Wednesday, October 10, 2007

PINS & DICKS. At the Wall Street Journal Eugene Volokh tries to get some more mileage out of Obama's non-wearing of the flag pin, saying it means that Obama doesn't love America any more:
Wearing a flag pin is not supposed to be an explanation or an argument, just as "I love you" is not supposed to be an explanation or an argument. It's supposed to be a traditional statement of affection, powerful because it's cliché...

Yet if you used to say this and then you stopped, the symbolic message is pretty powerful. And that's true even though many people say "I love you" without meaning it (just as there are some who wear the flag pin but are just opportunists, not patriots). Even if this abuse of the phrase weakens its symbolism, an outright renunciation of the phrase retains its symbolism just fine.
The metaphor is rather weak, as one of the commenters observes:
If I were to constantly tell my wife that I love her, and meanwhile were to seek the favors of other women and hang out in taverns rather than with her and my daughter, my wife would not believe my words.
Wearing a flag pin isn't like telling your spouse that you love him or her. Unless you are a U.S. servicemember, or Captain America, or attending a naturalization ceremony, wearing a flag pin means you are a dick.

From the guy who fired Brad from All-American Burger in Fast Times at Ridgemont High to Fox anchors to the creeps who run for office to American Dad!, the flag pin has proved a reliable symbol of dickitude. Seldom have I seen an otherwise normally-dressed guy wearing a flag pin and thought, oh, isn't that sweet, he's telling America that he loves her! No, long experience has taught me that the pin-wearer wants something from me: either my vote, or an unearned advantage for whatever song-and-dance or sales pitch he's about to spool out. Or he wants the other Republicans in the room to spot him, so they can huddle privately and exchange stories about how they dicked someone over. Or he wants to pass for a dick so the other dicks won't gang up on him. Which makes him a dick.

Like most generalizations, this one is not foolproof, but coupled with common sense it is close enough to get you through most days. What Obama was trying to tell us with his gesture was simply that he is not a dick. It's not probative, but it's a step in the right direction. If he should go to work at Captain Hook's and take out a robber, he's got my vote for sure.

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