama's wife having pride in America only after Obama's becomes a candiate. Still questions considering Obama's ability to work with a congress that has its own agenda. Still questions that Obama can walk the talk and will represent all Americans not just the Republican Americans, the Blacks and those upper class independents.

Throw out the inspiring retoric and hype of the Obama campaign and look closely at what he has to say or doesn't say and I think there is a much more flawed candidate than many of you don't see. After eight years of bush, voters need to be very carefull with their choice for President. With the problems facing America, we don't need another mistake in the office of President. It's very easy to vote someone in office but much harder to get them out. Remember, you reap what you sow.

"..It was tied in with the fraudulent photo of Obama not placing his hand over his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance..."

The Time magazine photo (,29307,1662530_1446035,00.html) was of Obama during the national anthem, not the Pledge of Allegiance. What about it is fraudulent? Is this LAT blogger claiming Time photoshopped the pic?

If this blogger can't get this part of the story right, how reliable is anything else s/he's written here?

LOL. great post.

What was he supposed to do. Diss the disabled vet? This was not the best choice in line with his comments but the vet was right there. He does name him and he is honoring the fact that the guy gave it to him to encourage him to wear the pin. The pundits have weighed in but it would have been rather cold not to acknowledge the guy.

So let's see. Obama is unpatriotic for not wearing a flag pin and he's not ready for prime time if he does wear one. You’re dammed if you do and dammed if you don't.
Now, tell me how this noise that passes for news helps restore American jobs and the US economy or helps resolve the housing crisis or gets us closer to bringing the Troops home?

It is part of his channeling of Dukakis. Remember with Bush the 1st taunted Michael Dukakis into reciting the Pledge of Allegiance? "he took the bait: was how the newspapers at the time reported in. Now Obama is doing the same thing.

Thank you for your comment, Ariane. I love my country, but was rather flummoxed about displaying the flag after the Iraq war started. So many folks who did were screaming for blood (anybody's blood, it seemed), that I had difficulty putting myself in that group by displaying the flag. It also seemed like an empty "jump on the bandwagon, because it's a popular thing to do" kind of gesture, which seemed to lessen the intended impact of showing genuine support for our country and our troops. It's like an atheist saying the Lord's Prayer just because they went to church with their grandmother one Sunday. Then came the "I support the troops, but not the war" conundrum. Again, we seemed to have a War of the Car Magnets. What does one do? Remove the flag magnet, but keep the "Support Our Troops" magnet? The fact is that whatever view you have, it needs to be thoughtful, fact-driven, intelligent and genuine. Rather than having silly discussions about flag pins, let's drop the fluff and get to the real stuff.

How convenient that this comes now, all that time of refusing to wear the pin and speaking out against wearing it and suddenly at this time he gets an opportunity and wears one. What about all the veterans before, when he wasn't wearing one, he suddenly feels he should honor one now, but he didn't think of them before. This is actually worse than not wearing one. We are not as gullible as he thinks.

Geez, more non news about the 'Bam'. Are the Hill and the McMan wearing their flag pins all the time?

(Try reading the item.)

help me please, i'm just sooo bitter...

The clown ought to give the flag pin to his racist, anti-American mentor. Let me know if you want to know where he should pin it...

I am still hoping he and Michelle move to France, where things are more to their liking.

Too late 'boma, you blew it when you insulted the service of our armed forces past and present when you refused to wear the flag pin in the first place, along with some snide remarks about those who actually are patriotic. Both you and your racist anti-American preacher can keep each other company. Maybe the 97 percent black vote, racially driven can put you over the top, but you won't have the support of the rest of the nation when they finally come to realize the true worth of your potential extreme liberal actions as president. I don't think the liberal press will be able to protect you any more either then. Readership and listeners are disappearing from those liberal sites and only "fair and balanced" FOX is surviving. Liberalizm is dying or merely dead men walking and only struggling with the scraps of remaining hate to live on. Bow out barack, and let Hillary carry the load. You are not able.

You can't put your patriotism in a pin on your lapel, or a bumber sticker on your car, or a flag on your house, or a tattoo on your body. You either love your country in your heart or you don't. Know and believe in the meaning of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and you're a patriot in my book. If you just standby and let government walk all over the American people and the Constitution you're not a Patriot.

Arienne-interesting your grandfather already knew all the nuances of Iraq/Afghan/AlQueda the day after the war started.

Pledge of Allegience/National Anthem....what's the diff...tradition is hand over heart for both..either way he was dis'ing his country.

Larr - USN Retired

the pin has 37 stars = 37 states.

Media have sunk to an all time low. Reporting rumors, gossip and now Obama wearing a flag pin? Give me a break! He's the next president! It's time to wear that pin! I'm buying a flag tomorrow!

So your grandfather should put the flag back up since we're fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq now.

Too late about the cynical part buddy.

I wholeheartedly agree with Obama about the ridiculous flag pin. It's a cheap pin made in china, but God forbid you dare not wear it. It means about as much for patriotism as the "support the troops" bumper stickers mean to the troops that Republicans actually refuse to support when it comes to health care, rotation and pay.

Republicans are all about symbols, but you can't count on them to actually DO anything. And when was the last time you saw Grandpa McCain sporting a lapel pin?

