Analysis: Biden’s use of Marines in Philadelphia speech fuels debate over military politicization


As President Joe Biden Standing outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia Thursday night, advocate ahead of the midterm elections He wasn’t the only one to say that “equality and democracy are under attack”.

For most Americans watching the primetime speech, the uniformed Marine next to him was just part of the stage for the speech.

But to those who are concerned about military personnel and those who follow the politicization of the military, putting military personnel behind the president will help explain why the White House needs to protect democracy and respect its institutions. raised the question of whether he downplayed the message about when he gave a political speech.

As a thinker about the health of the military as a military family and organization, as a journalist reporting stories about veterans and military family communities, and As a member of a military family myselfMarines immediately caught my eye.

I was truly amazed that the White House had produced what seemed to me and so many others to be a clear visual error in a primetime speech that attracted such attention. Tweeted:

“No matter what you think about this speech, the military should be apolitical. Placing uniformed Marines behind President Biden for a political speech flies in the face. It’s wrong for Republicans to do it.”

I got that tweet proportionalWhile the tsunami of online dissent included several veterans who opposed, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klein also retweeted a thread from a liberal blogger who called me propaganda. did. Commentator Keith Olbermann says I should be fired. One account tweeted a photo of my husband with his kids in military uniform and asked if he had a suit (he has one, but he doesn’t have one). I think it’s okay). Several White House reporters objected to characterizing the speech as political.

Among minorities, there were some notable voices who agreed with the content of Biden’s speech but were concerned about the Marines’ visuals. It included Alison Jaslow, the former Executive Director of the Commission. She is also a veteran who has joined her two tours in Iraq.

“I think it’s very clear that the political message was heightened through this event.” she said on CNN next morning. “I agree with the president’s message and I’m glad he’s speaking out in this way. That said, they were right in choosing his dressing for a window of events involving the Marine Corps.” There is none.”

Paul Likhov, founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans and now a liberal advocate for veterans, said on Twitter It’s just sloppy. Many people in the White House are familiar. or should be. Either way, don’t worry. That shouldn’t be done in America. ”

“Beyond the Marine Corps part, it was a very powerful and important speech,” continued Rieckhoff.

Veterans are certainly not monolithic, in that opinion.

“This ridiculous criticism of @POTUS by the media elite is ridiculous.” murmured Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Windmann testified before Congress. donald trumpfirst impeachment trial. “They are outraged at using the military as props and completely miss the content of his message…the nation is in danger! I’m trying to finish it. Get some clues and some perspective.”

The White House expected Republicans to jump on the speech, but it didn’t seem to anticipate a backlash against views of the speech from other quarters. speech.

On Friday, White House press secretary Carine Jean-Pierre dismissed the criticism and explained why the Marines were mentioned in her speech.

It states, “The president pays deep respect to these services, to their members, to these ideals, and to the unique role our independent armed forces play in defending democracy, regardless of which party is in power. “It was meant to show that we were on the sidelines of the aisle,” she said. It’s actually normal for the president to give a speech, it’s not an extraordinary sight, it’s not an extraordinary event.”

Past Democratic and Republican presidents have politicized the military and faced criticism for it, but not all speeches and events in which the military is present are equal in this debate.

There are countless examples of presidents giving speeches to or standing in front of military personnel, but in the view of many who take issue with the optics of the Philadelphia event, it violated the norms it did. Is not … For example, after the 2014 West Point War on Terror, President George W. Bush delivered a number of military policy speeches at military bases in the United States and abroad.

Those speeches were about military policy. Also, Thursday’s speech did not include any announcements related to military or new policies.

Trump is in a league of his own among modern presidents when it comes to politicizing the military, including in political speeches and events.

Marines in uniform notably appeared in a Republican National Committee video shot at the White House for Trump’s 2020 re-election.

Likhov was critical at the time“Using the Marines in this segment is just the latest example of Trump’s shamelessly and damagingly politicizing our military. They are just political props to him.”

In 2019, Trump attacked a group of then-first-year female Democrats of color, known as the “Squad,” at a South Lawn event. The White House next to the Marines. he Seemed to single out Minnesota legislator Ilhan OmarA Somali American who came to the United States as a refugee said, “If you’re not happy here, get out.”

The Republicans’ biggest criticism of uniformed Marines in the background of Biden’s speech highlights the double standards that many Republicans have toward Trump and Biden.

They warned Biden about relatively minor violations compared to what they ignored during the Trump era, so that Trump could take pictures in front of church protesters.

Millie later apologized for his part in the day and recently said that he drafted a scathing letter of resignation at the timebut he ultimately did not resign.

“I believe you have done tremendous and irreparable damage to my country.” The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017 -2021,” he wrote. .

Democrats have been highly critical of Trump and his administration’s actions.

That’s why Jaslow doesn’t think Democrats should ignore visual concerns about Biden’s speech.

“You can’t criticize previous administrations and you can’t hold yourself to a much higher standard,” she said. It really matters, and if you don’t want so-called MAGA Republicans or other Republicans to politicize the military, you shouldn’t be doing it yourself, as many administrations are doing.

Biden knows this. After all, he set a standard for himself.

Shortly after entering the White House in February 2021, he visited the Pentagon to reorient the workforce following the Trump administration.

“You guys are incredible heroes and incredible patriots,” he told them. I will never politicize your work.”


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