Head Games

10.24.13

Story Claiming Obama Changed Marines’ Hat Is Ridiculous

Accusations that the president pressured the Marine Corps to adopt a new “feminine” hat are unfounded. Jacob Siegel spoke with Marines to set the record straight.

As if waging war while dealing with massive cuts from sequestration is not enough, the Marine Corps now has to defend itself from allegations that it bowed to pressure from President Obama to adopt an expensive unisex hat as part of its uniform.

The Marine Corps’ official inquiry to determine if a single unisex hat makes more sense than separate head coverings for male and female Marines was somehow blamed on President Obama in a story that circulated widely yesterday.  

The Daily Beast’s Hero Project has written in the past about serious problems in the military’s uniform selection process, but it didn’t take an expert to recognize the errors in yesterday’s New York Post story about the proposal for a new service hat.

To begin with the most egregiously misrepresented point, the Post story refers to an “Obama directive” to make male Marines “wear covers that look like woman’s hats. The president has nothing to do with the head cover selected for wear by military services or any other aspect of the uniform selection process.

Changes to the Marine uniform policy are proposed by the Marine Corps Uniform Board, a group of senior noncommissioned officers who meet annually to survey the force and draw up recommendations. Those recommendations are passed on to Marine Corps Commandant James Amos, who is the final decision maker on uniform matters.

The president has nothing to do with the head cover selected for wear by military services.

But these facts, known to any casual military observer or boot Marine, didn’t stop Jeane MacIntosh from writing: “Thanks to a plan by President Obama to create a “unisex” look for the corps, officials are on the verge of swapping out the Marines’ iconic caps with a new hat that some have derided as so “girly” they would make the French blush."

The story does have a certain economy of impact. In only a few lines, it manages to disparage the French, falsely blame the president for something he has nothing to do with, and use “girly” as a pejorative because apparently female Marines don’t really count. 

Asked if the president had weighed in at all on the decision, the commandant’s public affairs officer said, “As to the question whether the president directed the Marine Corps to change its cover: Absolutely not.”

The New York Post refused to comment for this story. Capt. Eric Flannagan, of the Marine Corps public affairs office, said a writer from the paper contacted his office, but never asked about the president and didn’t use any of the information they provided in the story that ran in the Post

Despite the furor and panic over the feminizing dangers of the new hat, it’s all a moot point—the Corps has no plans to adopt it. “The Marine Corps has zero intention of changing the male cover,” a spokesman told The Daily Beast.