It’s those hands again. Those hands that were the butt of campaign jibes, those hands that hold the tiller of the Western world. The hands of Donald Trump.
This time those hands stand accused of committing a sin Republicans have roasted past Democrat leaders for, especially the last two incumbents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, who were crucified for “crotch-clutching”, or resting their hands together if front of them, rather than crossing the right hand over the heart, in a military manner, when saluting the flag or pledging allegiance. Neither Clinton nor Obama served in the military, but soon learned it was expected of them. Trump hasn’t served either, but that was because of another appendage: his feet, which earned him multiple referrals from serving in Vietnam.
But back to hands, which are the problem here, as many forums attest. Trump appeared alongside the freakiest White House Easter bunny you ever saw at the traditional children-centred Easter Egg Roll. The POTUS and his furry friend were joined by First Lady Melania and First Youngest Son Barron.
Anyhoo, come the national anthem and son and wife snapped into the requisite salute while Donald just stood there grinning away enjoying his moment, the sunshine, that fine approach he hit at the 11th yesterday, whatever. Who knows what goes on up there?
Melania snapped The President out of his reverie with a discreet little nudge to his sleeping right hand, and The Hand responded, the great showman moving it smoothly into place all cool like nothing had happened, although it twitched after assuming the position.
Bill Clinton was the first recent president to come under fire from the Republican Right for his visible lack of patriotism as his critics called it, and when Barack Obama did the same the attacks were merciless and unrelenting, and fitted perfectly with the fake birther/Muslim narrative whipped up by those who questioned his eligibility or fitness for office.
Both men indicated at the time that as they had never worn uniform they were unsure if the gesture would always be seen as appropriate, an argument that didn’t wash with their critics.
There is history here, too. The correct etiquette when saluting the flag or making the pledge to uphold the US constitution has changed with time; a big change came in 1942 when the done thing, the so-called “Bellamy Salute”, looked odd, to say the least.
For Donald Trump’s supporters however his patriotism is beyond question and he is likely to get a free pass despite the row some are trying to brew up. That has not prevented the slew of memes, social media posts and comic skits based on the president’s latest faux pas and the event itself. One recurrent theme has been the observation the Commander-in-Chief needed to be reminded of the right thing to do…by an immigrant.