“DISGRACEFUL” That’s how Bernard Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner and Donald Trump buddy, characterized the actions of Vice President Kamala Harris Monday night when she ascended the steps of Air Force Two without returning the salute of two Airmen who were saluting her. “It is a clear demonstration of her dislike for those in uniform, both law enforcement and military.”
DISGRACEFUL: @VP Kamala Harris refuses to salute the honor guard at the steps of the aircraft. It is a clear demonstration of her dislike for those in uniform, both law-enforcement and military. pic.twitter.com/7QFHzamnt7
— Bernard B. Kerik (@BernardKerik) March 23, 2021
Kerik, of course, knows a thing or two – or three – about disgrace. In 2004, at the urging of Rudy Giuliani, then-President George W. Bush nominated Kerik to be homeland security secretary. But within a week he had to withdraw his name from consideration after questions arose about the immigration status of a nanny he once employed. Two years later “Mr. Law & Order” paid more than $200,000 in fines after pleading guilty to two misdemeanors in connection with renovations done on his apartment. The firm he had contracted was long suspected of having ties to organized crime.
And in 2010 he pleaded guilty to two counts of tax fraud, one count of making a false statement on a loan application and five counts of making false statements to the federal government while being vetted for senior posts and was sentenced to four years in prison. He was released after serving three years and last year was pardoned by Trump.
So it’s against that backdrop of disgrace that Kerik sought to disparage Harris about saluting. As many who commented on his misinformed tweet pointed out – and was confirmed Wednesday by the Pentagon – neither Harris nor President Joe Biden are obligated to salute members of the military since they are civilians. Technically it’s not even a requirement for the military to Biden or Harris.
“There is no overarching instruction or regulation that requires the President or Vice President to return hand salutes from members of the Armed Forces,” Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said after being asked about it at a press conference. “Vice President Harris has made very clear her respect and admiration for the men and women of the military, as well as their families.”
He added, “The rendering of the hand salute by military personnel is a time-honored tradition and one of the first military lessons installed in new recruits. From their first days in the military, new recruits are taught to salute when they meet more senior leaders – a common phrase among drill instructors is ‘When in doubt, throw it out.'”
Fun fact: the first president to begin returning salutes from uniformed service members was Ronald Reagan, who, as military news site Task & Purpose reported, sought advice from the Marine Corps commandant at the time for a courteous way to allow service members to lower their salutes while still in the presence of the commander in chief.