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Obama puts Marines on umbrella duty, irking conservatives

President Barack Obama leans out from under an umbrella to check if it's still raining, during a joint news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Thursday, May 16, 2013, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

President Barack Obama leans out from under an umbrella to check if it's still raining, during a joint news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Thursday, May 16, 2013, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Slogging through a drizzly Rose Garden news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, 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 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. All of which means that 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 that 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.

“They seem to be very nervous what constitutes unmanly behavior,” 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.

Legacy Comments10

this "story" is not a story. The fact is, Marines hold umbrellas for Presidents. Always have, always will - unless some stupid elected official manages to get a bill enacted into law which prohibits it. There are plenty of photos of Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush - heck even Sarah Palin - having umbrellas held for them. On some level this is simply folks who seem forever outraged by things that a black President says/does that they had no problem with when all the white Presidents said/did them. On another level . . . there are already plenty of actual reasons to disagree or find fault with the current Administration - why make up stupid reasons to be mad at them???

Beat a dead horse and whinning tends to come from folks who get no answers. Here's a novel idea, lets get some answers, and just maybe folks will get on with it. Why do many accept excuses for everything? How does that fix anything? Why do many believe that who they voted for is the real deal, and exempt from corruption? I think history shows us that if something looks to good to be true it most likely is not true. Kinda like that shiny car on the used car lot that the little old lady only drove to church all those years. The term All Hat and No Cattle comes to mind.

Well...we did learn one thing here. If Republicans want liberals to care about Benghazi, they are first going to have explain where it is, and that no Syrians were responsible for it. Baby steps.

OOPS...for all we know 8 months in, the Syrians may have.

I heard there will be 4 investigative committees set up to find the real reason behind why Obama made it rain in Washington at the White House while the Turkish Prime Minister was at the podium.

Good one, Jim. And let's tie this to repealing Obamacare somehow too.

Hey Gen X and Jim... Don't forget the Benghazi coverup... Conservatives won't be happy with that one until the President goes into Libya himself and kills Assad personally...

Was that meant to be funny...or...is that really what you know to be factual??? I hope the former.

To Gone, You and your group of winers won't have much to complain about until the next big thing so keep on beating a dead horse. We haven't had much fun since the teabaggers got voted out.

To Jon...Sorry, hit a nerve there. I guess when you believe Assad is in Libya, factual information tends to insult you.

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