Few seemed to share Longville's qualms. Indeed, the bipartisan outcry is a measure of how politicians in the post-Sept. 11 climate are hypersensitive about expressing patriotism and condemning anything that might appear to threaten traditional American values.
For Democrats, the episode also stirs painful memories of the 1988 presidential campaign, when the flag became the most potent symbol of former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis' loss to former President George Bush.
During his first term as governor, Dukakis vetoed a bill that would have required teachers to lead their classes in the pledge each day. Bush hammered his opponent on the issue at virtually every campaign stop, most memorably at a flag-making factory in New Jersey.
After that, Democrats were determined never to be out-flagged, as it were.
Red, white and blue became standard at virtually every party affair--from the smallest state gathering to the nationally broadcast nominating conventions--and the pledge became as much a fixture as invocations of John F. Kennedy and Franklin Roosevelt, and the singing of the old party theme song "Happy Days Are Here Again."