In my gleaning of news articles, I happened across this little gem yesterday. The title, "Troops yet to give Obama full salute" pretty much says it all.
It should come as no surprise as to why this is.
Part of this unpopularity comes from the simple fact that Obama spent much of his short career as a U.S. Senator, telling the American people that the military could not win the war in Iraq. The other part of this equation comes from the fact that he is now taking responsibility for the victory.
In politics, people do have short memories. But in this case, it's not THAT short.
I remember the first year when boots were on the ground in the land that was once known as Babylon. I remember waking up on Thanksgiving morning of that year, to President George Bush surprising troops having their holiday meal in a land far away from home. They had no clue he was there, they were genuinely surprised, and they proved it by letting out a cheer that caused Nebuchadnezzar to roll over in his grave.
In fact almost anytime George Bush was introduced to military personnel during his tenure, there was a very enthusiastic response. In contrast, people have described responses to Obama as respectful, but quite tepid.
We can debate a lot about a lot of Bush's policies on a good many things and when we conclude our discussions, we can suffice it to say that he was not in any way perfect. I can think of some critical issues on which his action/inaction missed the mark. But even today, he is well-loved by soldiers, sailors, and marines alike.
And if there is any doubt about this, one only needs to watch this video:
The look on these soldiers' faces says much about their deep respect for this man. Not many former Presidents would have taken the time to greet some returning warriors, from a mission that Mr. Obama said would fail. To my knowledge, Bill Clinton has not done it. If he has, I missed it.
But let's get back to the current CIC.
Obama fails the nation on so many fronts and in so many areas, it's not the least bit surprising to me that the military personnel are not very fond of him. Announcing a specific date for beginning the withdrawal from Afghanistan hasn't helped this disconnect much, either.
Now we know it and the world knows it, the Taliban can set a goal of holding on until July 2011. And they can effectively stage attacks as we are withdrawing, so they can use them for propaganda purposes later in their future objectives. Ignorant hate-mongering Islamists will not have the sense to understand the truth behind it, so it will become a great recruiting tool.
Knowing what we know about how Obama has handled the military's affairs in these two wars, I cannot expect that Obama's salute will ever be a full one. In fact, I cannot imagine it ever evolving beyond one finger.