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OMG! Obama Didn’t Salute a Marine!

From the same unhinged hysterics who brought you “Obama is a Muslim atheist terrorist traitor for having a Marine hold an umbrella for him” (but not all the Republican presidents who did the same thing, of course), gaze in wonder as the wingnuts throw a hissy fit over the president not saluting a Marine when he boarded Marine One last week. Breitbart clutches its collective pearls. Michelle Malkin gets her daily case of the vapors. Unfortunately, virtually every mainstream news agency followed suit as if this were actually news. It’s not. Reuters handled this years ago:

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.

But even if this wasn’t the case, who cares? Seriously, I just don’t understand people who flip out over such irrelevant nonsense. I just don’t. If you care more about such trivial bullshit as who can salute whom than you do about actual decisions to send people to die in a war, you’re seriously fucked in the head.

Comments

  1. Ben P says

    I figured this would happen, but seriously?

    I read the story on CNN last week when it happened. Obama was lost in thought or something, and got off the helicopter without saluting. He figured it out about 15 seconds later, ran back and personally shook the marine’s hand.

  2. says

    Ben #1 – “Obama was lost in thought or something, and got off the helicopter without saluting. He figured it out about 15 seconds later, ran back and personally shook the marine’s hand.”

    Of course the right-wing media cannot include this last part, because that makes the President look polite and courteous.

  3. oranje says

    The signs are more important than the signifiers to these people. It’s why the Pledge of Allegiance matters so much to them, but not necessarily upholding the principles talked about. It’s why we have to have not just the national anthem, but also God Bless America during a baseball game. Because we have to show our piety through words and symbols rather than policy and accomplishment.

  4. Jeremy Shaffer says

    Seriously, I just don’t understand people who flip out over such irrelevant nonsense. I just don’t. If you care more about such trivial bullshit as who can salute whom than you do about actual decisions to send people to die in a war, you’re seriously fucked in the head.

    Whether Obama saluted or not doesn’t really matter. He didn’t so it’s “Obama dissed the Marine because he doesn’t respect the military” but if he did it’d be “Obama’s never been in the military so his salute was disrespectful”. Ultimately, they focus on such trivialities either as cover for the fact that they have no policy or solutions or to hide the fact that their policy or solutions are terrible.

    As oranje at 3 points out, it’s more about the appearance than anything else in authoritarian mindsets. So long as the house looks pretty and the yard is beautiful it doesn’t matter if the house is about to collapse or the septic tank is on the brink of rupturing. That’s why they can look back at the fifteies as some Great Golden Era; nevermind the various social problems and the like, it looked like everything was great in the areas where it matters most to that mindset so it was great.

  5. dalemacdougall says

    Why is a civilian expected to salute anyone? That’s just ridiculous. He is untrained in proper saluting technique, as any civilian would be and an improperly returned salute could be insulting and embarrassing.

    And why do Americans think it’s ok to salute while not wearing any head dress? Oh, better stop before I go off on too much of a rant :)

  6. anandine says

    @dalemacdougall: You are right that civilians are not supposed to salute anyone. Reagan started the practice among presidents.

  7. cullen says

    Obama could cure cancer, personally, and still not get the credit for it from these toads.

    And as for comment 4 – they want the 50’s back. Except for the taxes (which were vastly higher in fact for both high-net-worth individuals and corporations than today) and the social chaos (caused by uppity minorities and ungrateful women not shutting up and doing as they were told and actually wanting some semblance of equality) or the largely gutted military (we nearly lost Korea because we were so ill-prepared for actual Communist aggression in a ground conflict). Those they want just like they are in the 2010’s, thanks very much.

    Basically, they want the fantasy of the 50s, not the reality.

  8. gwangung says

    The signs are more important than the signifiers to these people. It’s why the Pledge of Allegiance matters so much to them, but not necessarily upholding the principles talked about.

    Letter of the law, but not the spirit.

  9. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @5.dalemacdougall :

    why do Americans think it’s ok to salute while not wearing any head dress?

    Huh? It matters whether you are wearing a head dress (hat?) or not? That’s news to me although I am not a soldier.

    @6. anandine : “civilians are not supposed to salute anyone.”

    They aren’t? Or can’t?

    A salute generally is a sign of respect isn’t it? I salute you is after all a saying denoting one appreciate swhat someone else has done / written /said /whatever no?

    I wonder how that marine feels about it. At a guess I don’t think s/he minds somehow. If the POTUS did shake her /his hand then I’m reckon they’ll remember and respect that for a long while & I suspect they’d be embarrassed by the stink the rightwingers are kicking up on this. (Could be wrong of course IANAM.)

  10. scott says

    They know – just know, in their shriveled little hearts – that Obama is an illegitimate president. So they’re casting about for the one little thing that will be the last straw and prove it to the rest of us.

