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dKos alum Steve Soto says it all:
But while the media slavishly covers [Bush's brief Baghdad trip] for maximum White House benefit, they conveniently forget that Clinton visited another war zone on Thanksgiving only four years ago, and he was able to travel into a war zone only five months after the US-arranged coalition secured the liberation of Kosovo.  My how quickly they forget.  The big difference was that Clinton was warmly received by a large contingent of troops in Kosovo, but more importantly was also warmly received by the natives prior to the event, who thanked him for their liberation.

Bush was unable to visit with the locals today, for obvious security reasons, and instead had to settle for a staged event in front of 600 troops that gave (from the look of the NBC video) a relatively subdued response.

I would be a lot more impressed if Bush spent the night in Iraq. Perhaps visited one of those famous schools that have allegedly opened since the war. But fact is that Iraq is nowhere near as calm and safe as the administration would have us believe. The country really is a mess, thanks to the US invasion and inept occupation.

And letting the president spend more than a few hyper-secret hours in Iraq would've been the height of folly.

Too bad some of those 600 soldiers couldn't come home with Bush. Given the chance, I bet most of them would've leapt at the chance. Instead, they get to stay behind and take incoming on behalf of the president's reelection bid.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Nov 27, 2003 at 06:17 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
    I'm so glad I haven't eaten yet. You just know what I would have done if I hada  belly full of turkey right now.

    I am Bushamed of my country.

    When injustice is law, resistance is duty. John Ashcroft is a traitor.

    by theoria on Thu Nov 27, 2003 at 06:24:18 PM PST

  •  Its a Clinton Fault (none)
    I think you are being unfair, why would you expect Bush to visit with the locals in Baghdad? He'd get lynched in half the cities in the US. Its not reasonable to expect him to get better treatment in a country where he's just staged an illegal invasion

    First thoughts when I saw the story on the BBC this morning.

    1. Bugger! This will steal the news cycle
    2. My, he IS getting desperate
    3. The Dems are setting the agenda. Down in the bulletin, about number 6, a story about how Hillary is visiting with Karzai, and others, waving the flag, meeting the trops and supporting them at thanksgiving, in Kabul.
  •  Cheering Troops? (none)
    I've been listening to NPR all day and I've heard this story enough times to make me puke.

    They've said 600 cheering troops over and over again. While I'll grant that many if not the majority there did cheer no one can make me believe that his support there is unanimous.

    I'm sure that Rove's eye to the future had much more to do with this trip than any "compassion" or heroism felt by Mr. Shrub.

    •  Re: Cheering Troops? (none)
      Ah yes, the Photo-Op Presidency.
    •  Re: Cheering Troops? (none)
      Yes, kinda funny that with 600 cheering troops they couldn't find one (at least for this story)

      http://uk.news.yahoo.com/031127/325/ef46f.html

      to quote.    The service person they did quote three times wasn't even there.

      And odd that so many soldiers just happened to bring cameras to the mess hall that day for the surprise visit.

    •  Re: Cheering Troops? (none)
      Yeah, I heard this all over NPR this afternoon..

      I have a strange feeling that there is something risky and possibly politically dangerous in what they did.  It's to do with the secrecy aspect - the fact that they hand picked a contingent of reporters and insisted on no leaks.  The whole thing invites plenty of discussion on the logistics of the visit, and how the officials were just so blatent about exercising power over members of the press and deliberately misleading others by saying Bush would be in Crawford.  

      It just seems like a bad door to open when one is already vulnerable to accusations of concentrating way too much on photo-ops and managing press coverage.

  •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
    And letting the president spend more than a few hyper-secret hours in Iraq would've been the height of folly.

    I think GOING at all was the height of folly.  Just like it was an unnecessarily dangerous stunt to land on the aircraft carrier.  He's an ego-driven fool.  Yes, nice for the troops--at least those who still believe in him--but nicer still would be an actual plan to get them home before NEXT Thanksgiving, alive and unhurt.  Ptooey.  I spit in his cranberry sauce.

  •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
    i think rove read this and panicked.

    god forbid a woman show up bush on iraq.

    accountability vs. corruption

    by niner on Thu Nov 27, 2003 at 07:07:51 PM PST

    •  Showing Up Bush (3.75)
      As I said above, exactly. He is responding to a Democrat who, incidentally, put her life on the line with zero fanfare, hardly any coverage and because it was the right thing to do.

      If only the rest of the Dems had half the political and human resources that she has.

      She took the initiative instead of waiting for some asshat or fascist to make the play, she is getting on with something simple, what she is supposed to do.

      And look at the panic. If only the rest of the dems would start acting like people who have their own plan, instead of endlessly whining and buttlicking and forelock tugging to this pack of criminals with no goddam plan, they might have a show. Remember a few months ago when it was arguably safer than it is now and a bunch of Dems meekly agreed that "there was no room for them on the flights" to inspect Iraq? Funny, Hillary managed it. What's she got that they haven't?

      OK, cojones, stones, balls etc, but what else?

      •  Re: Showing Up Bush (none)
        Agreed.In this case the more they fight back really does indicate the dems are making a dent.

        "The tyranny of the ignoramusus is insurmountable and assured for all time" <Albert Einstein>

        by shakes on Thu Nov 27, 2003 at 09:38:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Re: Showing Up Bush (none)
        Agreed he's responding. I think this was a political panic attack by Rove. He loaded up his puppets on AF1 and sent them for a photoop.

        But Hillarys' motives are undoubtably not so pure. You can bet she has an eye on 2008 or 2012 and she's doing all the right things to win those in  a big way. She's keeping the base Very happy and at the same time cautiously courting so-called 'mainstream conservatives'.

        •  Pure Motives (none)
          I'd call those pretty pure motives, she's a pol, she wants to win, she's putting in the hard yards. What's more, she has a long term goal and she's working on it 5 years out. She came through a sky full of flack for the NY job and then knuckled down to it OK.

          Damn, of the rest of her party had half the vision and a quarter the strategic thinking, they might be the government.

  •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
    Given the choice between Thanksgiving at Baghdad Airport with Bush and Thanksgiving safely at home with their families, I'd bet these men and women would generally have chosen the latter.
    This extremely expensive little political exercise -- likely the most costly campaign stop in US history -- was just nonsense.
    Bush is responsible for the fact that these men and women are where they are. He's not Bob Hope.
  •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
    People are PO'd because Shrub has good PR.

    PR Shpr

    Relax.  Just like the May extravaganza proved to be a fiasco, this deal will eventually look ridiculous. He hangs around just long enough to take a photo-op with a dead turkey and a few soldiers and splits.  Do you thing he'd try a Wolfowitz and stay overnight?

    What about the Latinos and African Americans who are doing his dirty work?

    As I said earlier

    Necesitamos un Kos en espanol!

