Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 05/19/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
WASHINGTON -- Slogging through a drizzly Rose Garden news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, U.S. President Obama took a break to ask for some rain protection.
"I am going to go ahead and ask folks, why don't we get a couple of marines -- they're going to look good next to us -- just because I've got a change of suits but I don't know about our prime minister," he said as two marines appeared at the podiums with umbrellas. "There we go. That's good." He gestured to the soggy press corps, adding, "You guys I'm sorry about."
It was a lighthearted moment in the midst of a grim few days for the White House. But in a week of Benghazi emails, Justice Department subpoenas and Internal Revenue Service targeting, some of the administration's critics saw another example of overreach.
Obama breaches marine umbrella protocol, read the headline on one conservative blog.
Per U.S. Marine Corps uniform regulations, the men are not allowed to carry or use umbrellas while in uniform. Female marines can carry "an all-black, plain standard or collapsible umbrella at their option during inclement weather," and only with service and dress uniforms.
'Mr. President, when it rains it pours, but most Americans hold their own umbrellas'
-- Sarah Palin message on Facebook
All of which means when marines stand sentry outside the White House, they often get wet.
"Marines are always out getting rained on. That's sort of what we do," said Capt. Eric Flanagan, a marines spokesman. A request from the president to a marine who serves at the White House, however, would be an "extenuating circumstance," he said.
Flanagan also pointed to Title 10 of the U.S. Code, which states members of the marine corps shall "perform such other duties as the president may direct."
In this case, Obama had clearly directed the marines to be ready with umbrellas if necessary.
The same umbrella rules hold true for the army; in the navy and air force, all service members can carry an umbrella when not in field uniform.
Neither Flanagan nor a U.S. Army spokesman could explain the reasoning behind the gender divide. An attempt to change the policy in the 1990s failed, with some suggesting there was something effeminate about umbrellas.
"They seem to be very nervous what constitutes unmanly behaviour," said Cynthia Enloe, a professor at Clark University who researched military uniform codes in the book Maneuvers: The International Politics of Militarizing Women's Lives.
Seeing a trained marine holding the president's umbrella just rubs some observers the wrong way.
"Obama expects our troops to hold damn umbrellas rather than go inside: It's disrespectful, inconsiderate, classless," tweeted Lou Dobbs.
"Mr. President, when it rains it pours, but most Americans hold their own umbrellas," former Alaska governor Sarah Palin added on Facebook.
The conservative Move America Forward PAC likened the umbrella-holding to what conservatives view as Obama's weak response to September's attack in Benghazi, Libya. A fundraising email from the group read, "Rain: 'Hold My Umbrella.' Benghazi: 'Stand Down.' "
Perhaps Obama could have turned to a member of the Secret Service instead. Are they allowed to carry umbrellas?
"This falls under our methods and means information, which we don't discuss," Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan said.
-- Washington Post-Bloomberg
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 19, 2013 A6
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Premiers, aboriginal leaders change tack
Free sneak peek advance tours of Human Rights Museum
Bombers hope to break ten-year Labour Day tradition
Nepinak calls for memorial to Hall
Gord Steeves wants to give Winnipeg's police drones
Woman hurt in collision dies; man to be charged
William Greaves, TV host and filmmaker, dead at 87
'Cops' crew member killed in Omaha police shooting
John Lennon's killer sorry for being 'an idiot'
The NDP will launch a national inquiry into native women murders if elected
Bombers name four to hall of fame
Tim Hortons the conquering hero this time
Peace Corps program VP to stop by News Café
Newborn found in trash on ventilator; mom arrested
Police intercept mailed gun and ammo
Downtown gas leak closes streets, forces evacuation
Israeli premier, Hamas declare victory in Gaza war
B.C. man says others responsible for serial murders
Shooting by 9-year-old US girl stirs gun debate
Paula Havixbeck unveils plan to deal with frozen pipes
Man dies in vehicle rollover
Mayoral wannabes spew clichés at forum
Museum rejects St. Germain
Libya's UN envoy warns of 'full-blown civil war'
Camper missing for three days found on remote road
U of W researchers involved in projects getting $5 million in funding
Canadians pay $500M+ a year for paper bills: report
Canada Post reports profit in second quarter
US official warns Ebola outbreak will get worse
Missouri governor names new public safety director
NHL says 'nothing new' on expansion
Inquiry on premiers' agenda
Fans roar for Katy Perry
Still some summer heat left
Judicial review useless for family
Fallon to lead honours as Leno wins top humour prize
Spanish chain pulls kids' shirt after outcry
Spy thriller leaves us unshaken, unstirred
Landmarks to light up for cancer telethon