Once again, the shrieking outrage over a photograph of President Barack Obama saluting with a cup of coffee in his hand as he steps off Marine One reveals that there is nothing too small or trivial but that the American right won’t throw a giant hissy fit over it.

It’s all very amusing — until you realize what it says about the state of right-wing thinking.

By now, I’m sure you’ve seen the photo: President Obama, on his way to the U.N., stepping off the helicopter, flanked by saluting Marines on either side. He has his coat slung over one arm and is returning the salute with, horror of horrors, a cup in his hand.

Of course, the right-wing hysteria machine, apparently made up of people who have nothing better to do than comb through every photograph of the president looking for something to be apoplectic about, leapt immediately into action.

“How disrespectful was that?” Republican strategist Karl Rove asked. Half-Term Governor Sarah Palin mocked Obama’s lack of military service in a speech to a “Christian values” convention, a speech in which she also identified the president’s home address as “1400 Pennsylvania Avenue” — actually the address of a park next to the historic Willard Hotel. (It should be noted that neither Rove nor Palin served in the military.)

The National Republican Senatorial Committee even created a website — yes, an entire website — to protest.

Thing is, the president isn’t required to salute at all, and in this situation probably shouldn’t have. According to the regulations published by the Department of the Army (and available online), a salute isn’t required when “carrying articles with both hands” and “when either the senior or the subordinate is wearing civilian clothes.”

In addition, for 192 years of our nation’s history, presidents (including war heroes like Ulysses S. Grant, Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower) didn’t return the salute at all. The practice originally started with Ronald Reagan, who apparently ran around saluting everything in a uniform.

When a Marine aide let him know that that wasn’t standard protocol, Reagan went to the commandant of the Marine Corps, who told him, “You’re the [bad word] president. You can salute whoever you want.”

Of course, you can just imagine the howling that would have ensued if Obama hadn’t saluted at all. Or if, like the President Who Must Not Be Named, he was photographed, several times, saluting while holding his Scottish terrier in one hand. That’s different, we’re told by the Raging Right. Because — just because it is, OK?

So what next? Will Darell Issa convene hearings on “Latte-gate?” Will there be subpoenas demanding to know if the president took cream or sugar, and if so, was it an American brand? Will there be a breathless (and quickly debunked) expose on “60 Minutes”?

“Tonight on ‘60 Minutes,’ some guy you’ve never heard of who claims to have been a barista on Marine One has written a book in which he details his harrowing experiences on Sept. 23, 2014. He tells us how he would have heroically taken the cup from the president’s hand himself, but received a ‘stand down order’ for some reason we don’t know, but which we know is somehow Obama’s fault. I’m Lara Logan, and am as baffled as you are as to why I still have a job.”

More likely, “latte” will became the new “teleprompter”: a word wingnuts randomly drop into any conversation about the president in an attempt to craft a clever insult that only serves to point out how mindless and ill-informed the person delivering it actually is.

Example: “Wow, did you hear some guy jumped the fence and broke into the White House?” “Yeah, Obama was so surprised he nearly dropped his latte. Get it? Latte! HAW HAW HAW!”

It’s important, the wingnuts say, because it shows a pattern. They’re right, but not in the way they think. The real pattern is this: The right has certain narratives, certain themes they cling to. In this case, the theme is “Obama hates the military.” This is patently absurd, as anyone outside the right-wing anti-information bubble knows. But the truth doesn’t matter to these people. Any information that contradicts the narrative is rejected. Anything they come across, no matter how minor, is warped to fit the theme.

Fix the facts around the theory, instead of the other way around. Sound familiar? That’s the right-wing mindset that got us into the Iraq War. And that’s where it stops being amusing.

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(24) comments

Mark Hayes

It gets more and more difficult to watch the news, Obama has his minions reciting prepared statements that a juvenile could see through, does Obama really think we are all as ignorant as him? This Pentagon spokesperson is the worst, very hard to watch a Military person continue to stand before a nation and lie just because he is told to do so by a President who knows no shame.

Maybe DR can write his next column on the Obama admin's actions regarding Ebola. He can ridicule those of us who are raising legitimate concerns and regale us on his and the presidents expansive knowledge on managing deadly infectious diseases.

