• author
    • Kelvin Wade

      Columnist
    • September 24, 2014 in Columnists

    Here’s a one-finger salute for those offended by the President’s latte salute

    Did you hear the shocking news? President Obama stepped off Marine One en route to the United Nations and saluted two Marines while holding a cup in his hand. Some say it was a latte but those in the know say that Obama drinks tea. Still, the usual suspects are setting their hair on fire and hyperventilating that President Obama is disrespecting the military. The Drudge Report has given the “scandal” big coverage so Obama haters can do what they do best – get worked into a lather over evil O’Bummer. Give me a break.

    Just so you know, the protocol is for Marines to salute the president. If the president returns the salute, the Marine is to bring his or her arm sharply to their side and remain at attention. If the president doesn’t salute, the Marine holds the salute until the president passes and then cuts their arm to their side and stands at attention. The president may or may not salute at their discretion. The president is not required to salute or acknowledge the soldier at all. Let me repeat, there is NO protocol requiring the president to salute anyone. Of course, if President Obama walked by the Marines without any kind of gesture, the right would explode in faux indignation. But, let me repeat one more time, the president doesn’t have to acknowledge the salute at all.

    In fact, for most of our history, presidents have NOT saluted. Tongues wagged and pearls were clutched in 2010 when President Obama awarded Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta the Medal of Honor and didn’t salute.

    Obama hugged him instead. But President Eisenhower, a retired five star general, didn’t salute when he awarded the Medal of Honor either. Most presidents have not.

    Saluting is a military privilege. Though presidents are commanders in chief of the nation’s armed forces, he or she is not a member of the military. It was believed to be Ronald Reagan that started a tradition of saluting the military.

    The loudest voices are from the usual suspects – Fox and Breitbart “news.” Add in the right wing radio hosts who will find it the most offensive thing they’ve ever seen (and probably a sure sign of the apocalypse). Opportunistic right wing politicians and certifiable Obama haters are going to have a hell of a time trying to unbunch their panties over this one.

    Was I offended by the salute? No more so than when President George W. Bush gave a halfhearted salute while holding his dog. Would the optics have been better if Obama had switched the cup to his other hand and saluted? Sure.

    But the agenda here is to further an idea that has currency among Obama haters that the President is hostile to or somehow hates his own military. President Obama has shaken Marines’ hands in the past. There’s no military protocol for that, but once again, the President is a civilian. We have civilian control of the military built into our Constitution. Presidents can interact with the military at their discretion. To think that a president, of any party, who has often had to order American forces into harm’s way and console the families of the fallen, somehow disrespects our military is asinine.

    It’s hard for me to get worked up over this because of so many other serious things going on in our world. Bombing in Iraq and Syria. ISIS. Khorasan. Beheadings in the Middle East with another one coming any day now. The CDC says Ebola may infect 1.4 million people by January. Enterovirus 68 is sweeping the country. The Republican controlled House Committee on Science, Space and Technology told leading scientists last week that they don’t “believe” the science of climate change. No comprehensive immigration moves from this Congress or President before the election. The U.S. Supreme Court is about to take on cases from marriage equality to racial gerrymandering to abortion and birth control to religious liberty in prisons.

    I mean, if you want to get upset over the treatment of the military, then get upset of the condition of VA hospitals. Get upset that it’s the U.S. military that always shoulders the load when it comes to military action with our allies. Get upset that 22 veterans commit suicide every day. Open your wallet instead of your mouth and donate to Fisher House or the www.fallenheroesfund.org.

    I’m willing to bet the Republic will be able to weather latte-gate.



    • I salute you Kelvin for always telling the truth. I thought nothing of it and of course think other issues outweigh the salute. What a waste of breath for these right wingers but they waste their breath everyday to me.


      • Kendall Wright

      • September 24, 2014 at 5:31 pm
      • Reply

      I have two things to say about this, and I hope you’ll understand both. First, I agree with you completely about the opposition’s attempt to use this incident for political ends. I’m sick unto death of that. However, I’m also sick unto death of the counter-argument that “they did it, too.” An egregious act is an egregious act, not subject to which-side-did-what score-keeping.

