A backlash is brewing after a video emerged showing President Barack Obama holding a coffee cup while saluting Marines. The White House Instagram account posted footage of Obama offering the informal salute as he climbed down from Marine One after landing in New York for the United Nations General Assembly. Criticism soon spilled over on Twitter.
White House military aides saw a lot of [President Reagan], which perhaps bred a certain amount of familiarity, which could be why one aide, John Kline, wondered aloud if maybe Ronald Reagan was doing something out of line. Kline noticed that his boss was saluting members of the armed forces. Soldiers were supposed to salute their president; the president was not supposed to salute the soldiers. No modern president, not even General Eisenhower, has saluted military personnel. It might even be, well, sort of improper. Kline suggested he talk to the commandant of the United States Marine Corps and get his advice, and the commandant's advice ran something like this: You're the goddamn president. You can salute whoever you goddamn well please. So Ronald Reagan continued saluting his soldiers, and he encouraged his own vice president and successor, George H.W. Bush, to do the same. And every president since has followed.