Anyone who’s ever served could have told the POTUS-in-Chief this joke would produce crickets. Half the people who haven’t served could have told him.
For one (very important) thing, it’s not “fatigues.” The concept of fatigues as an approved form of military attire is from a bygone era. Since POTUS apparently needs a primer, the troops attending his speech are wearing BDUs. That’s what the iconic combat and working uniform of the modern military is called.
For another thing, the boredom in Obama’s voice, as he ticks off all the “gifts” the military gives us in the run-up to the Santa joke, is palpable. It’s obvious he’s just cramming in a lot of banal examples, to swell his point with a minimum of rhetorical effort.
For yet another thing, he barely gives a nod to the connection between national defense and freedom — national defense and all we hold dear. Sure, the troops care about people’s soccer games and Christmas celebrations. They care about missing those things themselves, although they don’t go around morosely reminding themselves of it. But any fool can tell them America appreciates that they may have to miss out on some shopping. What POTUS can tell them is things like “America has been spared another 9/11 in the last 13 years because of you.” He can tell them, “You stand shoulder to shoulder with generations of American fighting men and women who have stood the watch to guard our freedoms and our way of life.”
Of course, he’d have to believe those things first, to say them with conviction. As it is, he’s not a CinC trying to inspire his troops. He’s just a performer trying to get a reaction from an audience.