It is customary on Memorial Day to pay our respects to the soldiers who have died for our country.
But yesterday two high officials celebrated instead . . . President Obama.
Their remarks were cringe-inducing. Don't they know that Memorial Day, as the name implies, is to honor those who have sacrificed their lives pro patria?
One of the Memorial Day suck-ups was Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who chose Arlington Cemetery as the site for for his smarmy remarks:
At today’s Arlington National Cemetery Memorial Day observance, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said “troops of such caliber demand great leaders, and there’s no doubt they have one in our commander in chief.”
“I see that every day,” continued Carter, who assumed his post in February. “He knows well the challenges we must face, the obligations we must meet, and the opportunities we must seize in order to keep our nation safe and to make a better world for our children. And I see that he cares deeply about the safety, welfare, and dignity of our men and women in uniform and their families.”
“For all that, and so much more, I am tremendously proud to serve as his secretary of Defense,” he added.
Well, be proud. But Memorial Day is a solemn time to celebrate America's war dead. In fairness, Carter did mention–briefly–our military dead, singling out those who died to capture Fallujah, which recently fell to ISIS. It is near Ramadi, which ISIS took earlier this month.
In Carter’s defense (not really–there is no defense), he probably knows that The Boss has a giant ego and that the self-protective Cabinet member will take note and act accordingly. Still, it was disappointing to see the Secretary of Defense acting as a courtier on Memorial Day.
The second official to make Memorial Day all about President Obama was—you guessed it—President Obama.
Here is what he said yesterday in a radio address (he said almost the same thing at Arlington):
Hi, everybody. This weekend is Memorial Day-a time to pay tribute to all our men and women in uniform who've ever given their lives so that we can live in freedom and security. This year, the holiday is especially meaningful. It's the first Memorial Day since our war ended in Afghanistan.
Memorial Day 2015–you see–was really about President Obama, who is wont to boast about having ended the war in Afghanistan (actually brave men and women in uniform fought and won and ended it only to have the president take actions that jeopardize hard-won achievements–but that's another story). Bill Kristol was appropriately turned off by Obama's Memorial Day remarks:
First of all, "Hi, everybody?" Really? For a Memorial Day tribute?
More important, think about the President's claim that "This year, the holiday is especially meaningful." He's wrong. Memorial Day is equally meaningful whether we're conducting combat operations in Afghanistan or not. Those who have died fighting for our country deserve the same degree of remembrance and tribute regardless of particular presidential decisions. But this is Obama's solipsism on display. He "ended" our war in Afghanistan, so we, and I suppose families of loved ones as well, are supposed to find this year's Memorial Day "especially meaningful." Ugh.
President Obama was elected in 2008 on a kind of euphoria that was not previously native to the flinty American spirit. Many voters rallied to him in a cult-like fashion. The cult hasn’t died. It was inappropriately exhibited yesterday.