Posted by Wordsmith on 23 September, 2014 at 9:07 pm. 41 comments already!

Like the tan suit….like the feet up on the Resolute Desk

The following is the latest “faux pas” outrage in the conservative blogosphere:


It isn’t the first time that conservatives have been offended by President Obama’s salute…or lack thereof:

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This image of President Obama talking on a cell phone and simultaneously saluting the military honor guard attendant at the landing of his aircraft while disembarking from Marine One (the call sign of any U.S. Marine Corps aircraft carrying the President, but generally used to refer to a helicopter operated by the HMX-1 squadron) received wide circulation in October 2012. It is a genuine photograph which was taken on 29 January 2010 upon President Obama’s arrival in Baltimore.

This photograph was commonly circulated in tandem with a picture of President George W. Bush disembarking from an aircraft and saluting while holding his Scottish Terrier, Barney, in one arm:


This is completely honorable: President Obama returns outside Marine One to shake hands with the Marine. No salute given.

If we make it out to be more than it is, we will invite egg on our faces. And deservedly so.

Already, it begins:

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But this attempt on the part of liberals to find equivalency isn’t why we conservatives invite egg on our faces. It’s for the very simple fact that, prior to Ronald Reagan, it is not customary for the civilian commander-in-chief to be required to offer a military salute.

Longstanding tradition requires members of the military to salute the president. The practice of presidents returning that salute is more recent — Ronald Reagan started it in 1981.

Reagan’s decision raised eyebrows at the time. Dwight Eisenhower, a former five-star general, did not return military salutes while president. Nor had other presidents.

John Kline, then Reagan’s military aide and now a Minnesota congressman, advised him that it went against military protocol for presidents to return salutes.

Kline said in a 2004 op-ed piece in The Hill that Reagan ultimately took up the issue with Gen. Robert Barrow, then commandant of the Marine Corps.

Barrow told Reagan that as commander in chief of the armed forces, he was entitled to offer a salute — or any sign of respect he wished — to anyone he wished, Kline wrote, adding he was glad for the change.

Every president since Reagan has followed that practice, even those with no military experience. President Bill Clinton’s saluting skills were roundly criticized after he took office, but the consensus was he eventually got better.

The debate over saluting has persisted, with some arguing against it for protocol reasons, others saying it represents an increasing militarization of the civilian presidency.

“The gesture is of course quite wrong: Such a salute has always required the wearing of a uniform,” author and historian John Lukacs wrote in The New York Times in 2003.

Is it Proper for a President to Render a Military Hand Salute? by Bob Price

Something else to consider….

Carey Winfrey in 2009, NYTimes, offering A Final Verdict on the Presidential Salute:

FOR nearly three decades, I’ve felt conflicted about presidential salutes. After all, my United States Marine Corps instructors drilled into me the idea that “you never salute without a cover” which, in civilian, meant without a hat.

My fellow Marines and I were also informed, in no uncertain terms, that we weren’t to salute out of uniform. (I don’t think that presidential blue suits, white shirts and red ties quite qualify.) So whenever I saw a president stepping off a helicopter and bringing hand to brow, my drill instructor’s unambiguous words came back to me with much of their original force.

Then there were the salutes themselves, which ranged from halfhearted to jaunty. None of them fulfilled the characteristically succinct prescription that Capt. Jack O’Donnell of the Marine Corps delivered, in 1963, to my platoon of freshly minted second lieutenants at basic school in Quantico, Va.: “Your salute,” he pronounced, “must be impeccable,” by which we took him to mean like his: a straight line running from elbow to fingertips, the fingers and thumb forming a seamless whole, the arm brought swiftly to the brim of the cap, no palm showing, and then lowered smartly to the side.

Presidents have long been saluted, but they began returning salutes relatively recently. Ronald Reagan was thought to be the first, in 1981. He had sought advice on the matter from Gen. Robert Barrow, commandant of the Marine Corps. According to John Kline, then Mr. Reagan’s military aide and today a member of Congress from Minnesota, General Barrow told the president that as commander in chief he could salute anybody he wished. And so it began.

Mr. Reagan’s successors continued the practice, and I continued to be conflicted — believing that when it comes to salutes (and one or two other matters), presidents deserved to be cut some slack, but also feeling a little uneasy about the whole thing.

My ambivalence came to an end last week, when I saw a videotape of the president’s midnight trip to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where he had participated, very early that morning, in the “dignified transfer” of 15 Army soldiers and three Drug Enforcement Administration agents killed that week in Afghanistan. Mr. Obama stood ramrod straight and saluted as six soldiers carried the coffin bearing the body of Sgt. Dale Griffin of Indiana off a C-17 transport aircraft and into a waiting van. His salute, it struck me, was impeccable in every way.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press President Obama at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Oct. 29, 2009.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press
President Obama at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Oct. 29, 2009.

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