Martin Bashir, it seems, is not a fan of Sarah Palin. And during his MSNBC show and “Clear the Air” segment, he went looking for a way to roast the possible 2012 candidate who is now on a national bus tour. So what tool did he use to blast the woman even many of her detractors see as patriotic? The American flag.
According to Bashir, Palin could be breaking the law by displaying the American flag on her tour bus:
Here’s what he had to say:
In fact, the whole thing could be in breach of a federal law because the United States Flag Code establishes important rules for the use and display of the stars and stripes, the flag of the United States. Under standards of respect and etiquette, it’s made clear that the flag of the United States should never be used for any advertising purpose whatsoever. Yet that’s precisely what Sarah Palin is doing. She’s using the flag of the United States for her own financial purposes. She drapes herself in the stars and stripes and makes millions of dollars in the process. This has got nothing to do with the presidency and everything to do with filling her pockets. And by raising her profile, she raises her income. It is as simple as that. So she was right when she said that hers is not a campaign bus. It’s a cash bus and she’ll keep it rolling for as long as she can.
The only problem: the Supreme Court ruled in 1989 that flag burning is protected by the First Amendment. If flag burning is protected speech, certainly displaying the flag on a tour bus is legal. Or do the rules not apply to Sarah Palin? In Bashir’s warped sense of reality, conservatives like Palin would be arrested for flying the American flag at rallies in which they promote causes that Bashir does not support.
The Congressional Research Service, a non-partisan organization that provides legal analysis to members of Congress, clarified that observance of the Flag Code is “purely voluntary” in a 2008 congressional report: “While wearing the colors may be in poor taste and offensive to many, it is important to remember that the Flag Code is intended as a guide to be followed on a purely voluntary basis to insure proper respect for the flag.”
Considering Palin’s profile has been raised so much in the last week, she can expect attacks like this from the left. But attacks like this are a weak attempt at a nuanced smear campaign.