Point/Counterpoint: Does the “Latte Salute” matter?

BY DI STAFF | SEPTEMBER 29, 2014 5:00 AM

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Last week, President Obama took a surprising amount of criticism for a simple action: saluting a pair of Marines with a Starbucks cup in his hand. Is this a flippant and disrespectful move, or is it being blown out of proportion? Daily Iowan staff members disagree.

Salute shows disrespectful attitude

Yes, he may have one of the most difficult jobs in the world and yes; he may be a bit preoccupied trying to control ISIS. But the fact remains, President Obama’s job, first and foremost, is as commander-in-chief and, as such, respect for those in the military should always be on his mind.

Last week’s “Latte Salute,” however, showed to the American public (and to the world) that Obama’s respect for those in the armed forces may be dwindling as his tenure forges on.

Generally speaking, I find myself on the “Democrat” side of most political debates, and, as such, I was a pretty big supporter of Obama in the early years. In fact, as Obama continues to take more and more criticism as his presidency progresses, I tend to lean toward cutting him a little slack.

But there has to be a line drawn somewhere. While it may seem relatively innocent at first glance, the Latte Salute is at best disrespectful and at worst, insulting.

Certain tasks can easily become second nature if they are repeated enough; this much is understandable. But as my Dad used to say, “practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.” If you’re thinking about what it is you’re doing as you do it rather than mindlessly going through the motions, you’re more likely to have a greater appreciation for that act.

Enter the “Latte Salute.”

Had Obama spent the past six years of his presidency truly appreciating those in the military and, furthermore, understanding the significance of the salute, he may not have been inclined to lackadaisically salute those Marines.

So perhaps this one incident of laziness and disrespect, itself, does not mean a whole lot. But the implications of this salute mean so much more. Obama is under a microscope every day, and it is the expectation of the American public that he will represent himself and our country to the best of his ability (something that the president should be well aware of). Taking time to execute a proper salute in order to show respect to the men and women who serve this country is the absolute least he can do.

— Joe Lane

It's not a big deal

There are lots of events competing for the world’s attention recently. ISIS has dominated international news, and several local tragedies have caught the attention of news outlets. However, there is one incident that has dominated every major political news network in the nation, something that has overshadowed other breaking news pieces. The controversy: President Obama saluted two Marines with a Starbucks Chai Tea in his hand.

Many people are aghast at this. Their outrage over such blatant disrespect for American troops has sparked a frenzy of backlash toward the president and the administration. Twitter is abuzz with scathing criticisms, and the networks have had a field day with the latest apparent political blunder.

It is the duty for the president, as commander-in-chief, to salute military personal in a respectful manner that shows his support for all for the work they are doing. Right?

Actually, that is debatable. The common standard of a presidential salute was not made an expectant gesture until Ronald Reagan took office.

In actuality, some of our most celebrated presidents refused to salute armed servicemen. Take, for example, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, former five-star general in the U.S. Army in World War II. Despite being a decorated veteran, he was known for rarely saluting. He was the president, yes, but he was quick to identify himself as a civilian. 

Despite all of these facts, Obama is seen as a pretentious president with little to no respect for his troops.

This doesn’t really bother me. Obama has been a political punching bag, just as every president has been before him. What does bother me is the fact that people care so much about this and to the extent they focus on it.

We are living in a world in which ISIS is a serious threat to the “peaceful” relations in the Middle East. A woman was beheaded in Oklahoma, and climate change is threatening the globe. This is all news, and they are issues that should be dealt with and properly explained by the media to the general public.

And what are we focusing on? Obama and Chai Tea.

— Christopher Cervantes

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