WEEK IN READVIEW: Iowa Caucus, campaigning in BDUs, and "Your Excellency" Michelle Obama

This is Amanda Read’s weekly brief review of current events. Photo: Iowa Caucus 2012 results by GoogleMaps

This is Amanda Read’s weekly brief review of current events. 

OHATCHEE, Al. January 7, 2012 — Wasted votes?  On January 3rd, the Iowa Caucus took place with unprecedented close results. Mitt Romney managed to beat Rick Santorum by a paltry 8 votes, while Ron Paul earned a significant third place. Elections this close remind us how much every vote matters – and according to a report by The Washington Times’ Kerry Picket, eyewitnesses say some votes were spent on Donald Trump, who isn’t even running for president. Other sources say that Herman Cain, who left the race in early December, received 58 votes.

One has to wonder how the outcome of the race would have been had all caucus goers voted for the candidates actually in the field instead of making “protest votes”.

U.S. Army Corporal Jesse Thorsen campaigns for Ron Paul in his BDUs after the Iowa Caucus (Reuters/Jim Young).

Is he allowed to do that?  During Ron Paul’s third place celebration, an American soldier in battle dress uniform stepped up to the podium to cheer on his favorite candidate. The image was certainly visually compelling.

But ever since I was an Army child, I’ve been under the impression that such is not proper public conduct for a member of the armed forces (back then we were not allowed to display campaign signs in our yards while living on post). This is because those performing the military role are supposed to respect their Commander-in-Chief regardless of partisan politics. Otherwise, outward dissent among troops reflects weakness to our enemies (although supporting a political candidate privately is fine).

According to the Naval Inspector General, “Generally…[Military] Personnel, including reserve forces, are prohibited from wearing military uniforms at political campaign or election events. Attendance at rallies, meetings and conventions as a spectator and not in uniform is allowed.”

(See also Department of Defense Directive, “Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces”)

UPDATE (01/09/2012): An Army friend just alerted me to the fact that Army uniforms are no longer called BDUs. They’re now called ACUs (Army Combat Uniforms). Thanks for the clarification! Wow, I guess my dad was an officer in the olden days…

Is that any way to address a first lady?  First Lady Michelle Obama evoked simpers throughout the blogosphere when a clip featuring her guest appearance on the Nickelodeon show iCarly surfaced. Upon seeing the first lady in person, Sam Puckett (Jennette McCurdy) asks, “So what are you doing here – Your Excellency?” When Sam is corrected for addressing the first lady like that, Michelle Obama sweetly interrupts, “No, no, I kind of like it.”

It’s no secret that some have a good time teasing Michelle Obama with royal titles. But did you know that some American political offices actually do have the official address of “Your Excellency”?

President George Washington was originally addressed “His Excellency” until the humble gentleman farmer himself insisted on the plainer honorific “Mr. President” (his wife was called “Lady Presidentress,” and evidently that title didn’t last long either). Governors of the original Thirteen Colonies were addressed “His Excellency,” and the style has remained to this day for the governors of states such as Virginia and Massachusetts (most other states have come to use “The Honorable” instead).

According to the AP Stylebook, “first lady” – a style of address adopted in the 19th century to define an American executive hostess – is not an official title and thus is technically not supposed to be capitalized preceding the woman’s name in mid-sentence, although historically it has been capitalized.


Amanda Read is an unconventional scholar, a Southerner without an accent, a Christian who hasn’t been a churchgoer in 17 years and a college student who lives with eight younger siblings. A writer and artist, she blogs at www.amandaread.com and is the author of the historical drama screenplay The Crusading Chemist. Amanda is majoring in history and minoring in political science at Troy University.

Keep up with her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AmandaChristineRead and Twitter:

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Amanda Read

Amanda Read is a columnist for the Communities at The Washington Times. Trained as a historian, skilled as a writer, and aspiring to be a filmmaker, Amanda investigates the ideas behind contemporary culture and politics. A professional writer and researcher, she is also a Christian homeschool graduate, unconventional college graduate, military daughter, and eldest of the nine Read children at Fair Hills Farm. Find more of her work at www.amandaread.com

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