    •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
      I hope that you're right.  If this kind of move is all that it takes to get people to vote for him then it's a lost cause. This is courageous compared to Clark and Kerry's service?  Politics has become insane.  The Dems need to hit "the Prancer" with an easy to understand scandal that will catch the spotlight. Otherwise they'll continue to be out-manuevered by Rove.
      •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
        I hope the public does not see any "heroism" in this, it is one of the most pathetic things I have ever seen a politician do. In a lot of ways it is even worse than the aircraft carrier stunt.
        •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
          Dream on, the US is a place where the high ground is Sally Jesse, literature is defined by Oprah and Dr Phil gets to define common sense for people who have lost the ability to make decisions, where debate happens on crossfire for gods sake and where questioning the validity of an illegal war witout a plan to achieve an unidentifiable objective against a tactic, not an enemy, is treason.

          You bet this will be constructed as heroism. And unless the dems can get their heads around an active aprpoach to politics, it will be used to beat them over the head for the next year.

          I don't want to hear what you "hope", I want to hear how you are going to turn it around in your daily conversations with his vassals.

          •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
            I wish I knew how to turn it around. You cannot pour intelligence and sense into people's heads. We have somewhere in the range of 50 million people who are illiterate in the United States and they get their news from Fox, Sally Jesse, etc.
            •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
              Rob, work on one person at a time. If you find that you don't get anywhere, try new tactics or read books about how to do it. Michael Moore's "How to talk to a Republican" chapter isn't half bad.
            •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
              You cant 'pour sense into peoples heads'. You cant make them think what you want. Indeed the strength of democracy is our individuality.

              You cant "force them into line" which our leadership  has been trying to do for along time.

              You can LEAD. Its' what Dean is doing. People arent excited about him because of his positions,tactics, or machiavellian strategies to control the populace.  They are excited because he is a Leader. John Kennedy was a leader. Teddy Roosevelt was a leader. FDR was a leader. Its' been so long since we've seen one in politics we forgot what they look like.

              A beauracrat or a tyrant uses his power to force the people where he wants them to be. A leader  stands in front of the people and takes them where they want to go.

              •  Hurry Up and Lead (none)
                Ghandi said that he had to hurry to get in front of his people, especially since he was supposed to be their leader.

                Churchill was a leader, he offered nothing but blood sweat, toil and tears. Americans often say that they need a positive leadership, yet W has been the most negative, fearful person you could imagine. If the Dems can offer actual leadership instead of the endless litany of fear and loathing, maybe they can do it.

                Its something that I have liked about Dean since early on, his comment about Bush "I like the guy, he's just surrounded by bad advice" was leadership, his embrace of Clark just before he declared himself a runner was more of the same.

                What the Dems need is a person who can get fired up about things that matter to him/ her, who can be relentless when it is needed, who doesn't waste his energy by defending himself and his ego to the death and who can do the Clinton thing when someone takes a pot at him, the wry smile, the shaking head and the "there you go again" attitude.

                I read that after the Republican sweep into congress and the "Contract with America" shtick, Clinton invited Gingrich to a barbecue and they were sitting aside from the crowd at one point. Clinton patted Gingrich on the knee and said "you have to know one thing about me, I never give up".

                Where the hell has that stuff gone? Does Dean have it? Maybe Clark, he could get it by osmosis if he's as close to Clinton as some say, but from what I've seen of the rest of them, nope.

        •  Get real (none)
          I can't stand Bush, and I rolled my eyes at his lame "I'm just looking for a hot meal" line.  But the reality is that it was a good thing to do, both politically and otherwise.  Criticising him for it looks like sour grapes, big time.

          Alan, Maverick Leftist "They laugh because they know they're untouchable, not because what I said was wrong." --Sinead O'Connor

          by SlackerInc on Fri Nov 28, 2003 at 03:41:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Re: Get real (none)
            It's good for the CinC to have Thanksgiving dinner with the troops. There are two negatives that people shouldn't overlook, though. The fly-by-night nature of the operation totally contradicts the sunny forecasts they were broadcasting earlier in the year. And if he's only willing to support the troops when he gets a monster photo-op out of it, he doesn't get much credit for the few times he does show support. Symbolic gestures are important, but if those are the only gestures you're offering, it's fair to point out that they're pretty empty on their own.
  •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
    The secretiveness of the trip until after he was gone was a wise move security-wise.  Supposedly he was invited by Sanchez.  My guess is that the 600 troops (a small fraction of total troops there) were carefully chosen.  Sanchez also supposedly arranged the warm greeting.  I am glad the president went although I do suspect his motives.  At least he is showing appreciation to the troops.  He needs to do more than this one-time gesture though.

    As for the difference between Iraq and Kosovo... one was bloodless for us and the other was not.  One was done specifically to stop a cruel dictator and his followers and the other was not... at least not until after the alleged WMDs that necessitated the rush to war never materialized.  One was headed by an American general who had a good exit plan and the other... One produced an American hero (Wes Clark's picture and likeness is common in Kosovo) to the people who were liberated and the other has produced anger and ceaseless casualties...

    •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
      I believe the 600 soldiers had signed up for a raffle to win a thanksgiiving dinner with Bremer. Not sure which was the draw...turkey or Bremer? But it probably was a little more appealing to soldiers still convinced of the rightness of Bush/Bremer policy. Rove marketing tactics in action.
  •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
    Big f---ing deal! The chimp flies into Baghdad under the cover of darkness to have a Turkey breakfast.
    The Iraq resisttance will take this as "Bring it on"  number two. In a few months the WH wil be trying to  hide this photo op just like Mission Accomplished, and the Dems will be using in their campaign ads.
    •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
      Yeah, showing President Bush being enthusiastically welcomed by 100s of troops and him thanking them for their service will work well in Democratic campaign ads. Yes, indeedy.

      I hate the smell of hypocrisy in the morning.

      by Mad Jayhawk on Thu Nov 27, 2003 at 11:02:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
        Wait a sec ... there's something like 143,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, and they only put Our National Disgrace in front of 600?  I mean, granted, it was a mess hall or whatever, but no cheering throngs of thousands of soldiers?  No triumphant speech about how well they have done since victory was declared?

        I can't imagine why Rove would have missed this golden opportunity to demonstrate the military's unified support of the "President."

        (What?  They don't support him en masse?  They thought more than 600 hand-picked soldiers might have shown more dissension in the ranks?  Oh, well, then, never mind.)

        "Secrecy and a free, democratic government don't mix." - Harry S Truman

        by Sinfonian on Fri Nov 28, 2003 at 12:43:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
          (What?  They don't support him en masse?  They thought more than 600 hand-picked soldiers might have shown more dissension in the ranks?  Oh, well, then, never mind.)

          Due to the pressures of time he was forced to forego visits to the more distant regions of Iraq. And daylight was coming...