Where are all the usual Obama defenders. In the past they have never failed to show up here and defend/explain away the actions of the president. I guess because they understand as we all do that Ebola doesn't discriminate on basis of sex, creed, race, socio economic status, political party, etc. This cannot be spun but they still cannot bring themselves to write anything that would appear to criticize the president.

Mark Hayes

Now the family of this Mr Duncan have asked Jesse Jackson to see what is being done, they feel that Mr Duncan is not getting the same treatment as the others, next the NAACP will be protesting in Dallas claiming racism, it never stops. Instead of being grateful for this man being treated, they criticize.

maybe some of the local Obama supporters can help explain why a travel ban on those coming here from ebola stricken countries actually makes us less safe as explained by the president. Of course its just more carp from the admin but its always entertaining watching his fans try to justify his bonehead decisions. Its almost like he wants the US to have widespread Ebola. I guess it fits with the "fundamental transformation" theme

Lee Gulley

".... actually makes us less safe as explained by the president."
Sort of off topic but you might be interested in this from infowars, and yes I know this is sort of a fringe site.

Breaking: Sheriff’s Deputy Who Was Forced to Enter Ebola Apartment Falls Ill

CDC faces embarrassment over potential second Ebola case


Frank Staples

OP, would you please explain where and when I have over reacted?? And since you are a veteran and should be accorded a certain amount of respect for your service then you should, of all people, know why the liar in chief's "salute", even if not required, should have been rendered with respect...and as I have said before, the liar doesn't have any respect for this country or the people who put their lives in harm's way for it!!

Richard Wright

If there is a "Hater" on the block, one might look first towards Dusty and then towards Obama. Dusty hates anyone who might criticize liberal in general or Obama specifically. Let's face it, just look at the vitriol in Rhoades's language. Obama does no wrong in his very narrow and biased view.

As for Obama, he hates the rich, the unborn, Christians and hard working Americans. I doubt he thinks much about the military. Obama's glib salute indicated that he had no idea, much like his other responses to those issues he found out while reading the morning paper.

We should be more concerned with the readiness of our military, far weaker than when he entered office, with moral poor and missions undetermined. Sending 3000 troops to ebola country is not in our national interests and will do little to stem the tide of the disease. The air strikes against the NISIS (non-Islamic state of Iraq and Syria) is an action that will do nothing to chance the game - PR instead or WAR.

Mark Hayes

Pilot, your right, and since you have " been there and done that " your input should be taken as intended, and we should thank you for attempting to explaining the message that this columnist was trying to convey, which was what? Seems all of the articles he contributes are just inflammatory and condescending directed towards local Republicans. Your comment regarding no need for Military service in order to be in elected position is questionable, there again you may be on the side of right, but those who have not should not be governing over Military matters with complete and unquestioned authority, sending those in to do what they themselves have little stomach for. The columnist intended to get the very reaction his article caused, we all are rather accustomed to that, he is after all fulfilling his goal, look at the number of rebuttals comments, he loves it. As for you, we must have been in a different Marine Corps, the one I served in was one that demonstrated pride and respect for all that were deserving, this columnist just does not qualify to be shown any level of that respect. You sound as if you have lost some of that pride, or maybe you never really had it. Moving on from here, this article and the author have succeeded again to create that which was intended, to spark controversial debate, this weekly column seems to be his greatest achievements, it must give him a sense of gratification, I would consider it more like an addiction.

gail hanley

Old Pilot, the point of writing a column is to spark debate. Very often polarizing writers like Dusty will spark that debate. That was the point of his column to begin with. He simply did what everyone in the media did. Nothing particularly enlightening. The real enlightenment comes from the comments. It always does no matter what the writer or subject. If the President can't give the Marines that protect his behind respect then who? To your way of thinking the tradition has to be as old as the US to be a legitimate one. So why not bother to do away with please and thank you. Might as well not open a door for the disabled. Don't bother to wipe your feet off before entering another's home or have any manners at all. Your argument is much like Clinton's argument about the technical aspects off what defines sex. If Obama can take time out of his schedule to weigh in on every minute local case of debated racism than I'm sure putting down the latte wouldn't hurt him. Maybe I would feel better if he wasn't exiting the plane with a latte in his hand just because it makes him look like Bono or Ben Affleck and not the President. You simply can't be this dense unless you are on drugs. In which case I can understand your opinion.

