Obama Not the Only Recent President to Miss Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Ceremony

The great thing about having Facebook friends who watch Glenn Beck is that you don’t have to. It’s like having Jon Stewart in your news feed, only not nearly as funny.

Three presidents in recent history missed the Arlington ceremony: Reagan, Bush, and Bush.

That’s how I know that the big tea bagging deal at the moment is the idea that Pres. Obama is betraying the troops by spending Memorial Day weekend in Chicago, and therefore will miss laying a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. Instead, Vice Pres. Biden will perform the ritual while Obama and the First Lady participate in a service at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Ill.

One immediately wonders if any past president has committed a similar omission without being called a commie, and David Corn, writing for Politics Daily did the research. Turns out three presidents in recent history missed the Arlington ceremony: Reagan, Bush, and Bush.

In 1983, President Reagan was at a summit meeting, and the deputy secretary of defense — not even the veep! — placed the wreath. Nine years later, President George H.W. Bush passed off the wreath to Vice President Dan Quayle (who had used family connections to get a slot in the National Guard during the days of the Vietnam War draft). And in 2007, Vice President Dick Cheney took on the wreath mission, while President George W. Bush was in Texas, perhaps clearing brush.

Corn also notes that anyone who doubts that Obama gets the sacrifice being made by our armed forces on our behalf should remember something else he did.

Last fall, he made a midnight visit to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to witness the return of dead GIs — which his predecessor never did. Two weeks later, he was in Arlington cemetery on Veterans Day, placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and greeting mourners who had come to this garden of stones and death on that cold and wet day. One of those was James Gordon Meek, a reporter for The New York Daily News, who happened to be at the cemetery visiting friends and relatives buried there. Afterward, Meek wrote a wonderfully poignant column:

“What I got was an unexpected look into the eyes of a man who intertwined his roles as commander in chief and consoler in chief on a solemn day filled with remembrance and respect for sacrifices made — and sacrifices yet to be made…

His presence in Section 60 convinced me that he now carries the heavy burden of command.”

Facts don’t matter to the nut cases on the right, of course. So if any of your Facebook friends are residents of Glennbeckistan, you might want to use the “Hide” feature over Memorial Day weekend. That, or get ready for lots of red-faced huffing and puffing.


14 thoughts on “Obama Not the Only Recent President to Miss Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Ceremony”

  1. I actually had a poster on another site tell me regarding the Sestak “job offer” by this administration, that he expects “more” transparency from our leaders, to which I asked him where he was while we were being led to believe there were WMDs in Iraq, wars were being funded with supplemental budgets, Cheney was meeting in secret with Big Oil to ease regulations, etc., and other under the radar dealings of the G. W. Bush administration were going on. I received no answer to my query.

    It seems that some on the right have totally different standards and expectations when a democrat is in the WH. Everything with President Obama has become a cause for concern that our nation is on a path to sure destruction. I place the fear mongering and lies squarely at the feet of Fuchs Noose, other rw entertainers and would be journalists, and the far rw members in Congress. It’s a shame that the cure for this is as simple as using the Google function on one’s computer, but I think many on the right don’t really want to know the truth. They just want someone to confirm their view of the world. They are consciously choosing to ignore the fact that Bush may have been “clearing brush” in May 2007 and sent Darth Cheney to Arlington National Cemetery. God help us.

  2. …the big tea bagging deal at the moment…

    Why refer to Americans who are exercising their right to protest by using that vulgar term? Maybe you aren’t actually referring to the Tea Party people, maybe you are using that vile term to refer to those on the far right. But if that is your intent, you still slander those in the Tea Party movement who are respectfully exercising their God given right to protest as Americans.

    I read your article and sense that you are accusing folks on the right of being too outlandish with their rhetoric. Yet you use very harsh rhetoric as well.

