The Dickster's elder daughter, Liz(ard) Cheney, predictably criticized the POTUS (44) for his trip to Dover AFB to honor eighteen (15 military and 3 DEA agents) who recently died in Afghanistan. Liz(ard) told a (what else) Faux News radio host: “I think that what President Bush used to do is do it without the cameras.” Wrong, Lizard-Breath! There were no cameras at Dover during The Dubster's presidency and there was NO DUBSTER! The POTUS (43) never went to Dover to pay his respects to the fallen. Just as well because that fool just would have stood there with his frat-boy smirk. Lizard-Breath's daddy, The Dickster, also smirks when he's not sneering. The proper antidote to a smirk is snark. If this is a (fair & balanced) antidote to gratuitous facial expressions, so be it.
Copyright © 2009 Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press
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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 Captain 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 General 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 Sergeant 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. Ω
[Carey Winfrey is the editor of Smithsonian magazine. Winfrey is a 1963 graduate of Columbia College and a 1967 graduate of the Journalism School of Columbia University. A lieutenant in the U. S. Marine Corps in the 1960s, Winfrey has since collected a series of journalism credentials, including writing for Time magazine, winning an Emmy Award at PBS in 1974, reporting for The New York Times, and landing a job as editor-in-chief of Cuisine. He founded Memories magazine and spent six years as editor-in-chief of American Health. Before landing at Smithsonian in 2001, he spent several years as an assistant managing editor at People magazine.]
Copyright © 2009 The New York Times Company
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Copyright © 2009 Sapper's (Fair & Balanced) Rants & Raves