I suppose all the "Obama lovers" think its just dandy to send our military members to the Ebola hot zone. Even dumber, not banning travel here from that region. Is anyone on the left speaking out on either of these two issues? We know the answer to that.

Dan Roman

To one and all, once again, the subject of the column wasn't the salute or lack thereof, it was the media hysteria concerning the salute or lack thereof.
You people need to learn to read and comprehend what you have read.
Your collective reaction proves the point the columnist made, utter and complete overreaction to a non-event.
For skylinefirepest: your overreaction is standard operating procedure for you and we accept and discount it as such
For pearlharbor: since a salute was not required and doing so a development of recent history (see the column) why is the whole manufactured issue such a big deal to you or anyone else, that being the point of the column?
For Francis: Parris Island, Camp Lejeune, specialty training? What makes you think you are so special? Been there, done that, late '60s. That was then. Saluting the yellow bus stop stripe on telephone poles and yellow fire hydrants. This is now. Some of us mature beyond what we did at 22 years of age. One doesn't have to have been in the service, drafted or volunteer, to be able to offer valid observations such as presented in this column.

Keith Miller

Mrs Pearlharbor summed up the opinion / article of Mr Rhoades in her 1st post !! Mr Rhoades is grasping for anything to keep the progressive socialist party in power.

Unfortunately, Mr Rhoades probably doesn't have to try so hard, your party probably has enough people on the welfare system to keep the socialist party in power !!

Frank Staples

It works like this, Old Pilot, and Dusty...if you have served then you wouldn't even question the gesture of respect. If you haven't, as Dusty and his buddy obumma haven't, then it is simply an issue that you don't understand when someone makes light of it. The lack of respect that obumma shows the troops indicates the condescending attitude that he has towards the very people who protect our country, our freedom, our way of life. Liberals typically don't care for our military and show it almost at every chance. It's not that the right made a big thing out of it...it IS a big thing. Don't believe me? Ask any military member or veteran. And just so Dusty knows for sure who is belittling his lack of understanding, I am Frank Staples, former Sgt., USAF, current fireman.

Mark Hayes

The column is much to do about nothing, the results of that are what is so gratifying to the columnist, he has a few commenting on his article, and in the end that is all he really cares about, just a little bit of recognition. Having served in a Marine Recruiting station my last year of service we would see several like this columnist join, only to see them be returned back home after a few weeks or sometimes days from Parris Island boot camp, rejected as incompatible for Military service, in the late 60's Drill Instructors would have had field day with Mr Rhoades.

gail hanley

I don't know old pilot, it wouldn't have taken Obama more than a second to put down the latte and salute properly. I agree with you that it became a media circus. And I tend to wonder what happened to the real journalists. The ones that go out and look for the stories no one would know about it if wasn't for them. This latte crowd sit and wait to pounce on a story that won't necessarily have long lasting traction or consequences. It's almost as if they really don't have a grasp of world history and their political knowledge is tantamount to Miley's twerking graphically obscene. They love to beat a dead horse and Obama keeps giving them one to beat.

Dan Roman

The subject of the column isn't the salute or lack thereof, it is the commentary from certain segments of the media concerning the salute or lack thereof.

Janice Ryckeley

You are more than kind. The place I belong is at the bedside for cardiac patients. It's my mission. I appreciate the opportunity to read the dialogue. Y'all are professional people.

gail hanley

Perhaps you should have your own column flight nurse. Truly The Pilot could use a voice from recent military experience. Our county is populated with the military and they should have a voice. I always learn something from your thoughts. I constantly look for opinions that vary from mine because anything else is like listening to yourself. Thanks for the education.

