Not too long ago I was visiting Arlington Cemetery with an old Army buddy of mine. While we were in Section 60 looking for a few specific fallen warriors of Operation Enduring Freedom, we saw a group of Marines — the Honor Guard — performing their duties. What followed was a short conversation about what it takes to become a member in each branch of service. Long story short, the Marine Honor Guard is no joke. You have to be one “squared away” soldier. That’s not to say that the Army’s Honor Guard doesn’t have “squared away” soldiers but, let’s just say the “cut of the jib” of the Marines is a tad sharper. (Yes, it pains me to say that.)
With that said, I was astonished a few weeks ago when President Obama met in the White House Rose Garden with the Turkish prime minister, only to use a pair of Marines like they were his former body man Reggie Love, or perhaps “Diddy’s” Fonzworth Bentley. I had never seen a Marine with an umbrella, and while I was in a mechanized infantry unit I can’t recall anyone — ever — using an umbrella. I’m assuming that part of it has to do with the fact that your hands need to be free to salute at a moment’s notice, and the other is that guys who sleep under the stars for weeks on end, in any weather, don’t really notice when it’s drizzling out.
Pictures can say so many things, and it seems like a president needs to have a sixth sense when it comes to the message he’s sending at any given moment. I can not for the life of me think that Ronald “no helmets” Reagan would ever call on a Marine to hold an umbrella for him.
There’s a story about President Regan’s meeting with Gorbachev at the Geneva Summit in 1985. On a bitter cold day, Reagan walked out looking strong and sharp in just his suit and tie, while Gorbachev (who was actually a bit younger) came out in a hat, scarf and winter coat. Apparently, the media noticed and it sparked conversations about the different trajectories of the two nations. Given that Reagan was an actor, it seems that his keen sense of the camera paid off. If there is a picture of Reagan awkwardly balancing a Marine’s elbow to position an umbrella, please send it my way.
The face on the Marine holding President Obama’s umbrella is priceless, but one must admit that he still looks damn sharp. Yes, Marines would look sharp holding a salami over their head for no apparent reason, but the guy still deserves a pat on the back and a firm handshake for rolling with it.
I want a president who can give a press conference outside in the elements while exuding a “screw it, we’re doing this” vibe at all times, no matter what the weather is.
And the weird thing is, we know Obama can do it. He has.
Even as a hard core conservative, I have to admit that Obama on the campaign trail soaked to the core is pretty cool. In the case of the Rose Garden press conference, if Obama was concerned about Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, fine — but don’t get a Marine to hold an umbrella. There had to be a few interns or low level staffers who could have held an umbrella for a few minutes. Marines carry rifles. They do not carry umbrellas.
I’m sure the president won’t make that mistake again, but at this point it doesn’t matter. He’ll still have eight years in office when it’s all said and done, and if Republicans don’t get their act together they’ll be the ones out in the rain. Again.
Rubio/Paul? Paul/Rubio? Cruz/Rubio? Rubio/Cruz? A man can dream, can’t he?