Invited to participate in the Oscar awards ceremony by a trade association receiving $1,200,000,000 in tax credits from the government, First Lady Michelle Obama chose to surround herself with members of the United States Military who were used purely as window dressing to make the First Lady look more impressive. At no time during her remarks did Ms. Obama look at any of the members of the surrounding military or say anything to acknowledge their existence or the existence of the military generally. I kept waiting for some form of explanation for all of the decked out guests behind the First Lady, but none was ever forthcoming. I for one was suddenly cheering for Zero Dark Thirty to win the award just to see the reaction of the First Lady.
Following the broadcast I spoke to several of my friends about the odd moment of Oscar history and was surprised to find that one of my friends that was former military was furious about the misuse of the troops standing behind the Ms. Obama. There is a legal basis for his frustration. Military regulations prohibit “the wearing of a military uniform during or in connection with the furtherance of any political or commercial interests,” according to the Department of Defense. My friend was not alone in his anger about the President and First Lady taking advantage of a billion viewer audience to use the military for political purposes.
Jennifer Rubin, Washington Pos
Jennifer Rubin, a conservative columnist for The Washington Post, noted that Michelle Obama didn’t even acknowledge the military during her appearance:
She declared of the Best Picture nominees, “They reminded us that we can overcome any obstacle if we dig deep enough and fight hard enough and find the courage within ourselves.” Alas, none of the films nor her aides reminded her to mention the military, not those personnel behind her nor those serving overseas, an odd omission for the White House that nevertheless was pleased to have them arrayed behind her like, well, set decoration. (Rubin)
Rubin went on to say that the military personnel were used as nothing more than “props” for the first lady to “intrude” on American entertainment.
And a man who was once responsible for all public relations in the Department of Veterans Affairs said the use of the military may have crossed an ethical line. Ed Timperlake — a former Marine fighter pilot who served as an assistant secretary in the Department of Veterans Affairs under President George H.W. Bush — told The Daily Caller in an interview Monday that using the military as “window dressing” for a commercial event almost certainly “crossed the line” into “statist propaganda.” (Daily Caller) “I thought it was unseemly,” said Timperlake, recounting his reaction while watching the Oscars. “I think the use of the service members crossed the line. Putting her up on the stage to award an Oscar is fine. However, putting uniformed military behind her is coming up, maybe perhaps crossing the line where you’re using active duty military in their dress uniform as a prop … for commercial purposes,” Timperlake said. (Daily Caller) “America should be a little bit concerned, if not more concerned,” he suggested. “When you focus on the first lady with military members behind her that have nothing whatsoever to do with the event other than to essentially provide window dressing — which is harsh, but true — I think they were up against, if not crossing the line and that’s a slippery slope I don’t think America wants to be on.”