          •  Daylight come (none)
            and me wanna go home...

            gotta get back in the coffin before it peeks over the horizon.

            •  Re: Daylight come (none)
              I'm a bartender in NYC and today I spoke with a communications expert who is flying to Baghdad tomorrow for his sixth trip in two months (being that he is English I expected him to be exceptionally anti-U.S.).

              So I asked him what was happening there in hopes of getting a true feel for the ground.  And you know what he said?

              That 99.5% of Iraqis are, not only extremely pleased, but rather, ecstatic that the U.S. did what it did.  And that it is too bad that the 00.5% of whatever+AlQueda are doing what they can do to disrupt things and try and scare America off.

              After reading the negative blather and hopeful pessimism around here, I FIND THAT I AM ECSTATIC MYSELF just to hear another point of view.

              I hate to be snarky, but it seems that there is a large bart of this contingent that is hoping for the Apocalypse for their own narrow ends.

              My advice is to keep hoping folks, the one specific to your partisan way of thought might just be coming.

              Nobody wants to be associated with a NEGATIVE, and, unfortunately, that's just what the LEFT has become.  

              P.S. Booing means you've already lost.

              •  Re: Daylight come (none)
                I hate to tell you this but when our troops entered Baghdad, a city of five million, there were only a few thousand people in the streets.  To me that doesn't equate to 99.5% of the people.  Also, if 99.5% of the Iraqi's were happy for what the U.S. has done then why can't they take over their own country and drive out those .5% themselves.  The truth is your drunken source is dead wrong and a few hundred dead American soldiers would back me up on that.

                "The opposite of courage is not cowardice, it's conformity."

                by Rakkassan on Fri Nov 28, 2003 at 11:36:23 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Re: Daylight come (none)
                  Why weren't there more in the streets?  One word: Baathists.  In every neighborhood there is/was a network of informers and party loyalists who keep/kept the people in line.  After the war it was extremely difficult to publicly assess the feelings of people who lived under such repressive conditions for 30 years.  It is understandable that some Iraqis resent the American presence.  Now, especially now, most welcome it until security is restored.  

                  The situation in Iraq will stabilize after the thugs involved in the attacks are tracked down and eliminated and more Iraqis are trained as policemen.  Security will be better if the Iraqis are policed by their own people and not by Americans.  It takes time.  It is a shame that the critics seem to forget this for political reasons.  There is a significant effort (mainly unreported for some reason) to build up the Iraqi security forces.

                  Remember this:  the only way for the thugs in Iraq to win is to cause the US troops to withdraw.  

                  The only way for the US troops to withdraw is for a Democrat to be elected in this country.  

                  The only way for a Democrat to be elected is for the thugs to keep killing innocent Iraqis, aid workers there to help their country, and Americans and hopefully, with their allies, scare people in this country into joining those who want to want the US to run and abandon the Iraqi people at their time of greatest need.

                  I hate the smell of hypocrisy in the morning.

                  by Mad Jayhawk on Tue Dec 02, 2003 at 11:00:30 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

  •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
    Uh Oh! He's dressing up like a soldier again. And so brave... Sneaking into Baghdad Airport, where everyone knows that the liberated masses would love to tear him limb from limb. Where did Karl Rove scrounge up 600 soldiers to cheer this wingnut that sent them to die for his oil buddies? Yeah sure, this was to honor the soldiers. Not a bit of it was political. Straight from the heart, "I've just got to say thanks to those wonderful guys. Fire up AF1, were off to Baghdad for Thanksgiving. OK, you can bring the network camera crews if you must. I just dare anybody to say this was a political stunt. Go on, I dare you. Nah nah na nah nah..."
    •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
      I think Fox was the only camera crew allowed.

      Nice to see Bush wearing a quasi-military uniform again...it's one of the early signs of fascism.

      •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
        You have to read how reporters typically cover the President's activities.  Each media group has a turn at covering the president each day. It is called the press pool I believe. It was Fox's turn that day to represent the pool.  The President can't have 500 reporters following him around all day.  All presidents did it this way as far as I know.  The pool reporters then write  up everything that happened (I believe this report was posted on Drudge)in detail and each reporter can then write their story from that detail.  The report I saw on Drudge even had a description of the napkin ring used on AF1.  Same with photography.  Maybe that's why sometimes there is a certain sameness to stories. Those reporters who complained about the press arrangements were probably just getting some kind of story out of it.  Everyone in the press evidently knows how it works.

        One interesting thing is that when the story first broke there was a picture of the president with his arm around a female soldier's shoulder and both were really laughing hard.  That picture has vanished.  I haven't been able to find it anywhere.  Now the story has a picture of President Bush carrying a turkey.  Why was that other picture removed by the media?  

        I cannot believe that the depths of nitpicking BS that some people engage in.  Only 600 troops!!  Only handpicked troops!!  Only pumpkin pie and not pecan!! Only paper napkins and not cloth ones!!

        Bush was not wearing a uniform.  He had on the unit's jacket.  Those are typically given to visiting dignitaries.  Clinton worn one all the time when he visited the troops.  Bush had on a jacket at Fort Carson too.  He wore a flight uniform during his landing on the USS Lincoln because he was flying in an military aircraft and took the controls at some point.  He is the CIC and can wear whatever he damn pleases.  Maybe he probably wanted to remember what it felt like to wear the thing.  Who knows or cares?  BFD.  Get the knot out of your panties.

        I hate the smell of hypocrisy in the morning.

        by Mad Jayhawk on Tue Dec 02, 2003 at 11:27:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
    Has anyone heard a response from Dean, Clark or Kerry about this PR stunt?
  •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
    Reuters says it is a surprise; I doubt that. The 600 were handpicked and forewarned. "Prepare to gasp. Gasp!"
    How about the thousands of soldiers that could not enjoy the holiday because they were up all night and day securing the area so no surprises could soil the presidential jumpsuit?
    The only grunts the administration cares about are heard around the feed trough.
    •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
      Ever notice that any time you see Bush speak to a crowd it's exclusively a crowd of military men and women? That's because they're more controllable than actual citizens. They won't protest their CIF for obvious reasons and can be relied upon not to disparage in any way. It also makes him look oh-so-powerful.

      There was an excellent article in last October's Harper's making this very point, and I have been watching closely ever since. It's true.

      Seems rather dictatorial to me (perhaps due to my Canadian perspective?)  I don't recall if Clinton did the same.

      •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
        In the American system of government the President is the leader of his political party therefore everything he does is political.  He has a dual role as leader of the American people and his party.  

