Perhaps the president meant it as an insult; perhaps not. But we know the president is vain – after all, he has already written two books about himself –- and he’s also very stage-aware. He knew what he was doing. President Obama was striking a pose.
While the usual suspects want to make apologies for him – and of course, immediately blame President Bush – this has hit a nerve. If we were still under a traditional liberal media monopoly, this might have been swept under the rug. But in the age of social media, this short clip has taken on a life of its own, and the timing could not be worse for the president from a policy or political standpoint.
The reason this is so bad for President Obama is because he just broke the cardinal rule of not playing to his negative stereotypes. As I have written before, President Obama has a problem with the military and military culture. So to do something as belittling and insulting as this “latte salute” is not trivial; it suggests and reinforces something larger at a time when the president is expecting the military to take action, in part to compensate for his past failures.
This video has gone viral. It’s been seen by Obama’s supporters, Obama’s critics, Democratic candidates, the troops, military families, foreign leaders, ISIS lunatics and everyone in between. They all witnessed what the president did, and by now, they have all drawn some conclusion. This won’t alter the course of the war, but it certainly won’t help. President Obama should know better.
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(Editor’s note: This post was updated Oct. 2 to correct the aircraft from which President Obama was descending. It was Marine One, not Air Force One.)