November 27, 2003

George W. Bush Gets It Right

George W. Bush goes to the right place for Thanksgiving dinner:

Yahoo! News - Bush Makes Surprise Visit to Baghdad : ...Bartlett said it was appropriate for the president to visit troops on Thanksgiving.... The president had slipped away from his Texas ranch in an unmarked vehicle and was driven to a nearby airport, where he climbed aboard Air Force One on the back stairs rather than the front.... The plane stopped at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., outside Washington, to pick up a few aides and four reporters and a camera crew sworn to secrecy. Five photographers and another reporter accompanied him from Texas after being summoned just hours before his departure.... Bush spent about two and a half hours on the ground, limiting his visit to the airport dinner with U.S. forces.

Posted by DeLong at November 27, 2003 11:05 AM | TrackBack

Comments

I just went to the Boeing Museum of Flight here in Seattle, and I learned a little tidbit (which you probably already knew, Brad, but it was new to me): Air Force One is not a particular plane. It's any Air Force plane that has the President aboard.

Posted by: Walt Pohl on November 27, 2003 11:31 AM

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he actually did something right...I will be shivering in the dark, praying to Cthulhu.


Posted by: bryan on November 27, 2003 11:55 AM

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This trip was right. Now, I wish to get the soldiers home.

Posted by: lise on November 27, 2003 02:30 PM

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I think that the moral of the troops is at a quite low level.That's why it was absolutely necessary to get there.Still,the question I'm asking myself is:why did the soldiers have a dinner with plastic forks and knives?Security measures?

Posted by: Gnao on November 27, 2003 02:58 PM

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Plastic utensils are not unusual for such events.

Posted by: Steven Rogers on November 27, 2003 03:58 PM

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The president deserves praise for this visit.

Right up until the day film of it is used for a political commercial.

Posted by: Charles on November 27, 2003 04:04 PM

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I agree with Charles, with the added comment that to further do the right thing Bush might think about attending a soldier's funeral or three.

Posted by: Jonathan on November 27, 2003 05:59 PM

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Almost as amazing as Dubya doing the right thing is his critics giving him credit for it.

Posted by: derrida derider on November 27, 2003 06:04 PM

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Nice PR stunt. Idiots will thing it says something.

Posted by: JoJo on November 27, 2003 06:25 PM

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thing = think. Sorry for the typo.

Posted by: JoJo on November 27, 2003 06:27 PM

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Derrida,
Perhaps now you will reconsider the ad-hominem right wing propaganda (into which you've obviously bought) regarding Bush's critics. If so, I think you'll be amazed to find that most of us actually dislike Bush because of his policies and actions.

Then again, maybe not. Even a little cursory reading of the more prominent material critical of Bush would have led you to the same conclusion already.

You really can fool some of the people all the time. Especially when they really, really want to believe something...

Posted by: Jonathan on November 27, 2003 07:01 PM

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I think it was a PR stunt, clear and simple. If they don't use it in campaign commercials, then maybe it was legit. Fat chance.

Posted by: JWC on November 27, 2003 07:24 PM

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notice Drudge headline right-wing bias:
Hillary Visit Overshadowed
Is there any doubt that Bush was hastily rushed to Iraq as a counter-measure to Sen. Clinton's Thanksgiving week visit to Afghanistan?

Posted by: cj on November 27, 2003 07:30 PM

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Of course it had its political function, cj. He may well have done the right thing for the wrong reason.

That is, however, a start.

Posted by: Charles on November 27, 2003 07:48 PM

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charles> That is, however, a start.
nah. How much you wanna bet the Bush trip is entirley due to Rove is mad that the Clinton staff thought of visiting the troops before he did?
Bush does what he's told.

Posted by: cj on November 27, 2003 08:23 PM

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CJ said:
"Is there any doubt that Bush was hastily rushed to Iraq as a counter-measure to Sen. Clinton's Thanksgiving week visit to Afghanistan?"

Are you an idiot?

Why, Yes, there is. Firstly, the Press...amazingly..has given little notice to HRH's visit to Southwest Asia. Secondly, it appears that Bush decided this over a month ago. Thirdly, the _last_ thing an egocentric politician does is fly into a place that _just_ had a plane shot up, for purely political reasons. Fourthly, the Press Pool that was selected is hardly the Front Page Boys....


