Media Matters brought my attention to, The Media’s Imaginary Coffee Salute Scandal. It seems that Obama had a cup of coffee in his hand when he saluted Marines while exited Marine One. The right wing are freaking out, even though Bush the Younger did the same thing all the time while holding his dog. It is just another thing for partisans to freak out about. And I don’t especially care.
What I have cared about in the past is the habit of our men in uniform saluting the President of the United States. This goes back basically to the beginning. To me it has always smacked of military dictatorships. But it is what we have always done and it does go along with Marines code (pdf) that states that one should salute “all officers senior to you in rank.” The president certainly is entitled as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces (and not simply Commander-in-Chief). But the Marines mention a number of other civilians who should be saluted, such as governors. Thus this is a sign of subordination of the military to the civilian government — a very good thing indeed. Conservatives want to turn this around.
But the Marines are a practical group and they note conditions under which one should not salute. For example, if you are bent over an engine trying to fix it, you are not expected to salute. But most important in this situation, you don’t need to salute when, “Carrying articles with both hands or being otherwise so occupied as to make saluting impractical.” That would pretty much relieve a president from ever having to salute.
Of course, the president never did salute. You know Colonel Jackson, General Grant, Colonel Roosevelt, General Eisenhower? None of them ever saluted. The tradition started in 1981 when the star of Bedtime for Bonzo did it because he thought it was super keen. He had been in World War II, but only stateside working in public relations. But you know how it is: once they stuck “under God” into the “Pledge of Allegiance,” people assumed it had always been there. Allen West, who really should know better even though he is a total authoritarian nut job, called the “latte salute” disgraceful. But you gotta wonder where West and all the Fox News ranters were when this happened:
Of course they were no where. No one cared. And no one cares about the “latte salute.” Brian Adam Jones sums up the issue well:
When Maj Gen Harold Greene was killed in Afghanistan earlier this summer, critics blasted the president for not attending his funeral. Retired Air Force Col Morris Davis claimed that Obama “bucked tradition” since Richard Nixon attended the funeral of Maj Gen John Dillard when he was killed in Vietnam in 1970 and George W Bush attended Lt Gen Timothy Maude’s funeral when he was killed on Sept 11, 2001. But for one problem — Nixon didn’t attend Dillard’s funeral, nor did Bush attend Maude’s. Davis later said that he was kidding and baiting Obama critics.
Similarly, a story that has plagued the Obama administration is that he failed to visit the D-Day memorial in Normandy on June 6 every year. The story claimed that there were only four occasions in 69 years that a president failed to visit the D-Day memorial on D-Day, and all four were in the Obama administration. In reality, however, no U.S. president visited the memorial at all until Reagan did it in 1984 (he was a real trend-setter). And it had only been visited by an American president six times in total, including a visit from Obama in 2009.
The man can’t win. No Democratic president can win. This is because the right wing in this country has nothing to talk about in terms of policy. The world view of the right is that the nation is divided into the patriots and the traitors. And the Democrats are by definition traitors. It doesn’t matter if any given Democrat is a president or not. Thinking this way doesn’t make those on the right traitors, but it definitely destroys any claim to being patriots.