Tag Archives: commander in chief

To salute or not to salute?

I’ve wondered about previous presidents and whether they would adhere to a particular protocol, so I’ll ask it once again about the next president: Will the new commander in chief return military salutes given by the men and women in uniform who are required to salute him?

I’ll presume that Donald J. Trump knows how to snap a salute. He attended a military high school, which he once said was virtually the same as serving in the military. I’m betting young Donald’s instructors taught him how to salute.

Believe me when I tell you this: It’s something one never forgets how to do. It’s kind of like riding a bicycle … you know?

Of all the presidents in my lifetime — I was born during the Truman administration — I can recall only four commanders in chief who would return the salute: Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Of those men, only two — Presidents Reagan and Bush — had actual military experience; Reagan, I regret to say, would snap what a friend of mine (a retired Army major) would call a “Hollywood salute.”

All the rest of the presidents during my lifetime, didn’t return the salute, not even President Eisenhower, the former general of the Army and supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe during World War II. Nor did President Kennedy, a Navy officer who saw intense combat in the Pacific Theater. Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter and Bush 41 all served on active duty. They didn’t salute, either.

And so the question will persist as we await a new commander in chief. There’s no rule that requires a president to return the military salute.

It is my own personal belief that the commander chief, despite his civilian status, should return the salute as a matter of courtesy to those who are fulfilling their obligation as military personnel.

Still, I’ll await the next president to see how he treats the servicemen and women who serve under his command.

Putin gets high praise — again! — from Trump


I’m  trying to imagine the outcry — indeed, the outrage! — we would hear if, say, a young U.S. senator from Illinois running for president in 2008 had denigrated the quality of leadership provided by an American president while praising a ham-handed dictator’s leadership style.

What would be the Republican reaction if Barack Obama had done that? What might the GOP establishment think of a candidate for the U.S. presidency holding up someone such as Russian strongman Vladimir Putin?

The current GOP nominee, Donald J. Trump, did as much Wednesday night while taking part in that commander in chief forum sponsored by NBC News.


Trump told NBC’s Matt Lauer that Putin is a better leader than President Obama.

I am trying to fathom that context.

He talked about the “great control” Putin has over his country. Really?

He said Putin enjoys an 82 percent approval rating in Russia. Seriously?

Trump said he takes Putin’s lavish praise of the real estate mogul as “a compliment, OK?” Give me a break.

Aren’t the Russians supposed to be a major world adversary, if not an outright enemy? And this clown — Trump, I mean — thinks Putin’s leadership style is worthy of praise?

I’m trying to catch my breath.

Commander in chief test? Trump’s already failed it


Politico asks in a story whether Donald J. Trump will flunk the commander in chief test.

Republican Party brass is terrified, Politico reports, of Trump getting nominated and then having to answer difficult questions regarding national security.

Trump already has failed that test, in my oh-so-humble view.

In spades.

Time and again on the campaign trail, Trump has exhibited a shocking ignorance of such things as the “nuclear triad,” which is the nation’s three-pronged nuclear weapons system involving land-based missiles, submarine-based missiles and bombs dropped from aircraft.

He cannot articulate with anything approaching precision how he intends to solve the myriad defense-related issues. His answer to illegal immigration is to “build a wall” and “make Mexico pay for it.”

He praises leaders such as Russian leader Vladimir Putin and — get this — North Korean despot/maniac Kim Jong Un for their “leadership” skills.

But I keep coming back to the wackiness of this campaign.

It has produced surprise upon surprise all along the way.

Trump has been criticized by leading conservatives for not understanding the details of foreign and military policy. Never mind what progressives are saying about him; it goes without saying that they would be highly critical of the real estate mogul/reality TV personality.

Before you get all twisted up, I’m also well aware of those who believe the current president has failed the commander in chief test — while he’s been on the job. I simply do not share that criticism.

I totally get that one man’s buffoon is another man’s statesman.

You know where Trump fits in that equation as far as I’m concerned.

‘A test for commander in chief’?


We’re hearing some chatter about how the Paris terrorist attacks may have transformed the 2016 Republican Party presidential primary campaign.

It might be now a “test for commander in chief,” says Politico’s Shane Goldmacher.

Good. We need something to bring us back to what’s really at stake.

To this point in the GOP campaign, it’s been a battle of sound bites, insults (and the occasional name-calling) and wonderment over how Donald Trump has stayed at or near the top of a slowly shrinking Republican Party field.

The issue now may be turning toward deciding which of these individuals is best suited to handling the serious threat that the Islamic State potentially poses against the United States.

As Politico reported: “It’s one thing to have a protest vote,” New York Republican Rep. Pete King, a member of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee and chairman of the subcommittee on counterterrorism and intelligence, told POLITICO. “If anything good can come of this tragedy, I would hope it would steer the debate toward who can handle Al Qaeda and ISIS and away from sound bites.”

Trump has won the sound bite battle to this point.

But if ISIS is the threat that many observers now say it is — in the wake of the highly coordinated attacks in Paris — then we need to separate the experts from the entertainers.

