Obama salutes Marines with coffee cup, outrage ensues

President Barack Obama salutes Marines with a coffee cup in his hand.

President Barack Obama salutes a Marine with a coffee cup in his hand.

On his way to participate in a United Nations talk on Climate Change, and coming from his national address on airstrikes in Syria, President Barack Obama stepped off Marine One and proceeded to salute Marines with a coffee cup in his hand.

White House aides later posted that video to Instagram, and that’s when things went downhill. The White House press department didn’t immediately respond to queries about the salute.

ABC published a story dubbing it the “Latte Salute.” Washington Times ran a headline that incorporated the words “Semper Latte.” Finally, a Daily Caller story cited the manual for Marine officer candidates stating the salute is “the most important of all military courtesies.”

Of course the comment sections in each of these posts featured more than a few disgruntled folks. Twitter also hosted a horde of trolls.

Obama isn’t the only president who’s had a salute snafu (or two). Then-President George W. Bush was somewhat infamously captured awkwardly saluting while holding his dog.

The presidential salute, while not required, has become somewhat of a protocol since the Reagan years.

Carey Winfrey, the retired editor of Smithsonian Magazine and a former Marine, wrote an outstanding article for the New York Times about the presidential salute. In it, he asserts, “when it comes to salutes (and one or two other matters), presidents deserved to be cut some slack.”

NOW CHECK OUT: Did the 15th MEU and 13th MEU engage in a bit of a Twitter war? >


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  1. Obama is not in the military though you call him the commander and chief. Just having the title I believe you’re the senior officer and all of the lower status must salute but he doesn’t have to. Please find more ways to spend your time. Obama has been in office 6yrs and have 2 more to go, you’d think we have better to talk about

  2. This is absolutely disgusting. After 6 years as CIC, Obama should be ashamed of himself. As a 100% disabled ex Army officer from Viet Nam, I can only imagine what those two Marines so proudly salluting him must have thought. I think he should call them both & apologize.

  3. I really don’t see why any slack should be given since he is the commander in chief. Leadership begins at the top and leaders should lead by example and he, in my humble opinion has done a very poor job of setting a good example on several fronts, this is just another. We are all human subject to mistakes and failures but a good hand salute is a hard thing to mess up. Just my experience of nearly 26 years.

  4. John Edward Pizzini on

    For Christ sake! Nobody would give a fuck about this if he was white. John Mellancamp is right. President’s should get 4 terms and Barack Obama should be the first!

  5. President Woodrow Wilson established the precedent that Presidents don’t have to acknowledge salutes at all so President Obama is free to do whatever he wants when someone salutes him although those who pilot aircraft he rides in might want to make sure there is always a convenient place for the President to stow hot cups of coffee whenever he lands so nobody gets burned.

  6. I disagree with Carey Winfrey, our Commander in Chief should uphold all customs and courtesies with our nations military. Standards start from the top. MAYBE if he was a veteran he would know this and shame on Carey Winfrey (a former marine) on saying this is ok. It’s not. Traditions are traditions for a reason, try to uphold them when you are the President of the United States. Maybe if he knew a little bit about sacrifice he would pay his respects by giving a proper salute. Uphold the standard of being the President of the United States of America. Respectfully, A fellow Veteran

  7. Sgt Haines, Ret. on

    Why bother with a F’d up salute at all? I would strongly suggest to Not salute anybody at all and just carry on. If the crap in their hands are more important, just don’t bother!

  8. Glen Christiansen on

    As a Veteran and Even äs a citizen, the failure to Shift the Cup to his other Hand Shows a complete disrespect for the two Marines flanking Him. A Truly abysmal excuse for a Chief Executive. This man has Set a New all Time Löw. Unbelieveable!!!!!! This man Would Never have made it. out of boot/Basic Training. He Would Never have expended the required effort. Please excuse the Typing…Keyboard is Stück in German Mode.

  9. Out of respect for their service and sacrifice is it too much to ask of the President? Be respectful you demand it from others.

  10. I don’t agree with the comments made by Carey Winfrey ” when it comes to salutes (and one or two other matters), presidents deserved to be cut some slack.”

