Rove falsely claimed that Obama suggested: "If you wear a flag lapel pin, you're not a true patriot"

››› ››› ANDREW IRONSIDE

On The O'Reilly Factor, Karl Rove misrepresented Sen. Barack Obama's explanation for not wearing an American flag lapel pin, falsely asserting that Obama's comments amounted to saying, "If you wear a flag lapel pin, you're not a true patriot." In fact, Obama said he stopped wearing a pin because it had become "a substitute for, I think, true patriotism"; he did not say, as Rove claimed, that the wearer was "not a true patriot."

During the April 17 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, responding to Bill O'Reilly's question about the importance of "asking Barack Obama about the lapel pin," as ABC News anchor Charles Gibson did during the April 16 Democratic presidential debate, Fox News contributor Karl Rove misrepresented Obama's explanation for not wearing an American flag lapel pin. Rove stated, "Let's remember what Barack Obama said; he said that, in the aftermath of 9-11, he stopped wearing a flag lapel pin because true patriotism consists of speaking out on an issue, not wearing a lapel pin." He continued, "What he was really doing was demonstrating this turn of mind that says, you know what? If you wear a flag lapel pin, you're not a true patriot." Rove was presumably referring to comments Obama made last October about wearing the flag lapel pin. In October 2007, Obama said that he had decided to stop wearing a U.S. flag lapel pin during the run-up to the Iraq war because it had become "a substitute for, I think, true patriotism," and that "after a while, you start noticing people wearing a lapel pin, but not acting very patriotic." Contrary to Rove's claim, Obama did not say that a flag pin signified that the wearer was "not a true patriot."

O'Reilly responded to Rove's comments by stating, "I didn't take Obama's lack of the lapel pin as anything other than he's either too lazy ... to put it on, or he doesn't want to put it on." Rove replied, "Well, look, I agree with you. It's -- that's not the issue. The issue that I think is embedded in there is that he questioned the patriotism of people who did." O'Reilly said, "I don't know if he did that." Rove replied, "Well, go back to the original quote." In fact, during an October 3 interview with KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Obama was asked why he was not wearing an American flag pin on his lapel -- a pin many politicians began wearing shortly after September 11, 2001. Obama said in response that "right after 9/11 I had a pin," adding: "Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we're talking about the Iraq war, that became a substitute for, I think, true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security." The New York Times reported that Obama told an Independence, Iowa, crowd on October 4: "Somebody noticed I wasn't wearing a flag lapel pin and I told folks, well you know what? I haven't probably worn that pin in a very long time. I wore it right after 9/11... But after a while, you start noticing people wearing a lapel pin, but not acting very patriotic. Not voting to provide veterans with resources that they need. Not voting to make sure that disability payments were coming out on time."

During the April 16 debate, Gibson introduced a question to Obama by asserting, "I want to do one more question, which goes to the basic issue of electability. And it is a question raised by a voter in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, a woman by the name of Nash McCabe." McCabe asked, via videotape, "Senator Obama, I have a question, and I want to know if you believe in the American flag. I am not questioning your patriotism, but all our servicemen, policemen and EMS wear the flag. I want to know why you don't." Before Obama answered, Gibson explained, "Just to add to that, I noticed you put one on yesterday. But -- you've talked about this before, but it comes up again and again when we talk to voters. And as you may know, it is all over the Internet." Obama responded, in part, by saying:

And let me just make one last point on this issue of the flag pin. As you noted, I wore one yesterday when a veteran handed it to me, who himself was disabled and works on behalf of disabled veterans. I have never said that I don't wear flag pins or refuse to wear flag pins. This is the kind of manufactured issue that our politics has become obsessed with and, once again, distracts us from what should be my job when I'm commander in chief, which is going to be figuring out how we get our troops out of Iraq and how we actually make our economy better for the American people.

From the April 17 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: You know, I think there is a point that asking Barack Obama about the lapel pin, why he doesn't wear the flag and this and that, can appear to be, to some people, particularly overseas, picayune, unimportant. What say you?

ROVE: Well, I think it speaks to the values of the candidate. And it was a badly asked question last night. Let's remember what Barack Obama said; he said that, in the aftermath of 9-11, he stopped wearing a flag lapel pin because true patriotism consists of speaking out on an issue, not wearing a lapel pin.

What he was really doing was demonstrating this turn of mind that says, you know what? If you wear a flag lapel pin, you're not a true patriot. And he's questioned the patriotism of people who made a decision that they would honor their country by putting a flag lapel pin on. He said true patriotism was doing what he did, speaking out on the issue.

Frankly, you can be a true patriot and do both things, but I think it shows an unusual cast of mind that says true patriotism consists of doing what I did, not what other people do.

O'REILLY: All right, see, I don't wear a lapel pin. I didn't take Obama's lack of the lapel pin as anything other than he's either too lazy --

ROVE: Right.

O'REILLY: -- to put it on, or he doesn't want to put it on. It ruffles his suit or whatever. I just didn't take it any deeper than that. I could be wrong.

ROVE: Yeah.

O'REILLY: I could be wrong about everything.

ROVE: Well, look, I agree with you. It's -- that's not the issue. The issue that I think is embedded in there is that he questioned the patriotism of people who did. He said true patriotism --

O'REILLY: I don't know if he did that.

ROVE: Well, go back to the original quote.

Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Karl Rove
Show/Publication
The O'Reilly Factor
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.