Fair is fair - I have criticized the policies or pronouncements of President Obama when I thought appropriate, but here I call your attention to Toby Harnden's piece yesterday, "Top 10 gaffes by Barack Obama and Joe Biden." I'll not recount them here. Suffice to say that yes, they really are gaffes, which Harnden (a US-based reporter for the UK Telegraph paper) documents by including the YouTube videos thereof. But his fifth entry is this:
A Marine One double. First, on his maiden Marine One trip Obama breaches protocol and makes life uncomfortable for an enlisted marine by shaking the the serviceman's hand as he's saluting his commander-in-chief:Here's the video:
Harnden links to a Foxnews story about how shaking the Marine's hand was a breach of protocol:
When President Obama boarded Marine One for his first flight as commander-in-chief, he decided to break from tradition. Departing from the South Lawn of the White House for a trip to Williamsburg, Va., the new president extended his hand to a U.S. Marine standing in salute at the base of the helicopter's steps.What "tradition" did Obama depart from? The same piece goes on to say that no president, including retired five-star general D. D. Eisenhower, ever returned salutes of military personnel. This "tradition," such as it is, was begun by Ronald Reagan. In fact, I remember reading that Ike explained that saluting was a privilege only of those wearing the uniform.
Even so, it is the height nitpickery to criticize Obama for what this video shows. He did in fact return the salute, and I say (as a retired Army officer) that his return was darn well executed, too. Bill Clinton never did so well. Second, I have witnessed on many, many occasions a general officer return a salute and immediately offer his hand for a shake. I've done so myself, though for less ceremonial reasons than this. I also think it was a nice gesture for a new president to make when boarding Marine One for the first time. I don't expect him to make a habit, though. Were I that young Marine, I would have appreciated it.
Get a grip folks. There are plenty of legitimate criticisms, even severe ones, to make of this president so far. Don't adulterate the impact of legitimate criticisms by making silly ones like this.