    They did the same thing to Clinton, because no Democrat *really* belongs in the Presidency; the Kenyan Usurper just makes them crazier than usual.

  11. says

    Basically, they want the fantasy of the 50s, not the reality.

    They want the world to become like an episode of Ozzie and Harriet. Suburban sterility where the harshest thing any kid says is “gee whiz.” Oh, and all white, off course.

    I say let them rant about umbrellas and salutes. All they’re accomplishing is making themselves look ridiculous and giving moderates a case of scandal fatigue.

  12. apatrick0516 says

    “Seriously, I just don’t understand people who flip out over such irrelevant nonsense.”

    Barack Obama is black thus different rules apply. At least, that’s what I’m seeing from the republicans.

  13. cjcolucci says

    I know that there is an elaborate military protocol about who salutes whom when, and that it involves, among other things, the wearing of hats. I don’t pretend to know those rules, just that they exist. I suppose if I were President, I’d ask someone, like the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, what those rules are, but as a first approximation, I’d be comfortable assuming that Eisenhower knew what the hell he was doing. And if I were inclined to go against the rules and salute when I shouldn’t, out of my personal sense of politeness, or crass political considerations, I’d ask the people for whom these rules exist whether they’d mind.

  14. Greg says

    A few points on civilians and saluting. I’m an Air Force person, so if I get something really wrong concerning another service, please let me know.

    You usually only salute another person outside. When you are outside, you usually have a hat on. So, you generally only salute with a hat on. The only time you salute inside is as part of a ceremony. One instance is when the National Anthem plays. The other time you salute a superior officer is when they give you an award, or when they are promoting or retiring you. One other time you may salute indoors is when you first report to your supervisor, but that seems to going out of practice.

    You never salute a civilian, with 2 exceptions. One is retired military personnel. They keep their rank for the rest of their lives. I’ve been saluted as I go onto a base. The other is the President. He is the Commander-in-Chief, the supreme commander of all the US military.

    I’ve occasionally seen people salute the Secretaries of the services (Secretary of the Army, for example) and the Secretary of Defense, but I don’t know the law or tradition about this situation.

  15. kantalope says

    Here’s the rules (short version)

    only officers get a salute
    lower ranking individual salutes first and holds salute until it is returned
    only salute while covered…this is marine-speak for wearing a hat: the tip of your index finger touches the bill of your cover(hat) so if you don’t have a hat you can see how this won’t work
    don’t salute indoors
    don’t salute while in combat zone — that points out who the officers are for the snipers you know

    there is other stuff but that will keep you out of trouble most of the time

    here’s the deal – you also have to salute the officer’s car as he drives by – they have little blue stickers so you can pick em out – and you just hold the salute until the car passes since theoretically the officer can’t take his hand off the wheel to return the salute and you might not see it in the car anyway. But you are screwed if you don’t see the blue sticker…oh yes.

    so marine holds salute until the president has moved on…he won’t feel bad that it is not returned

  16. Nentuaby says

    Does anybody else remember when the Right threw a massive shitfit the first time Clinton *did* throw a salute to a military review? I think it’s actually the first political stink I remember, back as a boy. Something about how he’d never been in the military and thus it was, essentialy, appropriative.

    So I guess the rule here is, being a Democratic president is disrespectful to the troops.

  17. Ysidro says

    “Does anybody else remember when the Right threw a massive shitfit the first time Clinton *did* throw a salute to a military review? I think it’s actually the first political stink I remember, back as a boy. Something about how he’d never been in the military and thus it was, essentialy, appropriative.

    So I guess the rule here is, being a Democratic president is disrespectful to the troops.”

    That’s the first thing I thought of when I saw a story on this current bit of fluff. You’re right, to them a Democratic president can never show respect to the American military. Everything they do will be wrong and it will be intentionally so. A lack of salute will not be a forgetful gesture, it will be an intentional insult. A salute by a president who didn’t serve will be seen as mocking the military. But only if they’re not Republican. Because that R makes everything holy.

  18. Roger says

    From Wikipedia: Although not required by law or military regulation, members of the uniformed services are encouraged to render salutes to recipients of the Medal of Honor as a matter of respect and courtesy regardless of rank or status and, if the recipients are wearing the medal, whether or not they are in uniform. This is one of the few instances where a living member of the military will receive salute from members of a higher rank.

  19. Matrim says

    Although not required by law or military regulation, members of the uniformed services are encouraged to render salutes to recipients of the Medal of Honor as a matter of respect and courtesy regardless of rank or status and, if the recipients are wearing the medal, whether or not they are in uniform. This is one of the few instances where a living member of the military will receive salute from members of a higher rank.

    Splitting hairs, but it’s generally understood that you are saluting the Medal, not the person. Which is why you may only salute them if they are wearing it (unless they’re an officer, then normal rules apply).

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