Senator Obama’s sudden turnaround on the flag pin seems like an astonishing (and frankly very surprising) bit of cynicism. But if he is actually cynical enough to do it for West Virginia votes, having criticized those who wear the pin when more urbane cosmopolitan votes were up for grabs, how could he not be clever enough to understand how this will be perceived? Obama is the only person who has really made an issue of the pin in this campaign, and having said it was a ploy to use substitute patriotism to stir up simpletons, how could he fail to understand that wearing it now is akin to calling West Virginia voters simpletons? Very strange.
Now I think this elides a perfectly reasonable distinction between, on the one hand, occasionally wearing a pin, and on the other, regarding it as an obligatory part of your Politician’s Uniform, because everyone else is doing it and you look downright freakish if you don’t. That said, it’s not a wholly unfair point. But the answer seems easy enough as well. The group that’s supposed to be offended here are those so dull-witted that they (1) get bent out of shape over a lapel pin, and (2) couldn’t wrap their brains around Obama’s explanation for foregoing the pin. Which is to say… simpletons. The overlap between that group and those “clever enough” to regard the pin’s appearance as cynical pandering is probably pretty thin.