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.