Obama Can't Even Avoid the Rain Without Causing a Scandal

This has not been Obama's month. And with scandals rising out of the State Department, the DOJ, and the IRS, it was really only a matter of time before the military got involved in some sort of cover-up too.

Only this time, the cover-up is an umbrella.

Umbrellagate began on Thursday during a rainy Rose Garden press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. As we've learned in these political scandals, when it rains, it pours — and when it really started pouring, Obama asked two Marines to hold umbrellas over the podiums.

So why, pray tell, have the umbrella-toting Marines set off another round of Obama-castigation? Is it because the commander-in-chief effectively turned them into White House Farnsworth Bentleys?

No. Apparently the outrage is derived from military regulations that bar umbrellas because they block the carriers from properly saluting.

And conservatives are pissssssed (ever-relevant Sarah Palin referred to it as a "Scandalous Hat Trick," because she'd never be hypocritical). And because never mind that Obama is the commander-in-chief; and never mind that Title 10 of the U.S. Code compels Marine Corps members to perform "other such duties as the President may direct."

“Obama expects our troops to hold damn umbrellas rather than go inside: It’s disrespectful, inconsiderate, classless,” Lou Dobbs said on Twitter.

This prohibition appears to be bolstered by a military belief that there is something "effeminate about umbrellas." Under Marine Corps uniform regulations, men cannot carry or use an umbrella while in uniform, but women may carry an all-black umbrella if they are not wearing combat uniforms. Attempted changes to this gender-controlled policy failed in the 1990s.

“They seem to be very nervous what constitutes unmanly behavior,” Clark University professor Cynthia Enloe told the Washington Post.

The gender disparity also applies to the Army. But not all service members have to get wet — both male and female Navy and Air Force members are allowed to carry umbrellas when they are not in field uniform. On the domestic side, we may never know how the Secret Service protects itself from rain — a spokesman refused to reveal if agents can carry umbrellas.

[via, photo via AP]