        Presidents go to places that make them look good and where they can do good.  They represent the American people.  Clinton was the king of the photo ops and was all over the place.  All presidents are. Remember when Clinton took a poll about where he should take a vacation and what he should wear?  He went to Idaho or Montana and went fly fishing because that is what the poll told him to do. It made him look normal. He never probably fished a day in his life prior to that or since.  Is that bad?  Not really. It probably helped him politically somehow. President Bush has asked the military to do some difficult things and it is natural for him to thank them.  

        People criticize Bush for landing on a carrier.  The media interviews pointy headed professional interviewees and not the people involved.  Did you ever see an interview with a sailor or Marine on the USS Lincoln about what they thought of the landing?  Of course not.  And you won't either.  I would bet that 95% of the military people loved it whether it was politically motivated or not.  Just like the President's gesture today.

        I hate the smell of hypocrisy in the morning.

        by Mad Jayhawk on Fri Nov 28, 2003 at 12:21:57 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
          i wonder how much the air force officers aboard af1 'loved' this stunt. i'm no pilot, but i'm pretty sure flying in w/o lights in the dark isn't standard. sounds like something done to avoid getting missiles shot at the plane...like the ones that hit the DHL flight the other day. cus it ain't like they won't go after a high profile target like wolfowitz with a couple dozen rockets.
          •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
            a couple of days ago on abc news there was a report on two pilots with 53 years of flying time between them who may be court martialled. they are flying vips and the governing council around iraq in those small planes (gulf streams or cessna) which aren't fitted with any protection against the sams. they were quoted in one of the defense magazines and DoD cracked the whip. made me want to puke...  
             
  •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
    this looks like a job for General Clark.

    If I wrote his speeches:

    "I am appalled by the recklessness of this campaign stunt.  What purpose was served by putting the crew of Airforce 1, the secret service, and civilian reporters into harms way?"

    "What better victory could we have handed our opponents in Iraq, than to have scored a hit on Airforce One?"

    "He is not candidate Bush, he is the Commander in Chief the most powerful military force on the planet.   He risked not only his own life, not only the lives of those travelling with him, but the success of our mission in Iraq and the security of the world..all for the sake of a photo opportunity."

    Of all forms of tyranny the least attractive and the most vulgar is the tyranny of mere wealth, the tyranny of plutocracy. --Theodore Roosevelt

    by uri on Thu Nov 27, 2003 at 08:41:52 PM PST

    •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
      Clark supporters should be glad you don't write his speeches, because this one would go over like a lead balloon.

      The proper way to criticize Bush's trip is to point out that it is too little support for the troops. He does a nice photo op, and I'm sure it did improve the morale of many of those who saw him (close contact with a president tends to be an exciting and uplifting experience).

      However, this visit does nothing to change the fact that Bush has supported reducing combat pay, veteran's benefits, etc., or that he has refused to add the necessary number of soldiers to do the job in Iraq purely because he doesn't want to admit he made a mistake when he claimed it was the right number months ago. Those are the angles of attack, IMO.

      •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
        Chris Lehane is quoted in a WashPost piece...

        http://www.msnbc.com/news/998890.asp?0cv=CA00

        "It's absolutely appropriate to be honoring our soldiers overseas in battle on a day like Thanksgiving," he said. "It's more important to honor them every day, which includes allowing us to appropriately honor the heroes who come back in caskets and giving our troops a strategy so they're not there next Thanksgiving."

  •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
    Being an old fart, Bush II's Thanksgiving reminds me of LBJ's Christmas Viet Nam visit.  

    I actually for the first couple of years thought Bush II was another Reagan. However, my thinking and feelings turned 180 degrees when he rushed head long ahead and invaded Iraq while the 4th Division was still being diverted from Turkey to Kuwait. Only after that did I read about PNAC and other ideological radicals in the Administration. Now, I'm so disgusted with the Bush II Administration that anything they do is done in their desperate need to be re-elected in 2004.

  •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (3.88)
    At least George W. Bush had the gall to do it. He might be an imbecile, a moron, a dimwit, and a buffoon but to his supporters, he is a likable buffoon.

    Not to sound self-righteous, condescending, and sanctimonious, as one who has worked for several Democratic campaigns at all levels from national to local -- and always incurring substantial personal expense and opportunity cost to do so -- it bothers me that our candidates are often timid, conventional, and not given to taking risks. Instead of embracing unprecedented domestic prosperity, a significant improvement in several social indices, and relative peace abroad, our last presidential candidate (I speak as one who worked his tail off for him) did not take a "damn the torpedoes" approach. Oh, where Al Gore would have been had he had the balls to show a bit more political courage in the 2000 Election!

    For some (particularly the Greens and Ralph Nader), Bill Clinton may have been too moderate, not ideologically pure enough, and perhaps even compromised by his corporate supporters but, he was, after FDR, the only Democratic president to serve two full terms in the last century. Most presidents are either good at mastering the details of policy minutiae or interpersonal/political skills; rarely, if ever, one combined it as brilliantly as Clinton. He was, when all is said and done and looking back at all the presidents of the 20th century, perhaps the best combination of politics and policy since Teddy Roosevelt.  

    Bush's visit to Iraq simply reinforces my belief that timidity is not going to get us anywhere in the next election. We must be for something. We cannot always oppose Bush but to offer clear-headed policy alternatives. For those of us with degrees from fancy schools and the ability to have some basic level of mastery over the English language, we cannot deride Bush for being linguistically challenged. We must be positive, optimistic, and above all, daring. If we reside on the liberal coasts and not live in 'flyover country,' we cannot look down upon 'Middle America.' After all, only about one in four adult Americans has a 4-year college degree. What else, as one political sage observed long ago, do blue-collar, working class Americans have other than patriotism and love of country? Are they endowed with wealth? No. Do they have a sophisticated understanding of issues? Maybe not. Why can't we, as Democrats of all stripes, regain their political support, trust and confidence? We've done so in the past. If we Democrats don't stand up for social and economic justice, who will? Surely not the Republicans.  

    I have chosen my candidate (Richard Gephardt) in the primaries. I've said so in previous posts. I support him financially and will work hard to get him nominated. Will I go work for another candidate if Gephardt isn't nominated? Of course. Do I sound bitter? Perhaps a little bit. Does looking at Bush in Iraq make me angry? You bet. Do I fault him for being politically opportunistic? No. It might be time to look at ourselves in the mirror.  

    •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
      Your post says it all.  Democrats have a communication problem.  Republicans have been effective in communicating a message and associating themselves with that message in ways that resonate in many people.  What anyone who wants change to occur must do is find a way to promote the Democratic agenda so that it appears superior to the other side.  And not condescending. And not apologetic.  If your a Democrat be proud of it and tell other people.  But don't demonize George for being the puppet we know he is, because that will do nothing but alienate those on the fence.
      I live in a Red county and I don't hesitate to dispute Bush policies with any and all and have been able to engage with many people who don't share my beliefs.  But the discussion has value if it plants the seed of critical thinking.  Every rock thrown in pond makes a ripple.  

