Do you approve of Obama's decision to skip the Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery to go on vacation?
In response to which, I posted the following:
I don't have a problem with political disagreement. I think it is healthy and essential to a working democracy (or democratic republic, as the case may be), but the deliberate spread of misinformation and the willingness of most of us to uncritically pass it along really gets under my skin and makes me cringe for the future of our nation.
This is in response to the hubbub over Obama's Memorial Day trip to Chicago.
Well, in recent memory, Reagan skipped the ceremony in 1983, Bush41 skipped it in 1992, and Bush43 skipped in 2007. Do those matter, or is this just a problem because Obama is a Democrat (or something else)?
Unfortunately, "shoot first, fact-check later" has become the modus operandi of the Washington establishment. I think we can thank Karl Rove and 24-hour news channels; Rove's particular genius was to establish a nasty, dual-edged politics of deception during the Bush43 administration and the news establishment is constantly looking for anything to fill time, the more salacious the better. The Rove political game goes something like this:
1. Offense: Throw the nastiest, baseless accusations you can. The news media will run with the speculation, and your opponent will waste valuable time and resources denying and disproving whatever is untrue. By the time they manage to vindicate themselves, the viewing public is tired of the conversation and no longer cares. The only thing they will remember is the scandal.
2. Defense: Deflect, Distance, Dismiss. When the mud gets hurled at you, downplay the importance of the news. If possible, create something bigger to catch the news media's (and viewing public's) attention. Look for any and all ways to place blame outside of your immediate locus of control. When the public has tired of the scandal, act as though it is old news and not worthy of anyone's time.
We as information consumers bear a great deal of blame in this game, as we are not willing (or able?) to critically evaluate what is being fed to us. So, when I was challenged by my uncle about whether or not Clinton had made the date every year or what Bush and Reagan were doing when they did not make it, I had to admit to myself that I, too, had simply passed along information (thanks to Politics Daily). I now present, for your review, criticism, and discussion, the location of the president on each Memorial Day going back through Nixon (and who stood in when he wasn't at Arlington National Cemetery) along with news sources. I will also admit that these sources may not be the most authoritative; in most cases I chose the first available source with relevant information available in free preview. (With apologies for my ugly table code).
|Memorial Day Presidential Wreath Laying|
|Year||President||Memorial Day Location||Source(s)||At Arlington for Ceremony|
|2010||Obama||Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery - Elwood, IL||Source||Biden|
|2009||Obama||Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, VA||Source||Obama|
|2008||Bush43||Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, VA||Source||Bush43|
|2007||Bush43||Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, VA||Source||Bush43|
|2006||Bush43||Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, VA||Source||Bush43|
|2005||Bush43||Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, VA||Source||Bush43|
|2004||Bush43||Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, VA||Source||Bush43|
|2003||Bush43||Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, VA||Source||Bush43|
|2002||Bush43||Normandy American Cemetery, France||Source Source||Wolfowitz|
|2001||Bush43||Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, VA||Source||Bush43|
|2000||Clinton||Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, VA||Source||Clinton|
|1999||Clinton||Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, VA||Source||Clinton|
|1998||Clinton||Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, VA||Source||Clinton|
|1997||Clinton||Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, VA||Source||Clinton|
|1996||Clinton||Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, VA||Source||Clinton|
|1995||Clinton||Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, VA||Source||Clinton|
|1994||Clinton||Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, VA||Source||Clinton|
|1993||Clinton||Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, VA & Vietnam War Memorial||Source||Clinton|
|1992||Bush41||American Legion Post 149 - Kennebunkport, MN||Source||Quayle|
|1991||Bush41||Yale University Commencement - New Haven, CT||Source Source||Quayle|
|1990||Bush41||Kennebunkport, MN||Source Source||Quayle|
|1989||Bush41||NATO Meeting - Brussels, Belgium||Source||Quayle|
|1986||Reagan||Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, VA||Source||Reagan|
|1985||Reagan||Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, VA||Source||Reagan|
|1984||Reagan||Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, VA||Source||Reagan (Wreath? Internment of unknown Vietnam casualty)|
|1983||Reagan||Summit of Industrialized Nations - Williamsburg, VA||Source||Thayer|
|1982||Reagan||Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, VA||Source||Reagan|
|1981||Reagan||Santa Barbara, CA||Source||Bush41|
|1980||Carter||USS Nimitz Homecoming ||Source||Alexander|
|1979||Carter||Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, VA||Source||Carter|
|1978||Carter||Camp David, MD||Source Source||Brown|
|1977||Carter||St. Simon’s Island, GA||Source Source||Claytor|
|1976||Ford||Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, VA||Source||Ford|
|1975||Ford||Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, VA||Source||Ford|
|1974||Nixon||Key Biscane, FL||Source||Ford|
|1973||Nixon||Key Biscane, FL||Source Source||Schlesinger|
|1971||Nixon||Camp David, MD||Source||Rogers|
|1970||Nixon||San Clemente, CA||Source||Tower|
Counting this year, 19 times out of 42, someone other than the President has laid the ceremonial wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 15 of those times, the President has been Republican. Only Clinton and Ford have been at the ceremony every year of their presidencies; Bush43 only missed once; Bush41 (as president) and Nixon never made the ceremony.
Thanks to commentor "Grey" who noticed the error I had made, listing Reagan as president on Memorial Day in 1980...that was probably why I had so much trouble finding a reference to his whereabouts that day. Also thank you to commentor"Budd" for pointing out the sloppy language I used; Bush41 did in fact attend the ceremony, just never as CIC.