Whatever the reason, I suspect that the pundits and the power-mad will soon be spinning the visit to their own agenda...much to the chagrin of the troops. Who simply thought it was a _good_ _thing_ that the CiC had come to see them.

QM

PS. Did anyone see the History Channel series on JFK? I thought that recording of JFK asking a Navy Captain if he was an idiot to be priceless! What a great President.

Posted by: Jody Dorsett on November 27, 2003 09:18 PM

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Whatever the reason, I suspect that the pundits and the power-mad will soon be spinning the visit to their own agenda...much to the chagrin of the troops. Who simply thought it was a _good_ _thing_ that the CiC had come to see them.
The troops are, I'm afraid, a bunch of deluded kids. No doubt they're swayed by theatrics of this sort, But then again, they're stupid enough to be putting their lives on the line to enrich Bush cronies, while thinking it has something to to do with Democracy and Freedom. Sad.

Posted by: JoJo on November 27, 2003 09:40 PM

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Umm, Jonathan, I reckon GWB is one of the worst presidents ever. He may well be sowing the seeds of the US' decline. Read the first half of my comment. But it doesn't mean I think the hysteria of some of his blog critics is wise or helpful, though.

Charles is right. The fact that expedience happened to coincide with morality on this occasion doesn't change the fact that it was moral.

Posted by: derrida derider on November 27, 2003 09:45 PM

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Umm, Jonathan, I reckon GWB is one of the worst presidents ever. He may well be sowing the seeds of the US' decline. Read the first half of my comment. But it doesn't mean I think the hysteria of some of his blog critics is wise or helpful, though.

Charles is right. The fact that expedience happened to coincide with morality on this occasion doesn't change the fact that it was moral.

Posted by: derrida derider on November 27, 2003 09:46 PM

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OT: Jeez, Brad, why aren't you making some kind of stink over at MT? Formatting in comments is really poor. Is this italic?. Is this bold?. No. MT ate all the tags. Really sucks.

Posted by: JoJo on November 27, 2003 10:13 PM

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Let me get this right: the Clueless One gets into the country his troops have invaded, does not have the courtesy to talk to the people of that country, and sneaks out.

Consider this scenario: the Chinese Premier makes a secret visit to New Orleans; addresses his sales force for the Bra division at the Airport; praises them for doing a great job in the face of serious adversity; promises them that China will stay till the "war for the heaving American masses" is won; and sneaks out. I presume Prof. Blad DeRong of the Great Eastern University, Shanghai, would declare on his weblog that he has done the right thing.

Posted by: Abinandanan on November 27, 2003 11:20 PM

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Let me get this right: the Clueless One gets into the country his troops have invaded, does not have the courtesy to talk to the people of that country, and sneaks out.

Consider this scenario: the Chinese Premier makes a secret visit to New Orleans; addresses his sales force for the Bra division at the Airport; praises them for doing a great job in the face of serious adversity; promises them that China will stay till the "war for the heaving American masses" is won; and sneaks out. I presume Prof. Blad DeRong of the Great Eastern University, Shanghai, would declare on his weblog that he has done the right thing.

Posted by: Abinandanan on November 27, 2003 11:21 PM

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Let me get this right: the Clueless One gets into the country his troops have invaded, does not have the courtesy to talk to the people of that country, and sneaks out.

Consider this scenario: the Chinese Premier makes a secret visit to New Orleans; addresses his sales force for the Bra division at the Airport; praises them for doing a great job in the face of serious adversity; promises them that China will stay till the "war for the heaving American masses" is won; and sneaks out. I presume Prof. Blad DeRong of the Great Eastern University, Shanghai, would declare on his weblog that he has done the right thing.

Posted by: Abinand on November 27, 2003 11:22 PM

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Let me get this right: the Clueless One gets into the country his troops have invaded, does not have the courtesy to talk to the people of that country, and sneaks out.

Consider this scenario: the Chinese Premier makes a secret visit to New Orleans; addresses his sales force for the Bra division at the Airport; praises them for doing a great job in the face of serious adversity; promises them that China will stay till the "war for the heaving American masses" is won; and sneaks out. I presume Prof. Blad DeRong of the Great Eastern University, Shanghai, would declare on his weblog that he has done the right thing.

