So here's the question: Are they really saying this because they believe the empty rituals of patriotism (flag lapel pins, hand over heart, etc.) are more important than actual patriotism, or is this just a cynical Swift-Boat ploy without real feeling behind it?
I would say that among the conservative rank-and-file as well as most of the leadership, it is quite definitely the former. The latter would only be true among a minority of conservative intellectuals. For conservatives, appearances are everything.