Conservative media have attacked President Obama, claiming that his plans to attend a Memorial Day ceremony in Chicago while allowing Vice President Joe Biden to lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery are disrespectful to the military. However, previous presidents -- including Ronald Reagan -- allowed others to lay the wreath at Arlington to honor fallen troops.
Media conservatives slam Obama's Memorial Day plans as “offensive” to soldiers
Beck criticizes Obama over wreath laying, says he is “sick and tired of people believing the lie” that Obama “has respect for the soldiers.” Glenn Beck stated, “Obama is skipping out on a Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington Cemetery because he'll be in Chicago on vacation. I'm sorry, I don't ever, ever question the president's vacation. I didn't under Bush, I didn't under Clinton, I don't under Obama.” He later stated: “I have no problem with the man taking a vacation. But I am sick and tired -- sick and tired -- of people believing the lie that this administration has respect for the police or has respect for the soldiers of our country. I'm tired of it.” [Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program, 5/25/10]
Erickson: “Obama skipping the Tomb of the Unknowns this weekend for Chicago is offensive.” In a Twitter post, CNN contributor and RedState blogger Erick Erickson wrote: “Obama skipping the Tomb of the Unknowns this weekend for Chicago is offensive. Chicago can wait. The Commander-in-Chief has a job to do.”
Malkin guest blogger: “Boy, I'm starting to think that West Point speech wasn't from the heart.” On MichelleMalkin.com, guest blogger Doug Powers wrote: “President Obama went to Arlington Cemetery to lay the wreath last year, but this year Obama's handing the wreath to Plugs and heading off to the more welcoming political climes of Chicago." Powers later added: “Obama will however make it back to Washington in time to honor Paul McCartney next week. Boy, I'm starting to think that West Point speech wasn't from the heart."
JammieWearingFool: “Obama Blows Off Arlington Visit on Memorial Day,” in a “slap in the face to our veterans.” Right-wing blogger JammieWearingFool wrote that Obama's plans for Memorial Day are "[a]nother slap in the face to our veterans." He also stated: “Poor baby needs some rest, so he's going to Chicago. Will probably take in some relaxing fundraising and golf or something."
Obama to honor troops in Chicago ceremony while Biden attends Arlington ceremony
AP: Obama “scheduled to participate in a Memorial Day ceremony” in Illinois; Biden to lay wreath in Arlington National Cemetery. A May 24 Associated Press article reported that during a “long holiday weekend in Chicago,” Obama “is scheduled to participate in a Memorial Day ceremony at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Ill.” The article further reported, “Vice President Joe Biden will participate in the customary wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington.”
Previous presidents have allowed others to lay wreath at Arlington Cemetery to honor troops
1983: Reagan attended summit meeting; Defense Department official Thayer laid wreath at Arlington. Deputy Secretary of Defense W. Paul Thayer laid a wreath at Arlington Cemetery during the Memorial Day ceremony in 1983, according to a May 31, 1983, Washington Post article (accessed via Nexis). The AP reported that President Reagan attended a “summit meeting in Williamsburg, Va., with leaders of the industrialized democracies.”
1992: George H.W. Bush allowed VP Quayle to lay wreath. In 1992, Vice President Dan Quayle laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, according to a May 26, 1992, Boston Globe article (accessed via the Nexis database). The Globe reported that President George H.W. Bush attended a wreath-laying ceremony and made brief remarks at an American Legion hall in Kennebunkport, Maine, where he also played a round of golf.
Veterans Day 2007: Cheney attends ceremony to pay tribute at Arlington as Bush remained in Texas. On November 11, 2007, the AP reported that “President Bush honored U.S. troops past and present at a tearful ceremony Sunday for four Texans who died there.” The AP further reported that “Vice President Dick Cheney went to Arlington to pay tribute to Iraq veterans.”