By Scott Tibbs, July 1, 2008
The New York Times reports that a number of Barack Obama's supporters, especially young people, are symbolically adopting Obama's middle name as a form of protest against conservatives who have developed a habit of using it as a jab against the Democrats' nominee for President. I have used Obama's middle name as a jab to get under the skin of Leftists before deciding to drop the tactic as part of an attempt to be more civil.
In the end, I think that's all it is - a jab that can be very annoying to some Leftists but has no real impact. Realistically, calling him "Barack Hussein Obama" or "B. Hussein Obama" or some other derivative isn't going to change any minds against Obama, but it is also not likely to produce a backlash against the people using it. The people adopting Obama's middle name as their own are playing right into the hands of Obama's critics - focusing on a trivial issue rather than advocating what they believe to be the strengths of their candidate.
A larger, much more relevant issue that has Obama supporters concerned is questions about his patriotism. Obama made some people angry last year when he declined to wear a flag pin as many other candidates were doing. I found Obama's reasoning to be logical: Wearing a flag pin on your lapel does not make you a patriot. It is symbolism, nothing more. I thought his stance was principled and substantive, something that was indicative of what he promised he would be about: changing the way politics is conducted.
This is why I am disappointed to see that Obama has abandoned his principled stance. The Associated Press reports that "Obama recently started wearing a flag pin on his lapel in one attempt to answer" questions about his patriotism. Instead of bringing the change he promised, Obama has embraced symbolism over substance. Obama's decision to wear a flag pin is just more of the same.