After images of his disrespectful salute to the Marines on duty with Marine 1 went viral, supporters of Obama have taken to passing around a somewhat similar photo of George Bush as a rebuttal. TI don’t really want to defend Bush as that is a distraction from the issue at hand, rather I want to dissect the controversy based on two main points. Generally that putting down someone else is not really a defense Obama, and Obama saluting with a coffee cup is disrespectful at a level most civilians would not understand. Not that I think offense was intended, obviously, it was more just careless. Even so, in my days in the service I would receive a serious but chewing for doing what Obama did.
The first question that must be asked is if the best Obama’s acolytes have to work with is saying the guy that was president a decade ago was also terrible? As if to say “sure Obama’s bad, but that William Henry Harrison from 100 years ago…he was really bad also…” That is not quite hope and change. The reason Obama’s followers are falling back on the “blame Bush” defense is because there really is no excuse. After six years in office as a commander in chief of a nation at war Obama should understand the customs and courtesies of the military he leads.
The second and more serious angle is that in the dog photo Bush’s right hand is free, as is required when rendering a proper salute. In the Obama photo the coffee is in his right hand while saluting, which makes it improper and disrespectful. Obama could have moved the coffee to his left hand, as Bush did with his dog…or dropped the coffee altogether, as many of us have done in order to render the proper salute. Bush’s salute was sloppy and would have warranted a few words with a Sergeant Major, but was generally in line with AR 600-25, Obama’s was not. The two are not really comparable.
Also, per AR-600-25 Bush did not have to return the salute in this photo as he was carrying items “in both hands so as to make a proper salute impractical.”
Ironically, there is some debate about whether or not presidents even have to return a salute rendered to them from the military. Generally, President’s did not return salutes to members of the military as they are civilian and not military leadership. President Reagan made a habit returning a crisp salute to service members, and this is certainly allowed, a salute is simply a gesture of respect between superiors and subordinates. Since Reagan the tradition of presidents returning salutes to service members has stuck.
If you were in the military, I am sure you get where I am coming from.