In what has been dubbed the “latte salute“, President Obama has come in for criticism after a video was released showing him saluting whilst carrying his coffee.
The official White House Instagram account published the video of the President descending from Marine One, the presidential helicopter, in New York. Whoever is responsible for social media presumably did not expect the video to cause such a furor, but within 24 hours the video had received nearly 2,500 comments on Instagram.
Obama’s latte salute disrespectful?
A debate ensued between users as to whether the President had broken protocol and disrespected the men and women that serve him.
Predictably the the National Republican Congressional Committee attempted to stir up controversy, saying: “(T)his might be the most absurd video of President Obama we’ve ever seen,” and is also using the video to ask for donations from offended viewers.
However other commentators have pointed out that the tradition of Presidents returning salutes from servicemen is relatively recent. Business Insider quotes Rachel Maddow’s book ‘Drift’, in saying that up until President Reagan began the practice, not one U.S. President had saluted military personnel. No official protocol exists on the matter.
To salute or not to salute
Those attempting to defend Obama also drew attention to some of the unorthodox salutes that former President George W. Bush gave to military personnel, including one particularly awkward attempt that he made whilst carrying his Scottish terrier Barney.
Some social media users reminded us that the video carries extra significance coming just one day after the President trumpeted the importance of a military coalition to combat the threat of ISIS in the Middle East.
Mr. Obama was on his way to the U.N. General Assembly at which he spoke on such topics as ISIS and the Ebola virus, although presumably leaving the unpaid New York City parking fines controversy for another day.