Posted by: Abinandanan on November 27, 2003 11:24 PM

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Let me get this right: the Clueless One gets into the country his troops have invaded, does not have the courtesy to talk to the people of that country, and sneaks out.

Consider this scenario: the Chinese Premier makes a secret visit to New Orleans; addresses his sales force for the Bra division at the Airport; praises them for doing a great job in the face of serious adversity; promises them that China will stay till the "war for the heaving American masses" is won; and sneaks out. I presume Prof. Blad DeRong of the Great Eastern University, Shanghai, would declare on his weblog that he has done the right thing.

Posted by: Abinandanan on November 27, 2003 11:25 PM

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And then there's that problem with MT not letting you know that you've posted successfully, as we see above. Is this really the best we can do?

Posted by: JoJo on November 28, 2003 12:46 AM

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The Chimp will visit and grandstand with the troops in Iraq but he will never attend a burial of a dead soldier. You do the math.


"It's the poor bashing stupid"

Petition: TELL CONGRESS WE WANT A PRESCRIPTION DRUG BENEFIT UNDER MEDICARE PART B

(put this link in a browser at work and at a public library and leave the page showing. Make it a browser favorite too)

Location: http://www.thePetitionSite.com/takeaction/383366962


Posted by: buckfush on November 28, 2003 01:26 AM

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Umm... Let's see... the Clueless One gets into the country his troops have invaded, talks to the them at the Airport, but does *not* to talk to the people of that country, and sneaks out.

Now, how about this: the Chinese premier makes a secret visit to New Orleans; addresses his sales force for the Bra division at the Airport; praises them for doing a great job in the war for the heaving American masses; promises to hang in there till the war is won; and sneaks out. Prof. Hu DeRong of the Great Eastern University, Shanghai, declares on his weblog that he has done the right thing.

Posted by: Abi on November 28, 2003 01:32 AM

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Umm... Let's see... the Clueless One gets into the country his troops have invaded, talks to the them at the Airport, but does *not* to talk to the people of that country, and sneaks out.

Now, how about this: the Chinese premier makes a secret visit to New Orleans; addresses his sales force for the Bra division at the Airport; praises them for doing a great job in the war for the heaving American masses; promises to hang in there till the war is won; and sneaks out. Prof. Hu DeRong of the Great Eastern University, Shanghai, declares on his weblog that he has done the right thing.

Posted by: Abi on November 28, 2003 01:36 AM

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Abinandanan: "the Clueless One gets into the country his troops have invaded, does not have the courtesy to talk to the people of that country..."

Actually, Bush also also met with four of 24 members of the Governing Council, according to news reports.

Posted by: David on November 28, 2003 01:39 AM

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I am sincerely sorry about cluttering this post up with repeat comments. Since I kept getting an error message from the server, I kept hitting the "post" button (silly me, I even did a bit of editing between these tries!). Will be more careful from now on. For example, I am sending this message only once!

Posted by: Abinandanan on November 28, 2003 02:57 AM

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Derrida,
If I misinterpreted you (evidently, I did), then I apologize. I guess I've just seen too much of that "up is down, Bush is a great guy and anyone who criticizes him is just after power and political gain" stuff lately.

Posted by: Jonathan on November 28, 2003 03:46 AM

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"Stupid deluded kids"? You do know, JoJo, that the American Military is the most well educated group in the country...don't you? 96% of officers have BAs. 30% of the enlisted people have one or more years of college. Most, over 94%, of enlisted people have a High School Diploma.

They must _all_ be under the spell of their Zionist Master. No doubt with the aid of Chthulu. Who is, despite being a demi-god, enamored with imperialistic capitalism.

As for clueless...How clueless is it to post a rant wherein the ranter shows themselves to be ignorant of the facts. I can see Abi missing the text evidence of Iraqi leadership in the hanger...but there _were_ pictures of them. Big pictures, some of which even had words with them.

The reason that many of us opposed Vietnam was that people were _forced_ to fight for a cause they may not believe in. Many of these were the poor and uneducated. Such is not the case today.

QM

Posted by: Jody Dorsett on November 28, 2003 05:36 AM

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>>>Abinandanan: "the Clueless One gets into the country his troops have invaded, does not have the courtesy to talk to the people of that country..."