Janice Ryckeley

Maybe this explains how it looks to me: you know you can read a book, but that does not mean you experienced the reality. It concerns me when I read less than one percent of the population have ever served. One per cent. Just that percentage lends a huge margin for potential error in understanding terms such as "mission", "objectives", amphibious assault, ground operations, air support (close air, tactical and strategic), planning and operations, budget programming and logistics to include "air bridges", and maintenance. When you understand the orchestration of four branches of the service, (joined together in service = purple, if you will), you quickly appreciate the men and women who serve & perform their jobs every day: unsung heroes, by and large. What I can tell you is there is unparalleled opportunity for growth and potential leadership for those who choose to join and serve. I can't speak for the other branches; I do know the AF would take an every-day person, send them to school(s), practice and train until they were basically proficient in their AFSC (AF Specialty Code) and either continue them through the various grades until the individual separated or retired. It was all about leadership. There were mentors in various places, good ones. With that responsiblity came a sense of dignity and internal discipline for your contribution to the mission.

The salute is acknowledgement of contribution to the mission, no matter the most recent tasking. In the case above, the commander in chief (CINC) was delivered safely and soundly to his destination. Every one present on that day made their observations, said nothing, went home and came back the next day to do it all over again. When you understand the discipline instilled inside of those men and women, a salute becomes reflexive.

Service to one's country should be an automatic three-four year tour. It taught me to grow, mature, learn some organization skills, develop purpose in life and figure out a plan to get there. You travel, meet people from other cultures and learn the world does not revolve around yourself.

And you learn to appreciate others.

Janice Ryckeley

You may know this already: about these schools I spoke of above. They go by such names as Squadron Officer School, Command & Staff, the War College, etc. One of the numerous objectives within those schools is you study various conflict and where it went right or wrong and why we either won or lost. They would bring in these speakers who lived the experience. For example, Google Admiral Grace Hopper from the US Navy, Lt Gen Robert Springer from the AF, etc. They all came to speak. We had to study and present on the objectives, aligned plans/operations, results and why it happened the way it did. Then you returned to your normal job, but you learned to listen and think in a more informed manner. Some call it "critical thinking" or analytical thinking vs "negativity". herein lies the value of education. You learn to take in, weigh and balance the contributions and points of view of others. You learn to think and work as a team member which translates well in many circles. One day you will be "in charge" - that could be a whole new situation or "mission".

Perhaps the value of education cannot be overstated. I appreciate your humoring my thoughts; I apologize if I rambled. Maybe you see why I read these columns. They challenge my opinion and thought processes. I may not necessarily agree with everything I read; regardless, I believe we probably all love the 1st amendment which provides for freedom in well-researched, substantative and thoughtful debate, much of which is grounded in experience. Thank you and have a peaceful evening.

gail hanley

Flight nurse, I was wondering do you think Obama hates the military? It does come up a lot in conversation from the media on the right. I feel but don't know Obama doesn't understand the military and the commitment involved in being part of it. And yet he's the commander-in-chief. I think there is no way that he can fully appreciate the sacrifices made because he has never had to make them. But I don't really know what the military thinks because they are so respectful of his position and title they are not allowed to even speak of their opinion.

Janice Ryckeley

I gave serious thought to just ignoring this. However, there is a consistent theme in the editorial and in the above reader's response that bears repeating: respect. It's not about who is in charge of whom, it's about teamwork. Individuals do not win wars, teams win wars. The military is about teamwork. Teamwork stems from respect. Respect traditionally is rendered via a salute to other teammates and superiors alike. I would have placed the latte down inside Marine One on the nearest shelf, exited and returned the salute. After twenty years in uniform, understand and believe the three seconds required to return a salute would have communicated the right message with no further discussion. Respect is a nonverbal message, easily sensed. Thank you for the opportunity to write. Have a very good day.

gail hanley

Oh God, if it wasn't that important why on earth would you write a whole column about it? George Bush saluted with his dog once. No one paid that much attention because most thought George Bush to be a little lacking in intelligence. Obama comes off like he's arrogant. Even when he debated Hillary it wasn't that he was taller than her that made him look down on her he has the attitude of a man that somewhere along the line people gave him the impression he was anointed. It was disrespectful. His goal was always to get elected and be the first don't think he gave much thought to what he would do once that happened. Brilliant candidate limp President.

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