Skip to comments.President's salute not a good idea [Progressives find something else wrong, Reagan did it]
Posted on 03/27/2007 4:43:39 PM PDT by SJackson
It raised eyebrows back in 1981 when new President Ronald Reagan began returning the military salutes of the servicemen standing guard when he'd disembark from Air Force One or from Marine 1, the helicopter that would deliver him to the White House lawn.
No presidents before had returned those salutes, not even Dwight D. Eisenhower, who just seven years before he took office had been a five-star Army general. Reagan, who had held the rank of captain in the Army Air Corps during World War II, changed all that and every president since, including our present one, renders the salute.
Although it was far from the biggest issue of the day, many commentators did question the practice at the time, pointing out that while, yes, the president was commander in chief of the military, he wasn't a military person himself and by saluting was insinuating that he was.
I hadn't heard much about that issue since, but noted author Garry Wills, a professor emeritus of history at Northwestern University, brought it up again in an op-ed column he wrote for the New York Times earlier this year.
"We hear constantly now about 'our commander in chief.' The word has become a synonym for 'president.' It is said we 'elected a commander in chief.' It is asked whether this or that candidate is 'worthy to be our commander in chief.'
"But the president is not our commander in chief. He certainly is not mine. I am not in the Army," Wills wrote.
Wills recalled how he cringed back in 1973 when Richard Nixon's chief of staff, Al Haig, tried to justify Nixon's "Saturday Night Massacre" firings because the attorney general and deputy attorney general had refused an order from their "commander in chief."
"President Nixon was not (Elliot Richardson's or William Ruckelshaus') commander in chief," he commented. "The president is not the commander in chief of civilians. He is not even the commander in chief of National Guard troops unless and until they are federalized."
It all may seem like small potatoes, but Wills and others see that attitude and the extension of the salutes as the increasing militarization of U.S. politics.
"The citizenry at large is now thought of as under military discipline," Wills wrote. "The executive branch takes actions in secret, unaccountable to the electorate, to hides its moves from the enemy and protect national secrets."
The bottom line, Wills said, is that "the representative is accountable to citizens. Soldiers are accountable to their officer. The dynamics are different, and to blend them is to undermine the basic principles of our Constitution."
OK, it's about all branches, but mostly the President is around Marines in his daily activities.
I never met a President, but my recollection is that when I'm in uniform any senior officer, even if civilian clothing, is due the respect of a salute.
Am I forgetting something here?
No disrespect intended for Ike or any or Reagan's predecessors.
I am not in the Army," Wills wrote.
Then he should mind his own business. What is he...JEALOUS? Worried about militarizing politics?????????? Get a life Wills.
This seems to correspond with an article earlier today about Hillary figuring out how to properly salute. Hmmm....
Well, I don't know the rules of the US military, but in the UK and Canada saluting and returning a salute is only done if one is wearing a uniform.
At least Reagan knew how to salute.
Somebody's thinking ahead to Hillary looking hillarious.
Missed that one. I don't want to know how Hillary salutes, I've seen her husband.
RR & Saluting/Marines
It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.
It is the soldier, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves under the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.
By Father Dennis Edward O'Brien, USMC
And Wills is on crack.
What a surprise coming from Commie Dave. As I've stated before, he and I served together in the military years ago.
He had the same contempt for the military back then, but he still cashed his paychecks!
He's SUCH an @ss.
Check the photos of FDR during WWII, he often returned the salute by placing his hand over his heart.
Just in case she becomes president. (The girl is conscientious!)
The salute is referred to as a "military courtesy." Reagan's return of the salute acknowledged and returned that courtesy; I saw it as an indication of the respect he held for our military and those of us serving in it.
I simply don't think this is ever going to be a pressing issue or our time but I'd prefer that Presidents not salute. I think the guy makes a couple of good points to boot. For my part however I just don't want Hillary saluting anybody, period.
Well, this is an easy one to figure out.
As Commander in Chief, the President has final say on military protocols and traditions of all kinds.
If the President wants to salute, the President salutes.
The President can never be wrong in regards to something like this. He is the final authority.
I've always looked sideways at a person in civilian clothes saluting a person in uniform. But the flipside is that, while a salute is certainly martial, the military doesn't "own" the gesture . . . and ultimately, that's all a salute is (if done by a civilian).
I never ceased to enjoy reviewing our men and women in uniform and hope I started a new tradition for presidents. As commander in chief, I discovered it was customary for our uniformed men and women to salute whenever they saw me. When I'd walk down the steps of a helicopter, for example, there was always a marine waiting there to salute me. I was told presidents weren't supposed to return salutes, so I didn't, but this made me feel a little uncomfortable.
Normally, a person offering a salute waits until it is returned, then brings down his hand. Sometimes, I realized, the soldier, sailor, marine, or airman giving me a salute wasn't sure when he was supposed to lower his hand. Initially, I nodded and smiled and said hello and thought maybe that would bring down the hand, but usually it didn't. Finally, one night when Nancy and I were attending a concert at the Marine Corps headquarters, I told the commandant of marines, "I know it's customary for the president to receive these salutes, but I was once an officer and realize that you're not supposed to salute when you're in civilian clothes. I think there ought to be a regulation that the president could return a salute inasmuch as he is commander in chief and civilian clothes are his uniform." "Well, if you did return a salute," the general said, "I don't think anyone would say anything to you about it."
The next time I got a salute, I saluted back. A big grin came over the Marine's face and down came his hand. From then on, I always returned salutes. When George Bush followed me into the White House, I encouraged him to keep up the tradition.
Courtesy of Simon and Schuster
Leadership speaks for itself.
You're quick, I WAS going to ping you.
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