The new Obama

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Andrew Malcolm reports at the Los Angeles Times Top of the Ticket blog that an American flag pin is back on the coat lapel of Barack Obama. Malcolm turns a gimlet eye on this heartwarming development:

[T]here he was Tuesday on national television at a Keystone State townhall meeting trying with some success, according to recent polls, to play catch-up to Sen. Hillary Clinton in the next key Democratic primary state of Pennsylvania, which votes April 22.

And there, like a screaming eagle proclaiming Obama’s patriotism for all the bitter, disgruntled voters of smalltown America to see just days after he seemed to dis them to an elite crowd of donors at an allegedly closed fundraiser in a San Francisco mansion, waving stiffly on the senator’s left lapel was the old red, white and blue flag pin. Watch and see if it’s still there in tonight’s debate.

According to a touching-possibly-true-but-then-again-you-never-know-in-big-time-politics report circulating on several blogs during the night, the pin was reportedly given to Obama Tuesday morning by a disabled veteran whose name nobody seems to know right now.

So naturally not wanting to hurt the vet’s feelings, how could the 46-year-old Obama do anything other than immediately put the pin back on his public lapel for as long as necessary?

If we were cynical and had over the years seen even the most seemingly idealistic politicians sway with the winds in the face of political pressures just before a crucial election, we’d write something about how convenient that no one caught the vet’s name.

But then, probably by lunchtime today someone will find a disabled Pennsylvania veteran who claims he’s the one who proudly gave the little pin to the candidate. And Obama can then wear the minute flag until he himself turns 88 without having to explain an embarrassing but awfully convenient political flip-flop in the face of running against a Republican war veteran who spent nearly six years in a POW cell. And who, by the way, won his party’s presidential nomination rather handily without any lapel pin.

So we’ll leave out all that cynical part.

Students of rhetoric will appreciate Malcolm’s use of praeteritio at the conclusion of his post.

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