      Its harder to be for something than it is to be against something...

      by lapin on Fri Nov 28, 2003 at 12:08:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  A little history, if you please... (none)
      Woodrow Wilson served two full terms from 1913-1921.  He was a Democrat.  Harry Truman ascended to the Presidency 5 weeks after FDR was inaugurated for his fourth term.  In essence, HST served two terms.

      It is interesting that you criticize Democratic candidates for not taking risk and choose Dick Gephardt to back.

      •  Re: A little history, if you please... (none)
        I thought that supporting Gephardt was a little ironic also, but thought it bad manners to point out after such a good post. But now that you mention it...

        I would only add that I don't think that any of the candidates fail to heed his point that we need a positive message. Even Dean, at whom I assume the comment was directed, spends more time now emphasizing various policy proposals, the empowerment of citizens, and other matters than he does going after Bush. Not to turn this into another Dean/anti-Dean discussion, but he's also surely the best so far at taking bold steps forward in this campaign.

      •  Re: A little history, if you please... (none)
        Phil S,

        Thanks for your comments. I am intimately familiar with the presidencies of Woodrow Wilson and Harry Truman, having written numerous papers on different aspects of their presidencies as well as my two graduate school theses on their major foreign policy initiatives. I should also mention that I have a great deal of respect for their approach to foreign policy -- both from a theoretical and substantive perspective.  

        I believe I wrote that Bill Clinton served two full terms among all the Democratic presidents after FDR which means, as you well know, that Jimmy Carter, Lyndon Johnson, John Kennedy, and Harry Truman did not. I gather, after reading some of your other postings, that you're a passionate Howard Dean supporter. I respect that. I'm going to refrain from criticizing Dean or say anything negative about any of the other candidates. In fact, tactically, I think Dean has run an excellent campaign so far. If indeed he is the eventual nominee, I would have no hesitation in supporting him.

        As to why I chose Richard Gephardt, the reasons are numerous. Among them, I like and respect the man; who he speaks for; where he is from; his message; and believe strongly that he is best-suited to oust the incumbent. The conventional wisdom is that, under Gephardt's leadership, the House Democrats could not win the House back in four attempts... even though they did gain seats in three of those four elections. However, serving as parliamentary leader, where he had to reconcile conflicting opinions amongst disparate groups of Democrats -- unlike the more ideologically homogeneous Republicans -- is not the same as when Gephardt decided to run independently for an executive position. And, free of all such restraints. No wonder there is a growing belief among many (excluding most Kossacks, I'm fairly sure) that strategically, Gephardt is the most credible Democratic challenger to George Bush in the general election.  

        There is, however, always the possibility that I could be wrong.  :)  

         

        •  Re: A little history, if you please... (none)
          Clinton ... was, after FDR, the only Democratic president to serve two full terms in the last century.

          As you can see, your wording is open to more than one interpretation. One might read is that "Clinton, after FDR, was the only Dem POTUS to serve two full terms in the last century." In this reading "after" = "besides" and leaves the reader to interpret "the last century" as the period from 1901-2000.

          Since you meant the only Dem POTUS since FDR to serve two full terms (although Truman was essentially a two-term POTUS and I probably would have pointed that out, being the stinker I am), it would have been clearer to write just that and leave out the phrase "the last century".  I apologize if I stepped on any toes.

          I wouldn't say I'm a passionate Dean supporter.  Howie has his warts.  What I am passionate about is the promise of the Dean campaign's effect on the process and that Howie has the backbone to take it to Dubya. In fact, my second choice today would be Gep.  But that's because he's shown some backbone, too, of late - after Howie showed it was safe to do so. ;-)

          •  Re: A little history, if you please... (none)
            Good points. But hey, I wrote that after a heavy dose of turkey 'n stuffings, wine, football, and... don't get me started on the relatives!  :)

            Glad to hear that you too think highly of Gephardt.  

      •  Re: A little history, if you please... (none)
        I abandoned my support of Gep after finding out he voted for the flag burning amendment.  But I disagree with the notion that he's not a risk taker.  Opposing his president on NAFTA, proposing an international minimum wage, backing a repeal of all Bush tax cuts for an extremely ambitious national health care plan that even Dean says is too much...those aren't safe positions.  Nor, ironically, was it safe for him to support the $87 billion for Iraq in light of the political climate in must-win (for him) Iowa.

        Alan, Maverick Leftist "They laugh because they know they're untouchable, not because what I said was wrong." --Sinead O'Connor

        by SlackerInc on Fri Nov 28, 2003 at 03:35:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
      Bush's visit to Iraq simply reinforces my belief that timidity is not going to get us anywhere in the next election.

      Excellent post. I join with the others in wondering how Gephardt fits in. Do you think that without the Dean campaign, Gephardt would ever have managed to say "miserable failure"?

      If Gore had sent some of his Miami supporters to finish off the Brooks Brothers rioters, he'd be President today. I didn't notice the Democratic leadership, including Gephardt, trying to stiffen his spine there.

      •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
        jd in nyc and Andrew Lazarus,

        Both of you made some excellent points. Thanks.

        I thought that supporting Gephardt was a little ironic also...
        Notwithstanding personality, style, and temperament, Gephardt's health care proposal is, by far, the single most boldest idea of the campaign to date. While Dean is certainly a passionate individual, his policy proposals are, at best, cautious and incremental.

        Even Dean, at whom I assume the comment was directed...
        I wasn't directing my comments as much against Dean as reflecting upon past experiences. I really don't have anything against the good doctor.

        Do you think that without the Dean campaign, Gephardt would ever have managed to say "miserable failure"?
        Probably not. Then again, I'm sure the Dean folks have learnt a thing or two from Gephardt's Campaign. Imitation in politics is not unheard of. Joe Trippi, after all, worked for the 1988 Gephardt Campaign.

        If Gore had sent some of his Miami supporters to finish off the Brooks Brothers rioters, he'd be President today. I didn't notice the Democratic leadership, including Gephardt, trying to stiffen his spine there.
        I don't necessarily disagree with you. Conventional post-Florida Recount wisdom was correct: the Gore Team's approach focussed mostly on the legal aspects of the dispute. Republicans, on the other hand, saw this not only as a legal but, equally so, as a political struggle. This "Bourgeois Riot" (I think Paul Gigot of the WSJ coined that term) was a naked power grab. Having been involved in that montrosity (the so-called "Florida Irregularities") and taking everything into consideration, having one more sympathetic US Supreme Court justice would have made the difference. One way or another, that is what it was eventually going to come down to! Having a younger brother as Florida Governor and a Democratic operative as Florida Secretary of State wouldn't have hurt Al Gore either. Now, I don't completely absolve Gore. He was the one directing strategy and, at a minimum, should have won his home state of Tennessee. Then, the above is irrelevant.

