Stop the presses: Barack Obama no longer wears an American flag pin on his suit lapel:
An eagle-eyed reporter for the ABC affiliate in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, noticed something missing from Democratic presidential contender Sen. Barack Obama's, D-Ill., lapels.
"You don't have the American flag pin on. Is that a fashion statement?" the reporter asked, at the end of a brief interview with Obama on Wednesday. "Those have been on politicians since Sept. 12, 2001."
Check it out: Obama thinks real patriotism is more important than symbolic patriotism:
The standard political reply to that question might well have been, "My patriotism speaks for itself."
But Obama didn't say that.
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.
"Instead," he said, "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."
In Iowa, some Obama supporters applauded the candidate's fashion statement. Said Carrie Haurum of Waterloo: "He doesn't need to wear that flag on his lapel. He wears it in his heart."
"I'm less concerned with what you're wearing on your lapel than what's in your heart," Obama said Thursday while campaigning in Independence, Iowa.
"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," Obama said.
"Good for him," says Steve Benen:
For far too many, wearing a pin is itself a patriotic exercise, which in and of itself, is rather hollow. Someone can oppose American civil liberties, prefer to stifle dissent, support un-American policies like torture and the elimination of habeas corpus, but so long as the stars and stripes are on his or her lapel, their patriotism should be consider unimpeachable. What nonsense.
It’d be easy for Obama to simply wear the pin and avoid the question, but instead he articulated a more important point about ideas carrying more weight than symbols. ...
Ideas like the immorality and ineffectiveness of torture:
“The secret authorization of brutal interrogations is an outrageous betrayal of our core values, and a grave danger to our security. We must do whatever it takes to track down and capture or kill terrorists, but torture is not a part of the answer — it is a fundamental part of the problem with this administration’s approach.
“Torture is how you create enemies, not how you defeat them. Torture is how you get bad information, not good intelligence. Torture is how you set back America’s standing in the world, not how you strengthen it. It’s time to tell the world that America rejects torture without exception or equivocation. It’s time to stop telling the American people one thing in public while doing something else in the shadows. No more secret authorization of methods like simulated drowning.
“When I am president America will once again be the country that stands up to these deplorable tactics. When I am president we won’t work in secret to avoid honoring our laws and Constitution, we will be straight with the American people and true to our values.”
Sounds like a leader to me. Not just any old leader, either. An American leader.