    This isn’t a critique of your point, just your method. I myself think that Obama missing one Arlington Memorial Day service is understandable. Now if his first term comes to pass and he has not attended any of the 4 Arlington Mem. Day ceremonies, then I might concede that he has a serious disconnect where the military is concerned.

  3. Don – It was tea baggers who showed up at rallies with tea bags stapled to their heads. And tea baggers were the first to call people names — “socialist,” “fascist” and “Nazi” and the rest of those ridiculous things. More importantly, compared with the civil rights movement, the pro-choice or anti-abortion movements and other causes, the tea party phenomenon is not a legitimate “movement.” It is a bully mob of easily duped right-wingers created by the Republican Party to promote the interests of mega-corporations and to do as much damage as possible to the current administration.

    Polls show that the vast majority of these bullies voted for George Bush and the Republicans who ran Congress from 1995 to 2007. If anything, tea baggers should be embarrassed and apologetic for those votes and ashamed of acting so churlish about the economy and the size of government when they are responsible as voters for the disastrous Bush presidency and the Republicans’ anti-regulatory policies that led to the economic collapse, the Bush Recession and the Gulf oil spill — not to mention the $125 billion we’ve spent on an unnecessary war in Iraq, the drowning of New Orleans, his trampling of civil rights and on and on.

    Tea baggers have a lot of nerve complaining about name-calling, so we’ll just say that “tea bagger” is as accurate a name for them as “Muslim, socialist Nazi” is for the president, and leave it at that.

    And finally, the president has already attended one ceremony at Arlington — the one in May of last year, where he did something George Bush never did. He visited the graves of soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  4. Lousy photoshop job on the picture. At least try something with a resolution that’s remotely similar to make the picture look authentic.

    Jim – We reserve the right to annotate comments that make assertions that are demonstrably false. Below is a video from May 2009 of Pres. Obama greeting the coffin of Sgt. Dale Griffin, who was killed in Afghanistan.

    – Pensito Review Editors

  5. From the proverbial Internet search.

    “The Arlington visit is a fairly recent tradition. Former President Ronald Reagan attended four of them in his eight years in office, while former President George H.W. Bush sent Vice President Dan Quayle to every one. Former President Bill Clinton, though, attended every year and George W. Bush missed only one, in 2002, when he was in France.”

    The childish “he did it first” game has no beginning or end. If you don’t like the rhetoric, hyperbole or ad hominems of your opponent, mimicking them will never result in mature discussion.

  6. Unfortunately, Lawrence, “mature discussion” with Tea Bagger/Glenn Beck/Dittohead idiots is a waste of good oxygen.

  7. The Tea Party movement was created by the GOP?? LOL Funny how on one hand the left cites the GOP as incapable of any intelligent thought and then on the other hand they accuse them of creating a faux grass roots movement. Wow.

    Sorry, but the Tea Party movement is nowhere near being a far right movement.

    …Gallup came out with a poll that flies in the face of every meme that the main stream press has tried to throw at the resurgent Tea Party movement. Essentially, Tea Party activists are normal, decent, racially diverse, concerned citizens that fear for the country. Duh! Anyone that has attended a Tea Party protest knows these things. It is more obvious, by the day, that press outlets that repeat the racist/birther/bigot meme simply have not. Gallup:

    PRINCETON, NJ — Tea Party supporters skew right politically; but demographically, they are generally representative of the public at large. That’s the finding of a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted March 26-28, in which 28% of U.S. adults call themselves supporters of the Tea Party movement.In several other respects, however — their age, educational background, employment status, and race — Tea Partiers are quite representative of the public at large.

    This table shows the breakdown of the demographics of the Tea Party movement:

    This is a CNN/Gallup poll, quite clearly these outlets are not right leaning in their views. This, I feel lends quite a bit of credibility to the findings.


    As far as the Tea Party folks calling people Nazis, well I would love to see video of that happening. Please provide the link. Have they called Obama and his administration socialists? Marxists? Yes, they have. But then Obama’s actions show that he is all for socialism in some form or another. And there are plenty of people in his administration that make no bones about referring to themselves as socialists.