I hope that with quite a few serious-minded individuals still seeking the GOP nomination that primary voters are going to assess the value of actual experience in the political arena against individuals who — time and again — demonstrate their inability to navigate across a complicated global landscape.

As U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida — one of the serious individuals running for the GOP nomination — said this morning, the first priority for a president is to keep Americans safe from our enemies.

Show time is over.

I hope …


Attacks work against Trump, Ms. Coulter

Conservative author Ann Coulter addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington on Saturday Feb. 20,2010. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Ann Coulter’s political expertise is, shall we say, quite suspect.

The latest exhibition of her ignorance surfaced this weekend when she tweeted that the Paris terror attacks have guaranteed Donald Trump’s election as the 45th president of the United States.

Someone, pass the smelling salts to the fiery conservative commentator and make her take a whiff.

In the hours since the attacks — in the midst of this political season — one of the key questions has become: How does this hideous event affect the presidential contest?

Well, the Pundit Class in Washington and around the country has been virtually unanimous in this regard: The attacks expose Trump’s utter lack of experience dealing with international terrorism.

His empire-building experience won’t help him. Trump’s self-proclaimed ability to “negotiate” deals will be of zero value; we don’t negotiate with monstrous killers such as the Islamic State.

Yet, there was Ann Coulter — the darling of the far-right talk radio listening audience, blathering on her Twitter account that Trump’s election is a sure thing.

We need someone with actual experience in government and/or diplomacy — and someone who gathers his or her military knowledge from sources other than Sunday morning new talk shows — to take the reins as commander in chief.

My own advice to Ann Coulter? Shut the bleep up!



What makes a good commander in chief?

Scott Walker says that being an Eagle Scout prepared him to be commander in chief of the greatest military force in the history of the world.

So, there you have it. Join the Scouts, earn enough merit badges and you, too, can serve in the Oval Office.

The Republican Wisconsin governor was answering the question on a conservative radio talk show.


I won’t dismiss Walker’s Eagle Scout accomplishment as being irrelevant as Walker prepares to enter the 2016 GOP presidential primary donnybrook.

In truth, I don’t know what prepares someone to be commander in chief. The qualifications of the 44 men who’ve served as president are a mixed bag, to say the least.

A couple of our greatest presidents — Republican Abraham Lincoln and Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt — didn’t serve in the military. Yet they saw the country through two horrific wars. Virtually all Lincoln’s presidency was eaten up by the Civil War and yet he held the Union together. FDR mobilized the nation after the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor and led the nation beautifully as it carried the fight to enemies in the Pacific and across the Atlantic in Africa and Europe.

Republican Dwight Eisenhower ascended to the rank of general of the Army, but didn’t have to mobilize the nation during his two terms as president. Republican Ulysses S. Grant became an Army general, but his presidency was marred by scandal.

Our three most recent presidents among them have very little combined military experience. Democrat Bill Clinton didn’t serve in the military and in fact avoided the draft back in the 1960s; Republican George W. Bush served for a time in the Texas Air National Guard, flying fighter jets stateside; Democrat Barack Obama also has no military experience.

Does prior military service equate to preparation for being commander in chief? I don’t know.

And does such service mean more than achieving an Eagle Scout ranking? I don’t know that, either.

It seems to boil down to judgment and whether a president has the right judgment — and perhaps the temperament — to lead the world’s premier fighting force.

Maybe a stint in Scouting helps develop those traits. Then again, maybe it doesn’t if the individual doesn’t already possess the innate skill and judgment required to do the most difficult job on Earth.



Now it's Congress's turn to step up in fight

My fellow Americans, let us now declare that a moment of truth has just landed on Capitol Hill’s doorstep.

Do members of Congress, most of whom belong to the Republican Party, stand ready to authorize the commander in chief’s use of military force against the Islamic State? Are they now going to sign on in this fight, rather than carp at the president’s strategy, or criticize him for allegedly not having a clear cut mission in this ongoing battle?


Barack Obama today sent a request to Congress for a three-year authorization to keep taking the fight to ISIL. It contains language that prohibits the long term use of U.S. ground forces — except for special operations forces that could be used to conduct specific, surgical strikes against the enemy.

The plan isn’t perfect, but the president says he has heard the calls for congressional approval of however the commander in chief chooses to fight this battle.

So, will Congress step up and sign on? I surely hope so.

President Obama has declared that ISIL is on the defensive. He also said the fight will be difficult, but that the coalition of 60 or so nations — several of which are in the Middle East — are winning the fight. ISIL has been degraded, Obama said, and the coalition of nations is continuing to pound ISIL targets in a relentless air power campaign. Fighters have been killed, as have their commanders. Command and control centers have been disrupted. Morale among ISIL fighters reportedly has deteriorated.

I happen to endorse the president’s reluctance to put U.S. ground troops into yet another Middle East war. The air campaign has been savage and it well could be enough to break up the ISIL fighting force that has created so much havoc, heartache and hysteria in the region it has terrorized.

So, is Congress now going to give the commander in chief the authority he is requesting? Will the legislative branch join this fight?

If the answer is yes, then it must stand with the head of state as he seeks to destroy this dastardly enemy.