Veterans advocates are pushing back against the injection of partisan politics into Memorial Day events as occurred with U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch and a Utah mayor during an event attended by about 300 people Monday in Woods Cross. "It is not appropriate to use Memorial Day events to talk politics," Veterans of Foreign Wars spokesman Joe Davis said Tuesday. Terry Schow, former longtime director of the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs and fierce advocate for veterans, expressed a similar view.
Though U.S. officials usually honor Memorial Day by paying solemn tribute to Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of their country, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) went in a very different direction this week, delivering partisan remarks to several hundred people in Utah.
This may be a deep-red state, and Hatch may be a celebrated figure in Utah politics, but his politicization of Memorial Day was not well received.
As Caitlin MacNeal noted, a couple of days after his speech, a local report said the Republican senator "is sorry if his remarks offended anyone."
"I didn't think I was political." Hatch said.
Really? That's the defense?
By all accounts, Hatch spoke, without notes, for about 18 minutes, and the bulk of his speech was perfectly appropriate for a Memorial Day event.
But according to the Salt Lake Tribune, the longtime senator also spent some time promising to push a constitutional amendment if he disagrees with the Supreme Court's ruling in the Hobby Lobby case, vowing that "everybody" will support his new constitutional language, "except the nuts."
Hatch also reportedly took the opportunity in his remarks to "assail the nation's courts" and "urge voters to cast their ballots for Republicans in 2014 and 2016."
The senator added, "I shouldn't talk like that, but I've reached an age that I can say whatever I want."
His office didn't deny that Hatch did, in fact, make these remarks, but an aide to the senator argued that the quotes were "cherry-picked." I hate to break it to the senator's staff, but there is no appropriate context in which a politician makes these comments during a Memorial Day address.
And if Hatch didn't think his partisan shots were "political," perhaps he's spent a few too many years inside the Beltway.