The president is not supposed to salute military personnel

In a thread yesterday, Paul K. mentioned Obama’s behavior in reaching out to shake the hand of an enlisted man who was standing saluting him, thus requiring the surprised man to shake the president’s hand and then return to the salute. As James N. tells us, Obama was not violating proper form, but actually returning to it.

James N. writes:

I bow to no one in my utter lack of respect or regard for Barack Obama.

Nevertheless, with regard to the practice of the President saluting military officers and returning their salutes—THAT is an entirely modern innovation. Civilians do not salute officers, nor do officers salute civilians. A civilian who mistakenly salutes an officer or an enlisted man should not have his gesture returned.

The status of the President as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and the Navy was created BECAUSE the President is a civilian. NO President prior to Ronald Reagan ever saluted officers or enlisted men attending him for precisely this reason (that’s also why commissioned officers didn’t vote until FDR, paranoid about the outcome in 1944, authorized the practice). [LA replies: I didn’t know this.]

No President should presume the military honor which the salute conveys. Even General of the Army Dwight David Eisenhower stopped saluting and receiving salutes when he became President. The logical continuation of the Reagan precedent would be for Obama to design a six-star dress uniform for himself, and start wearing a saber.

Be glad that he’s not saluting.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 19, 2009 05:34 PM | Send

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