President Obama this year failed once again to commemorate D-Day, a missed opportunity to honor U.S. soldiers past and present while burnishing his political standing as a war leader.
Obama did not issue even a written statement or proclamation on D-Day either this year or last. He delivered a speech in Normandy, France in 2009 on the 65th anniversary of D-Day, following a tradition of presidential speeches every five-year anniversary of the battle.
On the heels of killing Osama Bin Laden, Obama is passing up chances to cast himself as a tough military leader and mitigate the traditional Republican advantage on national security issues.
According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted in March, only 17 percent see Obama as a “strong and decisive” commander of the armed forces. He was viewed by 36 percent as “indecisive and dithering.”
George W. Bush also mostly did not mark D-Day, a lamentable omission, especially during wartime. But Bush consistently spoke to Americans about the wars he fought, seizing the mantle of military leader and viewing the battles as the defining missions of his presidency.
Obama seems to view the wars he is conducting as a terrible inconvenience, sublimating them to his domestic agenda.
He rarely gives speeches on the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya or the war against terrorism. He commemorated Memorial Day at the Tomb of the Unknown soldier, but then undermined the effort by heading out to golf soon after the ceremony.
A D-Day speech surrounded by World War II veterans and current soldiers would remind the country that we are at war, while building bridges between a president and a military undergoing strenuous deployments and a difficult transition toward allowing gays to serve openly in the military.
Instead, the president has left regular outreach to the military to Michelle, who along with Jill Biden is leading the “Joining Forces” campaign to support military families.