    No, the Tea Party movement is a true grassroots movement that is just what this country needs. I find it odd that when those who lean right protest, they are branded with a vile, vulgar name like “Tea Baggers,” yet when the left protest they are lauded as exercising the “highest form of patriotism.

    If the Tea Party movement is organized by the GOP, they are really a stickler for details because after the rallies, the Tea Party folks actually clean up after themselves.

    After the Obama inauguration event:

    After the 9/12 Tea Party rally:

    Before you go accusing good, honest Americans of being racists, and using that vile sexual reference as a name, you might want to look at how the left protests.

  8. Here are the links to the pics from above. Sorry I tried to post them in my comments.

    This table shows the breakdown of the demographics of the Tea Party movement:


    After the Obama inauguration event:


    After the 9/12 Tea Party rally:



    Again, apologies for not coding correctly to post the pics with my comments.

  9. Don – Thanks for dropping by. We’ve been covering the tea bagger mobs extensively:

    You seemed shocked at the idea that tea baggers frequently call the president a Nazi and asked for links. Here are just a very few:

    As to your points:

    Pres. Obama is no more a socialist than any president we have ever had. To say he’s more a socialist than Reagan, who raised taxes eight times, Bush Sr. who raised taxes and pushed through the Americans with Disabilities Act or Bush Jr. with his Medicare supplement, is simply delusional — a product of vile, McCarthyite conservative disinformation. Obama is a regulatory capitalist, just like all his predecessors going back to Theodore Roosevelt.

    Republicans, at the behest of their corporate donors, want few regulations — an approach that results, time and time again, with contaminated food, massive oil spills and economic failures like the Great Depression and the current Bush Recession. Democrats want smart regulations that are sufficient to protect the populace from corporate greed and malfeasance but not a whit more than is required. That is Obama’s position. I defy you to produce reputable sources otherwise — meaning: not right wing propaganda like you cited above.

    Broadly defined, however, we are a socialist nation. There are socialist public school systems in every state. Most communities have socialist, publicly owned hospitals. We all use socialist (not private) security and fire protection in the form of police and sheriff departments and fire departments. And, of course, tea baggers are famous for their love of socialist programs like Social Security and Medicare — as noted here: Sublime Tea Baggery: ‘Don’t Steal from Medicare to Support Socialized Medicine’.

    If — God help us — John McCain had been elected, I seriously doubt he would have let the economy crash without some sort of stimulus program. He voted for and he and Palin both supported Bush’s TARP program. He undoubtedly would have not only NOT let the banks fail, he would have opposed any effort to punish them for their excesses. And if he’d let GM and Chrysler fail, he’d be way below the 50 percent approval rating Pres. Obama has now.

    But I have to take umbrage with this: Pres. Obama’s inauguration was not a “protest.” That you would suggest that a moment of triumph for the United States when a black man was inaugurated just 44 years after the end of Jim Crow is somehow a “protest” — against white people, I guess — is one of the most degenerate and inherently racist political statements I’ve heard in a while.

    Furthermore, 1.8 million people attended the inauguration, and, yes, they left a mess, but that’s what crowds do. By comparison, there were only 60,000 people, at best, at the tea bagger conclave. And the attendees didn’t clean up after themselves. That’s just a lie. The corporations who secretly funded the rally paid for the clean up under the direction of the socialist National Park Service.

    Tea baggery is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party. FreedomWorks, the astroturf group that funnels GOP corporate money to the tea bagger mob, is led by Dick Armey, the former Republican Majority Leader of the House, who is paid $500,000 year for his work in duping hapless right-wingers into promoting his corporatist agenda while coddling their belief that they’re protesting big government — even though he is as culpable as anyone for exploding the size of government with the unfunded (read: borrowed from communist China) war funding he, Bush, Cheney, Rove, DeLay and Hastert rammed through time after time, as well as the unfunded (again: borrowed from China) Medicare supplement, and on and on.

