When President Obama disembarked his helicopter in New York on Tuesday, he created a firestorm by doing what he has done thousands of times before: Salute the Marine standing on the tarmac.
Only this time, he had a cup in his hands, and he somewhat awkwardly delivered the salute while keeping hold of the paper cup.
Conservatives pounced. Twitter exploded. Some began calling it the “latte salute,” others referred to it as the “coffee salute.” The Washington Timed dubbed it “Semper Latte.”
We won’t dip too far into the controversy over whether the president was wrong to not give a full salute (although awkward salutes are a bipartisan affair; President Bush had his own miscue while holding his dog).
But we will say this: It is unlikely there was a latte in that cup. Or even coffee.
While we don’t know everything that President Obama drinks — and the White House has been tight-lipped about his habits — former aides say he rarely consumes coffee. He is partial to tea (ideally the Black Forest Berry flavor made by Honest Tea). Several times in recent months he has passed up opportunities to order coffee, opting for tea instead.
Photos of him in the White House show him with tea. A recent Instagram from Pete Souza of the president’s desk clearly shows tea in his cup.
So if there’s going to be a controversy over the salute, we should be calling it the “tea salute” or the “earl grey semper fi.”