    •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
      He was, when all is said and done and looking back at all the presidents of the 20th century, perhaps the best combination of politics and policy since Teddy Roosevelt.

      I've got to take one more shot. Clinton's policies were ruinous for the Democratic Party - that is, if you want the part to be something other than the Eisenhower Republicans. He won two terms for himself, but lost both the House and Senate a mere two years into his first term (and from which we've yet to recover), and presided over the loss of half of the Democratic governorships we held when he took office. His supposed crowning policy jewel - welfare reform - has been a disaster on the ground (my wife is a social worker)and was nothing more than rank political opportunism.

      This supposed political master comes into Washington wih only a plurality of the popular vote and immediately fires off the two most controversial guns of his Presidency - gays in the military and universal health care. This before he had consolidated his power base in DC, made nice with his party members in Congress or established any sort of mandate from the people. To top it off, he puts the ever-popular Hilary in charge of the health care package. Ten years later we're no closer to universal health care than when he took office. And this is your best combination of politics and policy since Teddy?

      Democratic presidents who were better than Bill at both politics and policy:

      LBJ
      JFK
      HST
      FDR
      and even Woodrow Wilson and that takes into account the myopic arrogance of Versailles.

      God, how I wish the Clintons and all their hangers-on would just go away.  Please, the party begs you.

       

  •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (3.00)
    It was a shameless gimmick, but the pictures I saw on CNN International showed the soldiers cheering and looking pleasantly surprised, incuding some nice shots of a "diverse" crowd of clapping/cheering soldiers front and center in the shot, which will no doubt be played over and over again replacing the aircraft landing stunt.  

    Steve Soto has the right spin on it - Bush had to creep into Baghdad like a thief in the night. Although the BBC spun it as reminscient of "James Bond" mission (yuck), the reporters engaged in a "but doesn't Bush have a lot of ground to make in the polls" and "yes that is right he has been on the slide", which I thought was interesting considering on CNN's NewsNight the other night the discussion was about how great Bush looks for re-election.  

    Jingoistic Americans eat crap like this up with all the fixins'

     

    "If we don't get Iraq right in time," fretted one National Security Council official, "we could lose the election."

    by jg on Thu Nov 27, 2003 at 09:23:56 PM PST

    •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
      Steve Soto has the right spin on it - Bush had to creep into Baghdad like a thief in the night. Although the BBC spun it as reminscient of "James Bond" mission (yuck), the reporters engaged in a "but doesn't Bush have a lot of ground to make in the polls" and "yes that is right he has been on the slide"

      This is a good point. This might play well to the 'merican market but internationally it may be detrimental to shrubCo. It makes them look afraid.

      Now, if he'd swooped in on an announced visit and swaggered out of the airplane in broad daylight it would have been a true "John Wayne" moment for him. As it is it's more of a weaselly gesture.

  •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
    It's amazing how Bush cannot gain any sort of ground in anything he does unless it is based upon secrecy, ruses, lying and a compliant media.  "Fly-by-night" indeed.

    But his opponents are just going to have to bite their tongues and take the hit.  This is the power of the presidential bully pulpit and the power of the fawning media.  The opposition just going to have to deal with it.

    I do get the sense that this trip would never have happened (nor would his dreadful Iowa ad have happened) if it didn't absolutely have to -- e.g., if the Democrats weren't driving the debate these days.

    •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
      But his opponents are just going to have to bite their tongues and take the hit.

      I don't know...

      Clark,Dean or Kerry could go over there,spend a few days in strong daylight, and make a mockery of this stunt.

      •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
        i worry about dean's security in the US. i really don't want him going to a war zone.

        i'm not saying there would be a conspiracy to point a stray rpg his way or anything. just be damn convenient if it happened, wouldn't it.

    •  Constructing the debate (none)
      The opposition, mostly the blogosphere and a few media people turned the carrier stunt into crap, with the help of some Iraqis, we can do the same with this.

      Labelling Bush just exactly as you have, "fly by night" is a great start, it plays to the facts, the style, the whole Bush thing, great thinking.

      Throw in Hillary and some others in Iraq, doing a Princess Di, visiting hospitals where the maimed victims of US warfare are being treated, visiting schools, mosques, listening to the Mullahs and so forth and you have the start of a tactic.

      Act well, do the right thing, push it to the limit and force Bush to take ever bigger risks to respond. Keep him jumping and control the agenda.

      It can be done, dean is doing it to the contenders, the Dems can do it to Bush. Even those who don't "get" the cause, will see the little flea hopping about and get dizzy.

  •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (1.00)
    A couple of comments:

    I resent the comment ("Instead, they get to stay behind and take incoming on behalf of the president's reelection bid.") that suggests that soldiers are being kept in Iraq and exposed to danger to further President Bush's political goals.  The logical corollary to that vile statement is that you hope troops are killed to prevent President Bush from reaching his political goals. That is totally disgusting but unfortunately it is getting more and more typical of the desperate and delusional liberal left. Everyone knows that everything a president, any president, does is political and can be looked at in that light but analysis here goes beyond that.  

    Bush is a leader and understands leadership.  This trip is an excellent example of that fact. Soto says it was a subdued welcome for President Bush.  Hardly.  There was thunderous applause from the troops for their Commander in Chief just like at Fort Carson and on the USS Lincoln.  The troops were crowding around to have their pictures taken with him. He was talking and hugging the troops.  To even imply that the troops do not like this man is totally ignorant.  If the media could find troops that disliked him as much as the people on this thread do you would see one of them on the news every night.

    I read President Clinton's remarks to the troops in Kosovo.  Read them yourself.  His visit was part of one of many trips to Europe.  The remarks do not include even a pat on the back for the troops but did include egomaniacal pats on the back for himself ("Let me also say that I was very honored -- I've got four members of the Congress here who voted for this, but I was very honored to sign the legislation which raised the pay and improved the retirement of members of the military. (Applause.)" )and instructions to them on how to do their job. You can tell that the man knew that the military hated him.  It was just another political speech for him and not a message from their leader that their country loved them and appreciated what they were doing.  Sad.  To compare the welcome President Bush got from the troops and what Clinton said to them in Kosovo is ridiculous.

    Looking at the scripted pictures of HRC sitting down with 50 selected troops (not serving them as good leaders do, no hugging, no pictures, no thanking them, etc) made me wonder if she was really welcomed.  In the pictures I saw, most of the troops near her at the dinner had their backs to her while she talked to a female officer. It reminded me of the time an Honor Guard turned its back on Clinton on purpose at some welcoming ceremony.  They know she hates the military and that she has her entire life.  The contrast between her pathetic political visit to the President's is stark.  Her visit wasn't even mentioned on Aljazeera.net while President Bush's was the main story.