    As noted, Tea Party Express is operated by a Republican consulting firm. With zero (0) transparency, they used undisclosed corporate money to pay for their buses, permits for rallies, sound and stage equipment for the rallies, speakers fees, salaries for staffers who ran media relations, security and the rest.

    That ain’t “independent,” and it ain’t “grass roots.”

    And if tea partiers don’t like the branding, they should take it up with them their paid organizers. The whining about name-calling and insistence on political correctness reinforce the impression among normal Americans that tea party types are too clueless and hypocritical to be taken seriously.

  10. They chose the name…make them stick with it. If only we could make them understand that attending a public school is socialism. Bush was a socialist as much as any U.S. president.

  11. Funny, chowchowmom, you criticize the president for fumbling a statement during the campaign by fumbling your comment here:

    “Perhaps its because he is so bad at look what he said last time.”

    Tea baggers have no sense of shame. As proof of that, here are just a few of the fumbled statements by the president tea baggers still worship, George. W. Bush:

    “And I, unfortunately, have been to too many disasters as president.” –George W. Bush, discussing flooding in the Midwest, Washington, D.C., June 17, 2008

    “This is my maiden voyage. My first speech since I was the president of the United States and I couldn’t think of a better place to give it than Calgary, Canada.” –George W. Bush, as reported by the Associated Press, Calgary, Canada, March 17, 2009

    “I’m going to put people in my place, so when the history of this administration is written at least there’s an authoritarian voice saying exactly what happened.” –George W. Bush, on what he hopes to accomplish with his memoir, as reported by the Associated Press, Calgary, Canada, March 17, 2009

    “One of the very difficult parts of the decision I made on the financial crisis was to use hardworking people’s money to help prevent there to be a crisis.” –George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Jan. 12, 2009

    “I’m telling you there’s an enemy that would like to attack America, Americans, again. There just is. That’s the reality of the world. And I wish him all the very best.” –George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Jan. 12, 2009

    “In terms of the economy, look, I inherited a recession, I am ending on a recession.” –George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Jan. 12, 2009

    “I guess it’s OK to call the secretary of education here ‘buddy.’ That means friend.” –George W. Bush, Philadelphia, Jan. 8, 2009

    “I guess it’s OK to call the secretary of education here ‘buddy.’ That means friend.” –George W. Bush, Philadelphia, Jan. 8, 2009

    “So I analyzed that and decided I didn’t want to be the president during a depression greater than the Great Depression, or the beginning of a depression greater than the Great Depression.” –George W. Bush, Washington D.C., Dec. 18, 2008

    “People say, well, do you ever hear any other voices other than, like, a few people? Of course I do.” –George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Dec. 18, 2008

    “I’ve abandoned free market principles to save the free market system.” –George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2008

    “You know, I’m the President during this period of time, but I think when the history of this period is written, people will realize a lot of the decisions that were made on Wall Street took place over a decade or so, before I arrived in President, during I arrived in President.” –George W. Bush, ABC News interview, Dec. 1, 2008

    “I’ve been in the Bible every day since I’ve been the president.” –George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Nov. 12, 2008

    “He was a great father before politics, a great father during politics and a great father after politics.” –George W. Bush, on his father, George H.W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Nov. 12, 2008

    “Yesterday, you made note of my — the lack of my talent when it came to dancing. But nevertheless, I want you to know I danced with joy. And no question Liberia has gone through very difficult times.” –George W. Bush, speaking with the president of Liberia, Washington, D.C., Oct. 22, 2008

    “I want to share with you an interesting program — for two reasons, one, it’s interesting, and two, my wife thought of it — or has actually been involved with it; she didn’t think of it. But she thought of it for this speech.” –George W. Bush, discussing a company that improves access to clean water in Africa, Washington D.C., Oct. 21, 2008

