Obama’s decision stirs media, shows political evolution

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Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., is speaking his mind, and, in the process, having a controversial week in the media. Obama gave a stirring “leave Iraq” speech four years ago, and has spent this week trying to remind people just how long he’s been against the war. However, this isn’t what the media has been writing about.

What has he done that the media considers such a big deal this week? He’s taken off his lapel pin of the U.S. flag. The senator commented, “I probably haven’t worn a flag pin in a very long time. After a while I noticed people wearing a lapel pin and not acting very patriotic.” He went on to say that patriotism is more about what’s in your heart and less about appearance.

In a political year, this would seem like an amazing chance to stir up a debate on flag appreciation or patriotism. If nothing else, it could be something to argue about and differentiate the candidates. The responses so far are not aggressive. Has the “who is more patriotic debate” finally run its course?

The U.S. flag, and how we honor it, has really been a hot-button issue since the birth of the flag. Issues like flag burning, the proper way to retire the flag and what should be in the Pledge of Allegiance have haunted our political rhetoric for years.

Moreover, how we honor the flag is how politicians have branded one another – patriotic or not. This is what makes Obama’s choice interesting and maybe a little stupid.

An article in the Washington Times on Oct. 6 reported former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, R-Md., said ridicule of Obama is justified.

An Oct. 5 article in the Daily News of New York reported that Rudolph Giuliani (R.) issued a statement of no comment. Former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., said he rarely wears lapel pins in general, but is proud of the flag when he does.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., agreed with Obama, saying, while she wears a pin, there are numerous ways a person can support the flag. After a comment like this, if the former lieutenant governor of Maryland is the only one who supports the scrutiny, it becomes obvious the only place this war is being fought is in the media.

It certainly isn’t the media’s fault – many expected there to be a political backlash. It was expected that extremely liberal Obama would be chastised for his decision, at the least, and that one of the other candidates would take this opportunity to move to the right of Obama on this issue.

It is wonderful to see the evolution in political dialogue. As the New York Times reported on Oct. 8, after Obama’s remarks about the Iraq war, Republican candidates have disagreed about the war, and Democratic candidates have altered the details to fit their Iraq strategies.

Coming from a long line of military service families, I have great pride in the flag as a symbol of freedom, but an even greater sense of pride when our representatives wave goodbye to nonsense issues and debate important ones. No matter what a person’s political affiliation or personal beliefs might be, those are what spur patriotism.

Kevin Phillips is a senior in legal communications. Please send comments to opinion@spub.ksu.edu.

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