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Don't Demean This Flag!

Andy Rooney On Why He Thinks People Shouldn't Wear The Flag

The following is a weekly 60 Minutes commentary by CBS News correspondent Andy Rooney.

There's a silent little war going on in this country. It's between people who wear the American flag in their buttonhole and people who do not.

Every night on the evening news, you see people - politicians mostly - being interviewed or giving speeches wearing a little metal American flag. Are they suggesting they love America more than I do?

If a politician running for office has an opponent who wears a flag, he usually thinks he has to wear one too. He's afraid people might say he isn't as patriotic as his opponent is.

President Bush always wears an American flag. Would we think he was un-American if he didn't? His father wore one sometimes, didn't wear one other times.

I think politicians wearing the American flag are a fairly new phenomenon. Politicians weren't wearing them as much just a few years ago not as much as they are now.

President Bush didn't wear one when he was governor of Texas. I don't remember seeing Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy or Dwight Eisenhower wearing one. We did come across a picture of Nixon in the 70's wearing a flag. Maybe he started it.

I've always wondered if a politician, who wears a flag when the cameras are rolling, wears one on Saturdays when he's home alone in his old clothes. Or is he only patriotic in public.

Women politicians don't seem to use the flag as decoration like men do - maybe that's because they have no good place to hang a flag. Or they don't want to put a hole in their dress with the pin.

I suppose it isn't a very popular opinion I have but I don't like to see a politician - or anyone else for that matter - wearing an American flag. Using the flag as decoration is demeaning to it as a symbol.

The American flag may be the best symbol ever designed. It's perfect. It represents our current 50 States and the 13 original colonies. It's both attractive and meaningful and it stands for who we are. That's a lot to ask of a piece of cloth and the American flag does it magnificently.

It should not be used as a bumper sticker.
By Andy Rooney