>>Actually, Bush also also met with four of 24 members of the Governing Council, according to news reports.

I hope they weren't just the politically safe ones. Some "Nixon in China" diplomacy, going to talk personally with GC representatives who are deeply suspicious of the US, could be very helpful right now. The security for the whole thing was so draconian that meeting ordinary Iraqis would be completely out of the question (not that Bush is inclined to do things like that anyway).

Posted by: Harrow on November 28, 2003 07:28 AM

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>>...Prof. Hu DeRong of the Great Eastern University, Shanghai...

Shouldn't that be Prof. DeRong of the Great WESTERN University, Urumqi? (that is, if we're comparing national geographies, not civilizations) That name makes me think of Zhu Rongji. I haven't read about him in the media for a while - was he replaced recently?

Posted by: Har row on November 28, 2003 07:43 AM

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This is an insincere jesture. Bush is playing the media like the devil with a fiddle. I love the way the reporters focuses on the "Secret Mission" aspects of the story: "The Preseident silently leaving Crawford, The non stop flight, Blah Blah Blah"

The Democratic Challangers should attend some of the funerals Bush is skipping out on.

C'mon guys. fight back hard. Bush is playing the military card, push back. How's about an attack add set in a military hospital that talks about the cuts Bush has made to vetrans benefits.

How's about a why are we alone add. That shows how America has had friends in the Wars it has won. Why are we alone? You could dramatise it with a small platoon of soldiers. As the platoon moves forward, instead of showing soldiers dropping you can have them fade out like ghosts, with a narritive highlighting how America is carrying the burden alone in Iraq because Bush would rather score points than do what it takes to win.

Fight back. For the love of the Free World fight back.

Posted by: Scott McArthur on November 28, 2003 07:52 AM

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Harrow -- If one begins with the axiom that Bush wrong, then a search must eventually produce some reason to denigrate what he did. Even if the first few tries don't work, one must eventually find some aspect that was less than ideal. E.g.,

"Bush doesn't care about the soldiers; he doesn't go to funerals."...but, he took a real, personal risk in visiting them under battle conditions.

"This trip was PR for Bush, not morale-building for the troops."...but troops in Iraq are wildly enthusiastic about the President's visit.

"He didn't meet with Iraqis." ... but he DID meet with Iraqis.

"He met with the wrong Iraqis"... but meeting with any Iraqis symbolized his commitment to the Iraqi people. The meeting was for the purpose of substantive discussion.

Still, Bush-bashers shouldn't give up in their carping crusade. How about:
-- the cost of the trip
-- unreasonable risk to the President's life
-- secrecy and lies surrounding the trip were attacks on civil liberties
-- Bush deprived his entourage of Thanksgiving at home
-- Two and a half hours on the ground wasn't long enough
-- Etc.

Posted by: David on November 28, 2003 07:55 AM

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Harrow -- If one begins with the axiom that Bush wrong, then a search must eventually produce some reason to denigrate what he did. Even if the first few tries don't work, one must eventually find some aspect that was less than ideal. E.g.,

"Bush doesn't care about the soldiers; he doesn't go to funerals."...but, he took a real, personal risk in visiting them under battle conditions.

"This trip was PR for Bush, not morale-building for the troops."...but troops in Iraq are wildly enthusiastic about the President's visit.

"He didn't meet with Iraqis." ... but he DID meet with Iraqis.

"He met with the wrong Iraqis"... but meeting with any Iraqis symbolized his commitment to the Iraqi people. The meeting was for the purpose of substantive discussion.

Still, Bush-bashers shouldn't give up in their carping crusade. How about:
-- the cost of the trip
-- unreasonable risk to the President's life
-- secrecy and lies surrounding the trip were attacks on civil liberties
-- Bush deprived his entourage of Thanksgiving at home
-- Two and a half hours on the ground wasn't long enough
-- Etc.

Posted by: David on November 28, 2003 07:58 AM

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Right Brad, George did a very, very good thing. What is more important, actions or motives? Actions, results, are at least somewhat objective...

Happy Thanksgiving to you, too. Here's my own new dream to share: A World Without Dictators. In my lifetime.