    I hate the smell of hypocrisy in the morning.

    by Mad Jayhawk on Thu Nov 27, 2003 at 10:53:46 PM PST

    •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
      Yes the only reason the troops are in Iraq is to support the Neocon political agenda and the profits of Halliburton.
      Bush could give a shit about how many have died or will die to support his reelection campaign. They are just cannon fodder to him and the Neocons.
    •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
      Were you Emily Latilla in a previous life?

      "Never mind!"

      "Magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom; and a great empire and little minds go ill together." - Edmund Burke

      by JJB on Fri Nov 28, 2003 at 12:06:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
      I noticed that the speech Bush gave to the troops in Baghdad was one I'd heard him give at least one other time in another venue.  Couldn't even come up with something original for this "historic" trip to Iraq. Sad, but not surprising.

      This president is only about politics and power, not the least bit about what is good for the American people, much less our troops fighting and dying in Iraq. Very sad, and tragically, with what I've seen in the past few years, not at all surprising.

      "Be isolated, be ignored, be attacked, be in doubt, be frightened, but do not be silenced." Bertrand Russell

      by lee brown on Fri Nov 28, 2003 at 12:22:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
      You don't seem to understand logic.  It is possible to think that Bush has been overly motivated by political concerns in making decisions on Iraq, including keeping soldiers in harm's way, without "the logical corollary" being "that you hope troops are killed to prevent President Bush from reaching his political goals."  Likewise, lots of people know that bad economic news is bad for Bush's reelection prospects, but do not hope for bad economic news.  There are lots of people who are less craven and cynical than Bush and his administration, but fully able to recognize Bush's cynicism.  Logic is neither here nor there on that. But you sure seem to have picked up the bullying habits of the Bush administration's reasoning quite well.
    •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
      And they say satire is dead! You've got that moronic brownshirt fuck script down pat, pal... keep up the good work!
    •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
      where did you see the hillary clip? faux? the bbc have some good coverage. shaking hands, laughing it up with a male soldier, taking a photograph, eating a meal, chatting with to Kazai? and some others in a room, etc... grant it, they didn't spend 4 minutes on it but she didn't make an idiot of herself and the soldiers weren't recoiling from her.

      my wife, who disagrees with hillary often said she looked kind of stupid wearing a turtleneck with that necklace on the outside. what you saw sounds like someone's talking points. the woman sits on the armed services committee. she is in a position to help our ny bases & soldiers. she can't hate the military as much as you hate her.

    •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
      Well, Troll Jayhawk, here are some things you should know.
      1. The Marine Corps disrespect story made it to snopes.com Urban Legends site.
      2. When Clinton went to Kosovo (a trip announced in advance), he met the Kosovars, who cheered him mightily. Did Bush meet Iraqis? Don't think so.
      3. Hey, at least Hillary doesn't hide.
      I think it's fine President Bush went to Iraq for the troops, but it hardly makes his strategy there any more (or for that matter less) successful.

      And despite the fact your post was just meant as a troll, I want to credit you for one other correct point: Bush does understand a certain kind of leadership. You see it in the way he constantly outfoxes the Democrats in Congress. You see it in his over-the-top tax cuts and his Iraq Disaster. The problem is that while you applaud him as bold and audacious, I see someone terribly reckless. We will all pay a price, including, one hopes, him.

    •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (2.00)
      Um Bush a leader? LMAO man.. where to start

      First: the GOP has started SEVERAL wars to win elections. Thats right homeboy spilled american blood to further their political goals. Panama, Grenada, Iraq I, Iraq II. Heard of them?

      Second: Bush is a DESERTER. A coward. Do you understand DESERTER? Do i need to explain it to your small trollish mind?

      Third: Bush is a Coward. See "second"

      Fourth: The military was Behind Clinton on Kosovo. Of course republican  chickenhawk asses wouldnt understand that as they are terrified of walking the walk. You may note the people of Kosovo Cheered Bill Clinton when he went back. do some research you moronic troll.

      Fifth: George W. Bush is a TRAITOR to his country. He is actively protecting the traitors in his cabinet who outed an a CIA Operations officer for political gain. In addition he is blocking the investigation into 9/11.

      Sixth: The cabinet were actively making notes on 9/11 on how to use it to justify invading Iraq. do some research you moronic troll.

      Seventh: George W Bush is a Traitor. He shielded the Bin Ladin family from FBI questioning and shipped them out of the country immediately after 9/11. do some research you moronic troll.

      Eighth: George W. Bush is Corrupt. he is protecting Ken Ley after Ley funneled large amounts of cash into his election campaign. Wanna guess where that money came from? do some research you moronic troll.

      In case you arent sure of my opinion of ethically challenged hipocrits like yourself i'd be happy to clear up any fuzzy points at your leisure.

  •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (3.25)
    As obnoxious as this whole photo-op stunt is, don't think we'll be able to use this against Bush the way we can use "Mission Accomplished" against him.

    In this case, Bush did the right thing. The wrong way, and for the wrong reasons, but fundamentally it was the right thing.

    The beauty of Mission Accomplished was that it was the WRONG thing, the wrong way, for the wrong reasons.

    Let him have his photo op. It won't save him, in the end.

    Dean is the messenger. WE are the message.

    by Radical Middle on Fri Nov 28, 2003 at 12:01:06 AM PST

  •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
    Maybe now he'll get around to going to a couple of funerals.

    "Magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom; and a great empire and little minds go ill together." - Edmund Burke

    by JJB on Fri Nov 28, 2003 at 12:07:39 AM PST

    •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
      Careful what you wish for. I have a feeling he will be visiting LOTS of funerals during this election cycle.

      God knows there will be enough of them coming up for him to visit.

  •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
    I think a crucial point here is that the administration is undermining the ability of opposition to criticize them.  GDP up - speech to troops at Ft Carson - visit with families of dead soldiers there - showing camraderie with troops in Iraq - medicare reform.  All symbolic victories.  Plamegate. Secret energy policy meeting with felons. Lying about WMD in Iraq.  All these sleazy administration actions and more slowly losing meaning to the electorate as the events become more historic than relevant.    Slowly, the pillars supporting the criticism are being eroded and disappear.  

    These people are scary.

    By the way, I submitted my draft board app this week.  

    Its harder to be for something than it is to be against something...

    by lapin on Fri Nov 28, 2003 at 12:25:59 AM PST

  •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (3.66)
    Here's a question: why is it so dangerous in Iraq that the only visit Bush can make is in the dead of night on a holiday and then leave immediately?

    That would indicate there are severe security problems in the country, wouldn't it.

  •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
    A Defining Moment in A War and Presidency

     Three images tell the story of George W. Bush's presidency.

