With that said, I want to be clear that President Bush wasn’t disrespecting the military, either, when he returned a salute with a dog in his hands. Ideally, the President would always return the salute crisply and properly when they exit Marine One or Air For One, but we need to remember that Presidents are people. They make mistakes. They have jobs that are 24/7, and in the public eye every second of that time. They make mistakes.
As John Steinbeck wrote in America and Americans:
"The President must be greater than anyone else, but not better than anyone else. We subject him and his family to close and constant scrutiny and denounce them for things that we ourselves do every day. A Presidential slip of the tongue, a slight error in judgment — social, political, or ethical — can raise a storm of protest. We give the President more work than a man can do, more responsibility than a man should take, more pressure than a man can bear. We abuse him often and rarely praise him. We wear him out, use him up, eat him up. And with all this, Americans have a love for the President that goes beyond loyalty or party nationality; he is ours, and we exercise the right to destroy him."
Steinbeck wrote that in 1966, and it is even more true today.