President Obama had a coffee in his right hand when he saluted the Marines at the foot of Marine One on Tuesday, and was immediately blasted by critics as being disrespectful to the U.S. Armed Forces.
Video of what the Internet quickly dubbed the #lattesalute was posted to the White House’s Instagram page…
…and outrage ensued.
One commenter on the Instagram clip wrote, “He should have switched hands and rendered the damn salute. Period. Respect for military custom is a big deal when you’re Commander in Chief and you’ve just committed those men and women to war.”
Although there’s no official regulation requiring the president to salute those in the armed forces, it has, per the New York Times, been tradition since Ronald Reagan started it in 1981. His White House successors followed suit, opting to properly salute the officers regardless of their own military status (or lack thereof).
Some are calling Obama’s casually caffeinated gesture “disrespectful,” while others are quick to point out that his predecessor George W. Bush issued a sloppy salute of his own back in 2001.
Latte gate happened as the president was landing in New York Tuesday ahead of today’s speech before the United Nations General Assembly.
During his address, he cited the racial strife in Ferguson, Missouri, as an example of where America has “failed to live up to our ideals.”
Obama was giving a much-anticipated address on global leadership, where he laid out his justification for the United States targeting terrorists in Syria and Iraq.
“I realize that America’s critics will be quick to point out that at times we too have failed to live up to our ideals; that America has plenty of problems within our own borders,” he said.
“This is true. In a summer marked by instability in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, I know the world also took notice of the small American city of Ferguson, Missouri — where a young man was killed, and a community was divided. So yes, we have our own racial and ethnic tensions.”
Ferguson made international news after a white police officer shot Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, on Aug. 9. Members of the majority-black St. Louis suburb turned out to protest in the weeks following the shooting, calling for justice and greater representation in their local government. Darren Wilson, the police officer who killed Brown, has not been charged with a crime.
Obama said despite the nation’s shortcomings, “we welcome the scrutiny of the world — because what you see in America is a country that has steadily worked to address our problems and make our union more perfect.”
“America is not the same as it was 100 years ago, 50 years ago, or even a decade ago,” he added. “Because we fight for our ideals, and are willing to criticize ourselves when we fall short. Because we hold our leaders accountable, and insist on a free press and independent judiciary.”