Two U.S. Marines in uniform, standing at attention against an ominous red background while President Joe Biden delivered a harshly partisan damnation of former President Donald Trump and his supporters has drawn sharp criticism. It’s improper to use the military as a prop for a political speech, critics are saying.
Thursday night’s speech at Independence Hall in Philadelphia clearly was political, as it bashed Biden’s most likely opponent — Trump.
But the White House says it was all proper.
“The presence of the Marines at the speech was intended to demonstrate the deep and abiding respect the president has for these service members, to these ideals, and the unique role our independent military plays in defending our democracy no matter which party is in power,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
But even some in the mainstream media were shocked at the breach in protocol:
“Whatever you think of this speech, the military is supposed to be apolitical. Positioning Marines in uniform behind President Biden for a political speech flies in the face of that. It’s wrong when Democrats do it. It’s wrong when Republicans do it,” wrote CNN anchor Brianna Keilar on Twitter.
“Like or loathe what he said tonight, it should be noted: The president spoke tonight on the grounds of a national park, flanked by US Marines, and took direct, specific aim at his predecessor and members of the Republican Party,” wrote CBS reporter Ed O’Keefe. “Another thing we don’t see everyday.”
Jean-Pierre said it is quite normal for presidents to use military as a backdrop, and that “Standing up for democracy is not political.”
“The president gave an important speech last night, a critical speech at an inflection point, and our democracy, our values, our values that our men and women who protect us every day and fight for every day believe in as well,” Jean-Pierre said Friday.