    “This thaw — took a while to thaw, it’s going to take a while to unthaw.” –George W. Bush, on liquidity in the markets, Alexandria, La., Oct. 20, 2008

    “I didn’t grow up in the ocean — as a matter of fact — near the ocean — I grew up in the desert. Therefore, it was a pleasant contrast to see the ocean. And I particularly like it when I’m fishing.” –George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Sept. 26, 2008

    “Anyone engaging in illegal financial transactions will be caught and persecuted.” –George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Sept. 19, 2008

    “We’re fixing to go down to Galveston and obviously are going to see a devastated part of this fantastic state.” –George W. Bush, Houston, Sept. 16, 2008

    “The people in Louisiana must know that all across our country there’s a lot of prayer — prayer for those whose lives have been turned upside down. And I’m one of them.” –George W. Bush, Baton Rouge, La., Sept. 3, 2008

    “First of all, I don’t see America having problems.” –George W. Bush, interview with Bob Costas at the 2008 Olympics, Beijing, China, Aug. 10, 2008

    “I’m coming as the president of a friend, and I’m coming as a sportsman.” –George W. Bush, on his trip to the Olympics in China, Washington, D.C., July 30, 2008

    “There’s no question about it. Wall Street got drunk — that’s one of the reasons I asked you to turn off the TV cameras — it got drunk and now it’s got a hangover. The question is how long will it sober up and not try to do all these fancy financial instruments.” –George W. Bush, speaking at a private fundraiser, Houston, Texas, July 18, 2008 (Watch video clip)

    “I think it was in the Rose Garden where I issued this brilliant statement: If I had a magic wand — but the president doesn’t have a magic wand. You just can’t say, ‘low gas.'” –George W. Bush, Washington D.C., July 15, 2008

    “And they have no disregard for human life.” –George W. Bush, on the brutality of Afghan fighters, Washington, D.C., July 15, 2008

    “The economy is growing, productivity is high, trade is up, people are working. It’s not as good as we’d like, but — and to the extent that we find weakness, we’ll move.” –George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., July 15, 2008

    “Goodbye from the world’s biggest polluter.” –George W. Bush, in parting words to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy at his final G-8 Summit, punching the air and grinning widely as the two leaders looked on in shock, Rusutsu, Japan, July 10, 2008

    “Amigo! Amigo!” –George W. Bush, calling out to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Spanish at the G-8 Summit, Rusutsu, Japan, July 10, 2008

    “Throughout our history, the words of the Declaration have inspired immigrants from around the world to set sail to our shores. These immigrants have helped transform 13 small colonies into a great and growing nation of more than 300 people.” –George W. Bush, Charlottesville, Va., July 4, 2008

    “Should the Iranian regime-do they have the sovereign right to have civilian nuclear power? So, like, if I were you, that’s what I’d ask me. And the answer is, yes, they do.” –George W. Bush, talking to reporters in Washington, D.C., July 2, 2008

    “But oftentimes I’m asked: Why? Why do you care what happens outside of America?” –George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., June 26,2008

    “I remember meeting a mother of a child who was abducted by the North Koreans right here in the Oval Office.” –George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., June 26, 2008

    “I want to tell you how proud I am to be the President of a nation that — in which there’s a lot of Philippine-Americans. They love America and they love their heritage. And I reminded the President that I am reminded of the great talent of the — of our Philippine-Americans when I eat dinner at the White House.” –George W. Bush, referring to White House chef Cristeta Comerford while meeting with Filipino President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Washington, D.C., June 24, 2008 (Watch video clip)

    “There is some who say that perhaps freedom is not universal. Maybe it’s only Western people that can self-govern. Maybe it’s only, you know, white-guy Methodists who are capable of self-government. I reject that notion.” –George W. Bush, London, June 16, 2008

