Have you heard the one about Obama and the umbrella?
Conservatives who yearn to eject the president from office have been trying to get sufficient traction from the current scandal trifecta, but it’s a heavy lift. Ben Domenech, a GOP-friendly columnist, explains why: “The scandals we are talking about…are not tied to the individual of Barack Obama. While there’s still more information to be gathered and more investigations to be done, all indications are that these decisions – on the AP, on the IRS, on Benghazi – don’t proceed from him. The talk of impeachment is absurd.”
Absurd?! Aw, come on, what about the fourth scandal, which shall henceforth be known as Umbrella-gate?
Last Thursday the president hosted the prime minister of Turkey in the Rose Garden, flanked by a few Marines, just as rain began to fall. Obama, trying to be a good host, paused in his remarks and sought some protection from the elements: “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.” Two Marines quickly brandished umbrellas, sheltering the two leaders. Obama continued: “There we go. That’s good.”
Leave it to the ever-vigilant Daily Caller website to spot the scandal, as it did within minutes: “The commander in chief of the American armed forces today forced a violation of Marine Corps regulations, so he wouldn’t get wet. (According to) the Marine Corps Uniform Regulations chapter 3, a male Marine is not allowed to carry an umbrella while in uniform….Male Marines are informed never to carry an umbrella from the earliest phases of training. Not even the president of the United States can request a Marine to carry an umbrella without the express consent of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, according to the Marine Corps Manual.”
Daily Caller scoops typically inspire Pavlovian responses on the rabid right; the umbrella scandal was no different. Move America Forward PAC emailed the world to assail this un-American slur on our fighting men and women. Its missive said, “Rain: ‘Hold My Umbrella.’ Benghazi: ‘Stand Down.'” (Also via email, the PAC sought to raise money off Umbrella-gate.) Elsewhere, the reliable Lou Dobbs tweeted that Obama’s umbrella move was “disrespectful, inconsiderate, classless.” On Facebook, Sarah Palin crayoned, “Scandalous hat trick, Mr. President.” And so on.
There it was, a scandal that could be tied “to the individual of Barack Obama” (to use Domenech’s criterion)! There he was, captured on video, personally giving the scandalous order, violating the rules and regulations of our fighting heroes…
Oh, wait: A few complicating little details were left out of the Daily Caller story.
Turns out, Title 10 Section 5063 of the U.S. Code states that members of the Marine Corps shall “perform such other duties as the president may direct.” Such duties “as the president may direct” are permitted as long as they do not “detract from or interfere with the operations for which the Marine Corps is primarily organized.”
Well. That loophole is large enough to drive a Hummer through.
Also, I looked at the Marine Corps Uniform Regulations, and, way down in Section 1004.4.c, paragraph 4, I found this little tidbit: “Articles that are not authorized for wear as a part of a regulation uniform will not be worn exposed with the uniform unless authorized by the Commandant or higher authority.” Ah yes, a “higher authority.” Last time I checked the U.S. Constitution – I’m being a strict constructionist here – Article II Section 2 states that “the president shall be the commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States” – and, as we know, the Marine Corps is under the Navy. Which certifies the president as a “higher authority.”
None of that info made it into the Daily Caller story. It must have been just an oversight.
There’s a far more substantive piece that begs to be written about the perils of conservative overreach – which I can’t do today, due to travel logistics – so for now, Umbrella-gate will have to suffice as metaphor.
But, hey, maybe there’s still hope for this scandal. Take a very close look at the Marine’s grip on the umbrella. Now take a very close look at this pic of Michelle and Barack. Study and compare. Isn’t it obvious? The commander in chief ordered the Marine to give the umbrella a terrorist fist bump.
That should be worth a few hearings.
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