    The first, of Bush and bullhorn atop the rubble at New York's Ground Zero on Sept. 14, 2001, came to symbolize his transformation into a powerful wartime president. The second, of Bush in flight suit with "Mission Accomplished" banner aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, became the symbol of Bush's unrealized optimism about the U.S. military's victory in Iraq.

    Yesterday, Nov. 27, 2003, brought an equally vivid but more complex image of Bush. His stealthy landing in Baghdad on Thanksgiving Day portrayed a leader well aware of the chaotic and dangerous situation in Iraq but determined to assure the Iraqi people that the United States will not, as he has put it, "cut and run."

    While the troops cheered the moment, it is too soon to know whether the image of Bush in his Army jacket yesterday will become a symbol of strong leadership or a symbol of unwarranted bravado.

    Iraqis may be reassured that the United States will put down the insurgency and restore order in their country. Or they may take the image of Bush landing unannounced at night without lights and not venturing from a heavily fortified military installation as confirmation that the security situation in Iraq is dire indeed.

    (...)

    This is a reasonable thing for Junior to do, but the under-wraps part of the visit (confined to base, landing under cover of darkness with no lights) is striking and likely to outlast the few days of positive press (such as it is, with both the WaPo and Times (UK) noting how this was done out of weakness, not strength).

  •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
    Wag the fucking dog. Its all wag the fucking dog with this guy.
  •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
    Whatever. I just can't get all worked up about this. Whether the motivations were pure or political, this is the kind of thing Presidents (and other politicians) do. Take advantage of an opportunity to look good. Pure and simple.

    This was actually the first time I ever actually thought anything along the lines of  "Good job." since this idiot has been in office. Something like this was the least he could do. I actually think it was an admirable move, I'm just sorry he will get far too much political mileage out if it.

    Of course, this really isn't the impressive or brave act that it will be portrayed as, either. Flying in unannounced, under cover of darkness, and leaving before anyone knows your there is hardly the stuff of legend.

    I honestly don't think he should have left the base or stuck around for a personal Blackhawk tour of the area, it is obviously far too risky.

    I just wonder how he'll get to come home and crow about the progress going on there and how great everything is in the New Iraq if its too dangerous for him to see for himself.

    Oh, I forgot. No one in the media will draw that parallel...

    "I'm so mad, I'm bulletproof!"

    by Mr Furious on Fri Nov 28, 2003 at 02:12:35 AM PST

    •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
      I agree with you that it was good for him to do something for the troops, while of course he would use it for political gain.  We complain here that Bush doesn't go to funerals.  But if he did, we would complain that he is using the funeral for political purposes.  It's all true, everything he does is political, but there are still some things that he should do, like visit troops, attend funerals, and comfort the wounded.  It's too bad he doesn't do more of it, since he is the one who brought this on them.

      It's also true that the troops were probably glad to see him.  If you're stuck in a shithole like Iraq, any kind of diversion would be welcome, and a PRESIDENT offering words of encouragement would make you feel better.  You might not even like the guy, but you'd be glad he was there.

      It's also true that this visit made it apparent how terrible the situation is in Iraq.  The advance secrecy, no lights on the plane, fast in and out, all of it.  He didn't dare do it publicly.  Says a lot.

      So is this good or bad for Bush?  Who knows, but I think more good than bad, because he should be doing things like this and people know it.  But does he appear brave?  Not like this.

      Democrats: the party of security, infrastructure, and rights

      by Katydid on Fri Nov 28, 2003 at 03:21:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
        Well you obviously were never in uniform. (thats not a dis merely an observation).

        So those of you who never were will understand. Soldiers HATE political visits. They hate speeches.
        If i may explain:

        When a muckety much shows up.. or a general wants to give a speach.. or the Colonel is bored and wants to  make the whole bloody Battalion suffer...

        You all form up on a field somewhere. Then you stand there and wait an hour or two for the potentate to show up. You all dress right etc, stand at attention when they walk in and at parade rest while they recite the crap you could really give a shit about. Then the sub-potentates do their bs.. you go through the rituals.. Attention, right face, march out yada yada.

        Sooo you just spent two or three hours standing out in the heat waiting for some ass who felt the need to use you for a photo-op or who wanted to make himself feel important. Someone who you know could honestly give a flying shit about your or anybody there.

        Dont get the idea the 'troops' love this shit. They dont. Send Britney Spears to iraq. The troops would LOVE that. Send Snoop dog. Send Garth Brooks. Send Toby Keith. Send Shania.. THAT will make the troops happy. Not some pissant deserter frat boy trying to look good while a Brigade pulls  guard duty to protect his butt.

        •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
          You're right about soldiers hating "dog and pony shows", especially front line troops. The general feeling is that it takes time away from more important missions (or training in peacetime).

          I think that's why TPTB decided to make this seem so impromptu. Not only to avoid the insurgent guerillas (their clever traps take time to prepare), but also to make Bush appear less managed.

          Note, however, that the accent is on appearances. He cares less about the troops as he does about the next election. The reason he appears so dull isn't because he doesn't comprehend, but because he doesn't care. He has a bad case of "birthright mentality".

        •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
          You're right, I didn't know this.  I was trying to explain why the troops would have welcomed him, but of course, they welcomed him because they had to.  It would be impossible to know their true feelings.  I was trying to see the possible positives (even though I'd like to think they all hate him by now).    

          Are there really no circumstances under which the troops would welcome a potentate visit?

          Democrats: the party of security, infrastructure, and rights

          by Katydid on Fri Nov 28, 2003 at 09:17:17 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Buffoon in Baghdad. (none)
    In the coming weeks this stunt will be seen by the American public for what is really was.

    A weak and affable buffoon of a President making a stealthy stage managed visit to Baghdad (including the  "I was standing along side the pilots in the cockpit when we were landing at BIA becuase it was the most dangerous moment" bit).

    At least we have to be thankful that the soldiers had a quiet thanksgiving in Iraq.
     

    "Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people" - Oscar Wilde xxxxxxxx"All great truths begin as blasphemies" - GB Shaw

    by RationalMan on Fri Nov 28, 2003 at 02:21:57 AM PST

  •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
    If only Karl Rove would put the kind of energy and meticulous planning into the economy or mediating the Israel/Palestine conflict or rebuilding our shredded alliances with Europe as he did with this two-hour paid political advertisement for Bush's re-election campaign, we'd all be a lot safer and more secure today.
    •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
      It will never happen, because Israelis and Europeans don't vote in US elections. It's what I hate most about this administration; it only cares about itself and getting elected, not about the people it is supposed to represent.
  •  Re: "Unprecedented" trip to Iraq? (none)
    How long before the conspiracy theorists decide that, like the Moon landings, the Iraq trip didn't really happen? AirForce 1 just took off, flew around for a while, landed at a remote base in Arizona or Diego Garcia or somewhere for a staged turkey dinner ...

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