Show me a man wearing an American flag pin in his lapel, and I'll show you an asshole. I'm sure there are exceptions, but in general people need to remember that lapels aren't for wearing pins to create the illusion that you're supporting the troops. They're for wearing ribbons to create the illusion that you're helping cure a disease.
Last week we had the first genuine controversy of the presidential campaign: the shocking news that Barack Obama doesn't wear an American flag lapel pin, so apparently he and America are no longer going steady. "No lapel pin, Senator? It's like not wearing pants. Why don't you just stab the Statue of Liberty in the eye while bitch-slapping a 9/11 widow?" Another in a series of bullshit non-stories that have zero effect on the troops, the war or anything in the real world -- or, as Fox calls it, "Breaking News."
A reporter in Iowa asked Obama why he doesn't wear the pin and Obama explained that, to him, wearing the pin had come to seem like a "substitute for true patriotism." Bravo, Senator. And then, in yet another shining example of why the media is part of the problem, ABC's Claire Shipman said, "TMI, too much information -- all he had to say was, 'Don't judge me by what I wear, move on.' He played into the idea that he's not ready for prime time."
What, schoolgirl? "Too much information?" What is she, 12? This is typical press hypocrisy -- they say they want somebody who doesn't give pat political answers, but when they get one, they call him a loser. They say they don't like safe robots like Hillary, but they create conditions where only that species can survive. And they give cover to people like Sean Hannity, who reported on "no pin" gate and then had to call a doctor because his fake outrage hard-on lasted longer than 72 hours.
Of course, the Republicans are the party of Mark Foley and the Rev. Ted Haggard and Larry Craig and countless other closeted homosexuals, so their fixation on jewelry is understandable, but still ... the flag is just a symbol. You're getting pissy about a brooch, you drama queens, one that was probably made in China. It's probably leaking poison lead on you right now.
At least that would be some sacrifice, because let's be honest: this generation doesn't do real sacrifice or even pay for our own wars. That's what grandkids are for! No, we do flag pins and bumper stickers. And not even bumper stickers. Bumper magnets. Because stickers are tough to get off, and we may change our mind about never forgetting.
When I see the little flag right here, the first thing I think is, you voted for, and still like, George Bush, the man who has gotten more troops unnecessarily killed and maimed by failing to plan for their mission, by pushing their units to the breaking point, by letting his corporate enablers like Halliburton, Bechtel and Blackwater rape and pillage not just the Iraqis, but our own army.
Can you imagine how apoplectic the flag-pin people would be if these same transgressions against the military were being made by Bill Clinton? Oh, who am I kidding? They'd still be obsessing about the blow job.
Bill Maher is a comedian, commentator, and host of Real Time With Bill Maher on HBO.
© 2007 Salon.com