      I say that because, as a 21-year military veteran, I know that the incident is not trivial to me and all my brothers and sisters who serve or have served this country. The little ceremony is an exchange of mutual respect. You’re also correct in noting that the president has no statutory requirement to participate at all, and didn’t do so before Reagan. My point is that if you are going to participate in our little ceremony, then damn well participate. It doesn’t matter if you’re a CINC with no idea of what it means to be an American soldier or a president who should most certainly know better, as he once wore the uniform. Both presidents treated the act with disrespect, and the irony of disrespecting an act of respect should not be lost on anyone. Your dad would have agreed with me.


      • Kelvin

      • September 25, 2014 at 12:40 am
      • Reply

      You didn’t know my father, don’t know how he was and you certainly can’t speak for my dead father. People can be offended by the salute if they want. Be aggrieved. Write letters to the editor. Call the White House to complain. Add it to the list of, “Things I Hate About Obama.” Shake your fist. I mean because obviously the President has nothing more on his mind than making sure he gets the salute right.


      • Kelvin

      • September 25, 2014 at 1:24 pm
      • Reply

      Kendall, I apologize for being so abrupt in my post last night. I’ve thanked you for your service and always will. The sacrifices that you and your compatriots have made speaks for itself. The country is indebted to those who have shouldered the burden of our national defense.

      I spent last evening trying to clean up my garage and I came across a lot of old columns. The one I took to bed with me to read last night was my October 23, 2003 column on my dad’s death that occurred on October 20th.. After reading the column I went online on my iPad and read what you’ve written. I was angry that anyone would try to speak for my dad, especially when you didn’t know him. Anyone who knew him would know exactly where he’d stand on this. But to me it’s irrelevant because this is my column.

      When I point out what President Bush did it isn’t so I can say “he did it too!” I’m pointing out the hypocrisy of the response. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this. There was outrage that Pres. Obama appeared in the Oval Office without a jacket on. The critics said, “Ronald Reagan never took his coat off in the Oval Office!” Then when a photo turned up of Reagan in a shirt in the Oval….crickets. There was outrage when a photo showed Pres. Obama with his feet on his desk. Then photos appeared of several former presidents with their feet on the desk. There’s so much faux outrage against this president. He gets a ton of grief from people over the same thing his predecessors did but there was no outrage then. There’s plenty of this to go around. If Bush had the NSA snooping scandal on his watch Democrats and liberals would’ve lit into him. (Although the public at large and Republican politicians haven’t really went after Obama on that issue. I think that shows just how much we’re willing to compromise for a sense of security. Yikes!)

      I don’t put you, Kendall,in the faux outraged camp. You’re not a knee jerk type. I consider you a friend (and you have good taste in dogs.) I don’t doubt there are angry service members over the salute. We just disagree.


        • Kendall Wright

        • September 25, 2014 at 2:17 pm
        • Reply

        Thank you, my friend. It was my hope that my reference to your dad is what set you off, and I do apologize for that. But Kelvin, though I never met him, he’s my brother, and I’m confident that I have a good feel for what a retired CPO would think of this. It was simply an ill-advised attempt to reach out to you.
        I said at the start of my comments that I am in complete agreement about the political theater part. The rest was an attempt to share a culture that, sadly, most Americans are unfamiliar with. I was saddened by public “it’s meaningless” comments, and wanted to try to illustrate that it is, in fact, of great meaning to some of us. I objected to the act, not to the man, actually neither of the men. Perhaps the recent practice of civilians returning military salutes should be abandoned.
        Again, thank you for a very stand-up message.


      • Glenn

      • October 30, 2014 at 8:05 am
      • Reply

      I agree that this entire thing is simply making a mountain out a molehill especially when you consider the origins of the salute used by the United States military.

      Its origins date back to medieval times, two knights would approach each other on horseback. They would raise their visors and show their faces. It’s like they’re saying “This is who I am. I’m not the enemy.” A salute is about respect, respect for the service, respect for the flag, but most importantly respect for yourself.

      President Obama’s salute back to this marine didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know about him.



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