    “Your eminence, you’re looking good.” –George W. Bush to Pope Benedict XVI, using the title for Catholic cardinals, rather than addressing him as “your holiness,” Rome, June 13, 2008

    “The German asparagus are fabulous.” –George W. Bush, Meseberg, Germany, June 11, 2008

    “We’ve got a lot of relations with countries in our neighborhood.” –George W. Bush, Kranj, Slovenia, June 10, 2008

    “One of the things important about history is to remember the true history.” –George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., June 6, 2008

    “There’s no question this is a major human disaster that requires a strong response from the Chinese government, which is what they’re providing, but it also responds a compassionate response from nations to whom — that have got the blessings, good blessings of life, and that’s us.” –George W. Bush, on relief efforts after a Chinese earthquake, Washington, D.C., June 6, 2008

    “Let’s make sure that there is certainty during uncertain times in our economy.” — George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., June 2, 2008

    “We got plenty of money in Washington. What we need is more priority.” –George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., June 2, 2008

    “And so the fact that they purchased the machine meant somebody had to make the machine. And when somebody makes a machine, it means there’s jobs at the machine-making place.” –George W. Bush, Mesa, Arizona, May 27, 2008

    “I don’t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.” –George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., May 13, 2008

    “I’ll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office.” –George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., May 12, 2008

    “How can you possibly have an international agreement that’s effective unless countries like China and India are not full participants?” –George W. Bush, Camp David, April 19, 2008

    “Oftentimes people ask me, ‘Why is it that you’re so focused on helping the hungry and diseased in strange parts of the world?'” –George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., April 18, 2008

    “We want people owning their home — we want people owning a businesses.” –George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., April 18, 2008

    “So long as I’m the president, my measure of success is victory — and success.” –George W. Bush, on Iraq, Washington, D.C., April 17, 2008

    “Thank you, your Holiness. Awesome speech.” –George W. Bush, to Pope Benedict, Washington, D.C., April 15, 2008 (Watch video clip)

    “A lot of times in politics you have people look you in the eye and tell you what’s not on their mind.” –George W. Bush, Sochi, Russia, April 6, 2008

    “Afghanistan is the most daring and ambition mission in the history of NATO.” –George W. Bush, Bucharest, Romania, April 2, 2008

    “Soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, and Coastmen — Coast Guardmen, thanks for coming, thanks for wearing the uniform.” –George W. Bush, at the Pentagon, March 19, 2008

    “I thank the diplomatic corps, who is here as well.” –George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., March 12, 2008

    “Removing Saddam Hussein was the right decision early in my presidency, it is the right decision now, and it will be the right decision ever.” –George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., March 12, 2008

    “Let me start off by saying that in 2000 I said, ‘Vote for me. I’m an agent of change.’ In 2004, I said, ‘I’m not interested in change –I want to continue as president.’ Every candidate has got to say ‘change.’ That’s what the American people expect.” –George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., March 5, 2008

    “And so, General, I want to thank you for your service. And I appreciate the fact that you really snatched defeat out of the jaws of those who are trying to defeat us in Iraq.” –George W. Bush, to Army Gen. Ray Odierno, Washington, D.C., March 3, 2008

    “Wait a minute. What did you just say? You’re predicting $4-a-gallon gas? … That’s interesting. I hadn’t heard that.” –George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Feb. 28, 2008

    “I’m oftentimes asked, What difference does it make to America if people are dying of malaria in a place like Ghana? It means a lot. It means a lot morally, it means a lot from a — it’s in our national interest.” –George W. Bush, Accra, Ghana, Feb. 20, 2008

    “There is no doubt in my mind when history was written, the final page will say: Victory was achieved by the United States of America for the good of the world.” –George W. Bush, addressing U.S. troops at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait, Jan. 12, 2008

    “I can press when there needs to be pressed; I can hold hands when there needs to be — hold hands.” –George W. Bush, on how he can contribute to the Middle East peace process, Washington, D.C., Jan. 4, 2008

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