The White House put out a video this morning of President Obama exiting Marine 1 in New York wearing sun glasses and carrying what appears to be a styrofoam or paper cup in his right hand. In the video it appears as he descends the last step he suddenly notices there are two Marines standing at attention and saluting him - something they do each and every time he boards or exits the helicopter. Sometimes there is one, sometimes there are two.
The President rendered a pitiful salute with the cup still clutched in his hand. It is said the President drinks tea rather than coffee most of the time - particularly when he is going to make a speech. He saluted the Marines with a tea cup.
Once the White House posted the video on Instagram it was game-on for Obama's critics and for military members, both active duty and veterans. For the life of me I can't understand why the White House would publish a video like that. Is there no one with the good sense to know that it would be offensive to many people? Or do they simply just not care?
The military salute is an honor given the President by all service members who are on Presidential details, be it at the White House, a foreign airport or a U.S. military base. Although the President is not required by any written protocol to return the salute, it has been customary since Ronald Reagan was President. Every President since has done it out of respect for the young service members who not only show the President that respect but who would die for him if necessary. President Obama does OK most of the time.
Last May, when boarding Marine 1, the President walked right by the young Marine standing at attention at the bottom of the stairs, holding a salute as the President passed. Obama got on the helicopter then, either realizing his mistake or having it pointed out to him, he exited the aircraft, spoke to the Marine and shook his hand. I gave him credit at the time for acknowledging the young Marine. I'm sure he (the Marine) would have been satisfied if the President had only stepped back out and saluted him but what Obama did was acceptable to me. I know others will disagree.
This time it was worse and there's not much that can change it. Even though he was never in the military, after nearly six years President Obama knows there will be saluting service members at the bottom of the step each and every time he enters or exits an aircraft. It's protocol. He really has no valid reason to screw it up. Yet, he did.
Some have said it's not a big deal; that there are far more important things to worry about than whether or not the President of the United States salutes his military escort. And they would be correct. There are more important things to worry about. But the salute is about respect. The young enlisted men show respect to the President by offering a salute as he approaches. They do it each and every time. Is it really such a difficult task for the President to return that respect - even if it isn't genuine?
Many believe the President doesn't much like our military as a whole. He seems to demonstrate that at times through his actions. I don't know if he does or not but returning respect to one or more enlisted men who volunteered for your detail and would do anything you asked them to do shouldn't be something taken lightly.
President Obama - if I may - I would like to give you a little advice. Please take the time to show some attention and respect to the military members who volunteer for your detail - every time. Not only did they volunteer but they had to go through some rigorous screening to ensure they qualified for the job. They are there to protect and serve you. Even given the possibility that they don't like you personally, they respect and honor the position that you hold and would die protecting you. They deserve your respect in return.
As I stated earlier - a salute is a sign of respect. Those Marines deserved a real salute, not a tea cup salute. Shame on you, Sir.