As we moved through the pre-dinner ceremony that’s standard for a formal Army function, it struck me that for the first time, I’d be toasting someone I’d voted for. A small thing, but it made me happy.
The buzz didn’t last long. When it came time to raise our glasses – to the commander in chief, to the troops, to the fallen – there was audible derision from more than one Army wife at my table when we toasted the president.
This was plain bad manners, in my view. Either you follow the protocol at these events, silly as it may be, or you don’t attend. And given their age and their husbands’ ranks, those women should have had enough time around the military, not to mention basic life experience, to know how to act.
I had no great affection for the previous commander in chief, but no one at any military function I’ve attended would ever have known that. I may have been biting my tongue behind the smile, but I stayed neutral and pleasant, as any polite guest would.
The incident was soon behind us, and the rest of the evening was nice. But something has been bothering me since then. I used to think the milspouse sisterhood could trump all – rank, religion, race, social stratus, politics. I had the idea that I could call on any Army spouse if I really needed help, and it would be given ungrudgingly, because we are all in the same boat. After hearing the casual vitriol directed toward Obama, though, I’m wondering if these women would just as soon toss me over the side if they knew how I voted. And more to the point, I’m wondering if their husbands could eventually make my husband’s career harder than it needs to be.
So, readers, I have a few questions for you.
- Have you have seen this sort of thing happen in what should have been a neutral military setting?
- How were attitudes during Clinton’s presidency, especially early on? I know he had his share of detractors in the military; did people bother to hide their distaste for him? I don’t think I need to ask, but just in case: Did you ever hear any Bush-bashing at a military function?
- Do you wonder how different your support from milspouses would be if they knew your politics first, before getting to know the whole you?