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Obama’s under the gun for not wearing a flag lapel pin.  There’s satiric comment about that and other non-issues in a video featuring Lewis Black on The Daily Show.

The Obama/lapel pin ado has reminded several commentators of Bill Moyers’ remarks on flag lapel pins on his NOW program in February 2003, and I’ll get to that later.  But first let me say that the whole lapel pin brouhaha takes me further back–to a John Prine song of Viet Nam vintage.  Here’s the chorus:

But your flag decal won’t get you
Into Heaven any more.
They’re already overcrowded
From your dirty little war.
Now Jesus don’t like killin’
No matter what the reason’s for,
And your flag decal won’t get you
Into Heaven any more.

If you’ve been Prine-deprived in your lifetime, you’re hereby ordered to watch the video because, besides offering up some hilarious lyrics, John updates his song with a wry but well deserved dig at Bush and our current war.

And now back to Moyers. 

I put the flag in my lapel tonight. First time. Until now I haven’t thought it necessary to display a little metallic icon of patriotism for everyone to see. It was enough to vote, pay my taxes, perform my civic duties, speak my mind, and do my best to raise our kids to be good Americans. Sometimes I would offer a small prayer of gratitude that I had been born in a country whose institutions sustained me, whose armed forces protected me, and whose ideals inspired me; I offered my heart’s affections in return. It no more occurred to me to flaunt the flag on my chest than it did to pin my mother’s picture on my lapel to prove her son’s love. Mother knew where I stood; so does my country. I even tuck a valentine in my tax returns on April 15.


So I put this on as a modest riposte to men with flags in their lapels who shoot missiles from the safety of Washington think tanks, or argue that sacrifice is good as long as they don’t have to make it, or approve of bribing governments to join the coalition of the willing (after they first stash the cash).

Lou Dobbs and lots of others read Moyers the riot act over that little three minute speech.  Lou, you couldn’t have been more wrong.  Right on, Bill!