What are you trying to pull LA Times? Revisionist History?

Your comment is an outright lie!
It was tied in with the fraudulent photo of Obama not placing his hand over his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance, thus publicly displaying a lack of patriotism.

I saw the video footage, he didn't place his hand on his heart. Check your sourcing. Jeeeeeeze

O'bama is an afro-centric Marxist that harbors resentment for his white roots. He will ruin this country in a very short period of time should he be elected POTUS. It make sno difference how he tries to disguise what he really is.Flag pin or no flag pin, he is still an America hating white resenting anti capitalist.

As it was so eloquiently said, "this is indeed political silly season" Only in America can you have dork journalism.

He probably found that pin in a box of Cracker Jacks and decided it looked cool, since he obviously has no interest in what the symbol stands for. The whole democrat ticket is just as phony, hollow, callous and aloof. Simply strapping that badge on won't fool or win anybody over, it just gives his own people something to be self righteous about since they don't have anything of value to offer. They will be losing big time.

Ohhh fret! An article critical of the Messiah! What ever will we do?!?!?

Glad to see it on his suit. For any reason. As an elder punk rocker, I understand Obama not wanting to ride band wagons.
Gore stood behind a dozen U.S. flags in 2000; the NAFTA pimp didn't make me think he cared about America one iota.

So he was for wearing a flag pin before he was against it and now he is for it again. Wow, that is more than a flip flop, it is a flip flop filp. He outdid Kerry!

It can be truly said that politics can turn even intelligent folks imbecile. Imagine then what it can do to the likes of Malcolm.

Or read the above, either will do. If I could only melt it down I could use it to fix my roof...

why the hell is Obama held to a diffferent standard than McCain?

Here is a picture of McCain taken April 8th where he is not wearing a lapel flag:

where is the outrage?? This issue is so phony.

As all the Obama faithful rush to attack the article, they are missing the clear point of the article. Back when Obama's crafted image of being principled, and above the fray went unchallenged, he made this "principled" stand against wearing the lapel pin, and all the Obama faithful said amen.

Now, that the veneer has fallen, and he's made several gaffs exposing himself as elitist, Machiavellian, and willing to tolerate racism for personal opportunity goals, he's now exposed as just another politician, willing to do anything, even go against his own words to win votes.

Obama sporting a flag lapel pin?

Does that mean he's joined a bowling league?

Hillary will drink to that!

The flag lapel pin was given to him as a gift at an event from a Disabled Veteran. Imagine the media storm if he refused it and just put in his pocket No matter what he does the right wing msm will find fault. Gimme a break--come up with a real issue

Yah, he is wearing a pin again I see that but he is wearing the wrong one. According to him, his policies, and ideals of which he is really commited too as I have compered to another country and found similarites. The Hammer and Sickle should be his flag. Nothing like a good salute ah commrad!!!
TRAITOR! I'd rather die than vote for this Marxist. I only vote for patriots and people that follow our system of Government.

Wow, so now we're judging someone's dedication and Patriotism based on whether they put on their lapel pin? Egads.. "Mind-numbing journalism" for sure.

If there was any truth in advertising with the politicians they'd be wearing Mexican flag pins.

Now watch, it's going to turn into something wrong--like the "flair" they had in Office Space. "Oh look, McCain has more flair on than HIllarity today".

So much of our popular journalism sucks anymore. Brain-dead electorate.

That was without a doubt one of the most idiotic blog posts I've ever seen. And very disrespectful of the veteran who gave Obama the pin.

I have always defended journalists, but this past week has blown that out of the water for me. The whole "bittergate" controversy is the biggest non-story of the year, being pushed only by the Clinton campaign, right-wing Obama-haters and (surprise surprise) the lazy, sloppy media. The media apparently got bored and were happy to jump on any juicy tidbit, and this was the one for this week (I'm sure they're all bummed that there's no good video).

But what the media has failed to realize is when the media starts telling small town people how they are supposed to react to someone, they show themselves to be far more condescending and clueless than Obama was with his comments. And the polls since this manufactured "flap" haven't changed, and numerous articles have shown that people in small towns couldn't care less about this crapola.

What I'm waiting for is the media expose on how the media is rapidly becoming irrelevant. This article is a perfect example of the inane and pathetic excuse for political analysis that rules the day in editorial circles. What do the candidates think about the price of food? Or fuel? What are the candidates planning on doing about Osama bin Laden, who is still at large? What are we up against in Afghanistan and Pakistan and what can we do about it? How can we get a handle on the falling dollar and the mortgage crisis?

We get none of that -- we get BS stories (poorly researched ones at that!) about the freaking flag pin.

How do you people sleep?

Are you serious? OMG? This is actual election reporting in 2008? LOL!!!

Unclench. It's a pin. Get over it.

Have you nothing of substance to say?

This socialist pig won't even cover his heart at the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE. He's only wearing it because he couldn't disrespect a VET by not wearing it, or it would have shown his true color.

If your cynic comments are correct why is Obama not wearing the pin after that?

TOOOOOO coincidental for me. I'm sure he'll bring it up in the debate tonight as well. How many flag pins do you think he has been given since last year, and he decides NOW to put it on, acknowedging the man, in front of the cameras, right before the PA primary?????

He makes me ill. Mr. Condescending

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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