On Memorial Day, Vice President Joe Biden will handle the somber duty of laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, while President Obama will mark the day at a national cemetery back home in Illinois.
A few hours ago, Erick Erickson, CNN’s house conservative and founder of Redstate.org, decided that this represented a political opportunity that he should not miss.
“Obama skipping the Tomb of the Unknowns this weekend for Chicago is offensive. Chicago can wait. The Commander-in-Chief has a job to do.”
Pretty quickly, it was established that President Reagan had occasionally skipped annual duties at the Tomb.
As had President George H.W. Bush.
As had the more recent President Bush.
Caught red-handed, Erickson has just responded with another tweet:
“Diff b/w Reagan and Bush not going to Tomb and Obama? No one questioned their support for soldiers and belief in American Exceptionalism.”
Man oh man.
In itself, the incident is of little import. You could file it under IOKIYAR — “It’s OK if You Are Republican” — and forget about it. But I note it because it reflects all too well the childishness and pettiness that has come to infect American politics. Really, is this the best we can do? Has the capacity to feel shame disappeared?
But there’s also something deeper here. Erickson, Glenn Beck and others have tried to use this as an excuse to attack a president they don’t like. Fine, they don’t like him. But in trying to politicize a sacred national rite, haven’t they done precisely what they accuse Obama of doing? Is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier really just another ground from which to launch political attacks?