    He is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. If he is goin to render a slaute to military personnel, he should do it right or not at all. This degrades the customs and coutesies of the US Armed Forces

  11. Obama’s “Latte Salute” simply underscores his ongoing and ingrained contempt for the military and in particular for the Marines. That isn’t going to change regardless of his future behavior. He hates America as much as he does a Marine in full-dress uniform.

  12. Our Chief and Commander should show R*E*S*P*E*C*T to our men and women in uniform especially when saluting them. He should stand up straight, look them in the eye and snap that salute off his forehead with pride and dignity! If he fails to show respect for our men and women in uniform, is it really that far off the mark that others will follow suit?

  13. What do we expect out of a president that never served in the military? His lack in military courtesy should come as no surprise and frankly I do not hold him accountable for such a thing. It only speaks to the type of person we have serving as Commander in Chief of military service. Nothing to see here people, move along.

  14. Wrong about President Bush.

    His salute hand was empty. He had obviously just lowered his upper body to better control the dog in his left arm and against his chest.

    Obama is saluting with a styro cup in his salute hand and nothing at all in his left hand, and he’s just traipsing down the steps, meaning he had more than enough time to transfer the cup.

    Our very own Coffee-Cup-In-Chief. I’m so proud

  15. Carlton Fransen on

    Once again, ?President Obama shows how out of touch with his surroundings…in this case, the Marines who protect him, by giving them a latte salute. How disrespectful to the military code of behavior! Our leader should lead by example, and this recent scoffing at a proper soldering tradition is unacceptable.

  16. Civilians that have never served in the military should not be receiving or returning salutes. The President’s CinC status is irrelevant to the act. The Marines should be considered to be saluting our Nation, what it and what the Office of the President stand for, not the person in the office. The only Presidents that should even attempt to return a salute are those that served in the military.

  17. this is an awful,thing.
    Does the
    President know how SPECIAL these Marines are? These men to be at the top of their game to be there. Top of the TOP!!! They are due YOUR respect mr. Obama, sir try and remember that.

  18. Michael Whitten on

    Give me a break!!! I doubt if any real Marine got upset over this. Just someone on one side of the political spectrum wanting to throw mud. Same when Bush did it. To those with friends and family in the military what is important is whether the decisions to put troops in harm’s way are made intelligently and for the right reasons.

  19. Holding a live dog is more understandable than a cup of coffee. Even active duty are excused if they can’t salute for some reason (they are expected to move their coffee cup to the other hand though).

  20. This is extremely disrespectful not only to the two Marines who I can assure you worked tirelessly to get there selves and uniforms ready for this presidential post. The salute in the military is not only a requirement amongst enlisted Marines and Officers but is a sign of courtesy to senior officers from the enlisted Marine. If an enlisted Marine failed to salute an officer that would be considered disrespect and the enlisted Marine would be punished with non judicial punishment which in civilian life would be a misdemeanor.

    President Obama disrespected these two Marines and being the politically correct president he claims to be then he should apologize to these two Marines along with the United States Marine Corps as a whole.

  21. I love that the president gets to experience this military courtesy, but all he had to do to show some respect was put that dam cup in his other hand.

  22. I flew with J.F.K. and L.B.J. and I don’t recall either returning a salute, of course being a Marine we were accustomed to not having it returned, you see in the Naval service uncovered officers or enlisted are not required to salute.

  23. Corrected….. was so upset i found i could not type…..

    Although it is not required for him to salute, I find it personally classless that he would reduce a gesture of honor and respect to this. Yes he bay not have been the first to mess that up, however it does not mean that it is excusable. Have some respect for those that protect and sacrifice for this country!

  24. You know he does have 2 hands like everyone else, he could have put the cup in his other hand even at the last monment and he still would have shown respect.

  25. I was in the Navy, but if I was in the Marines, I wouldn’t accept the job of waiting for the President to get off the plane so I could salute him. That’s not a job for a Marine. It should be done by a member of the House or the Senate. Salute with a Coffee Cup…….

    salute back with the 3rd finger.

  26. President obama you are commander in chief of the military,

    show some respect for and to the men that serve, if you aren’t

    going to render the salute properly then don’t do it at all, give

    him a break no.

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