Less than one month out from St. Patrick’s Day, President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign seems to be hoping to cash in on supporters’ Irish pride with some special campaign merchandise: “O’Bama” T-shirts and pint glasses.”Gear up for Saint Patrick’s Day in style with this fun O’Bama tee,” the Obama online campaign store says.
But the merchandise — $30 for the T-shirt and $25 for the two-glass set — isn’t sitting well with everyone: The O’Bama design includes a large four-leaf clover, which is different from the three-leaf shamrock, the actual symbol of Ireland.
Dave Hunt, a lifelong Democrat and the owner of the Irish saloon Coogan’s in Manhattan, told the New York Times he finds the design “kind of off”:
“That is my particular pebble in my shoe, when four-leaf clovers are interchanged with three-leafs,” said Mr. Hunt, 62, whose restaurant wall features a poster of John F. Kennedy adorned with (three-leaf) shamrocks. “People do it all the time. But if they were going to go to the trouble to do a T-shirt with the O and the apostrophe — which I think is very clever – someone on the staff should have gone to the trouble of finding out how many leaves to put on the clover.”
During Obama’s visit to Ireland last year, he joked to a Dublin crowd: “My name is Barack Obama, of the Moneygall Obamas, and I’ve come home to find the apostrophe we lost somewhere along the way.”
Hunt isn’t the only one to take issue with the added clover leaf: A comment left on a Politico report about the new merchandise pointed out the same problem.
“How ignorant of the Irish history is [Obama] when a four leaf clover is placed as the logo when the three leaf shamrock represents the faith of St Patrick’s teachings? Tells you volumes about the man,” commenter Julia Connolly wrote.
But Kevin O’Neill, a professor of Irish History at Boston College and the cofounder of the school’s Irish Studies program, told the Times he doesn’t see a real problem.
“I think that’s creative licence,” O’Neill said. ” If you can add an apostrophe, why not a leaf.”
Hunt told the Times he fired off an email to the Obama re-election campaign about the error. He received an auto-reply in return. Asked about the logo by the Times, a campaign spokeswoman said she would check it out.
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