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Op-Ed: The Obama 'latte salute' debacle is overblown

By Calvin Wolf     Sep 23, 2014 in Politics
Washington D.c. - President Barack Obama was captured on Instagram saluting a U.S. Marine...while holding a cup of coffee in the same hand. The photo has now wound up on the front page of CNN and is burning up the blogosphere.
As far as mini-scandals go, at least this one has a catchy name: The "latte salute." President Barack Obama, while exiting his presidential helicopter, Marine One, saluted a U.S. Marine whilst holding a cup of coffee in his saluting hand. This made for an awkward and unprofessional salute. The photo, which appeared on Instagram, is now burning up the blogosphere and has even made the front page of CNN. I'm often a big critic of Obama, but this time it's the naysayers who need to chill.
First of all, let me acknowledge that the president did make a mistake. He should not have made the latte salute. He should not do so again. It is a teachable moment.
That being said, even ardent Republicans should acknowledge that being president of the United States is a stressful, draining job that requires much coffee to be consumed. Frankly, I want my president to be sufficiently caffeinated. Though Obama could probably have left his coffee on the chopper and gotten another one from an aide moments later, I understand him holding on to his latte. Honestly, critics would probably complain about wasteful spending if the president abandoned half-drank cups of coffee. The prez needs his joe.
Secondly, the president salutes people all the time. He is surrounded by military personnel and other important folk. Over time, his snappy salute probably gets a bit casual. Can you blame him? He probably makes scores of salutes a day, shakes a gross number of hands, and exchanges countless pleasantries. And every one is photographed by someone, meaning any sloppy salute, weak shake, or eye roll is digitally recorded for all of eternity. Give the man a break.
Third, Obama probably has bigger things on his mind than the perfect salute. He is bombing a nefarious terrorist organization deep within a foreign country, with whom we are also hostile, and he is probably terrified at the likelihood of a retaliatory terror attack. He needs his coffee to get through the day and handle top-secret stuff that might keep ISIS suicide bombers from entering the U.S. and targeting schools, hospitals, and military bases. Let's not sweat the small stuff when our nation's chief executive is operating at a frantic pace in a time of crisis.
Barack Obama should have made a better salute. However, he is the commander-in-chief and he has important things on his mind. Republicans should focus on scrutinizing his policies, not his poise, and especially not on such a stressful day. Shame on you nit-pickers who don't have bigger stuff to blog about! What about increasing income and wealth inequality? The growing student debt bubble? America's lagging public education compared to other industrialized nations? ISIS and terrorism? Russia and Ukraine?
Obama, you've earned your latte. Next time, just leave it on the chopper, snap off a crisp salute, and sent Biden down to Starbucks to get you another one. And if you want pumpkin spice, I won't begrudge it!
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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