Posted by: Tom Grey on November 28, 2003 08:16 AM

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Jody,

While your point about whether our armed forces being deluded is worth bringing up, it is probably not advisable to overstate one’s case in a place like this. Is “the American Military” the “most well educated group in the country”? Compared to lawyers? Nurses? University professors? Accountants? Doctors? Engineers? Greenpeace? Perhaps you meant to compare soldiers to the population as a whole?

Posted by: K Harris on November 28, 2003 08:23 AM

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JoJo, the things you're objecting to aren't the fault of Movable Type. MT allows html in comments, Brad has obviously turned that off (it's a security risk). I don't know what the problem is with posting comments; lots of other MT sites don't have this problem.

On-topic: I was fine with the visit until I started reading all the breathless articles about how brave it was, with many, many quotes from the President and staff. Strikes me as a bit unseemly.

I notice he wasn't in his "bring 'em on" mode. What a surprise, when it's his own skin at risk.

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on November 28, 2003 08:42 AM

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Well then, why not quick local and national direct elections for an interim government and then leave with a small coalition peace keeping force for transition?

Posted by: Ari on November 28, 2003 10:21 AM

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Jody Dorsett and K Harris,

I think you are both half-right. The American military is clearly one of the best-educated groups in this society--among the officers. Just go and read any text or paper about strategy, for example, or anything about science, technology, society from the military colleges. In clarity and directness, it puts the regular universities to shame. The rank and file is of course much less educated, and was, until this conflict, unflinchingly patriotic.

But the Iraq mess, underplanned and justified by a string of "little white lies", has many of them reconsidering the competence of the commander-in-chief. (The officer corps started long before the invasion.) This may be unprecedented in U.S. history. The basic question is "Did any of our soldiers die because these guys didn't think it through in the firstplace? Am I in now in the line of fire because these guys don't know what they're doing?" Why do you think the Administration won't allow the press to interview soldiers at Bush's (few) press stops? Why do you think they're not allowing photography of returning coffins? To prevent silly pundits like you and me from getting angrier? Hah! Bring 'em on!

Posted by: Lee A. on November 28, 2003 10:29 AM

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The issue of comparing the U.S. military, as a group, with other demographics is an interesting one. And affords opportunity for humor. (Supposedely Colin Powell, quoting Gary Trudeau, confessed that few American teenagers could even FIND Iraq on a world map -- but that those few were all Marines ...)

At present the all-volunteer military filters out those who haven't AT LEAST attained a high-school diploma. We don't require that level of education for, say, voting. Or driving a car.

I am willing to be informed otherwise, but as far as I know recruiting offices require certain minimum scores on standardized aptitude and competency tests (ASVAB, used to be, may be called something else now.) And, as far as I know, these scores are NOT adjusted in efforts to include more racial, religious, or economic diversity among the incoming recruits. This is in contrast to admitting practices at some colleges or universities which, as a matter of policy, distort comparable SAT or ACT scores for their own candidates.

There is, even in peacetime, a rather strong attrition factor, an "upwards or out" pressure that tends towards the longer-serving military members completing more technical or academic programs throughout their careers. This contrasts with, say, federal civil service, which may allow and encourage such advancement, but hardly requires it.

A significant fraction of serving members at any time are recalled reservists -- most of whom who have a whole 'nother set of wage-earning skills that are on hold for awhile while they exercise the military skillset. With the possible exception of those of us writing novels and playing guitar in garage bands, very few wage earners are quite comfortable in doing a _completely_ different job for six months.


It's probably an exaggeration to refer to the bunch as "the best and brightest", or as "the most educated group" America has to offer. But that exaggeration is an understandable one.

I wonder why such a generally well-informed bunch votes the way it does?

Posted by: Pouncer on November 28, 2003 12:20 PM

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Great site!

Posted by: FON on November 28, 2003 12:29 PM

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I certainly would not argue that US enlisted personnel are the best educated group in the country, but as a group, they are well above average.

Posted by: Steven Rogers on November 28, 2003 12:32 PM

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MT allows html in comments, Brad has obviously turned that off (it's a security risk).

Bold and italics are a security risk? How so? (Of course the italicized quote above doesn't work.)

Posted by: JoJo on November 28, 2003 12:49 PM

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I hope the visit of the CIC did some good for our people in Iraq. I am very glad he got out alive. Most people do not want to fly into or our of Iraq, and it would have been unspeakably bad if somehow his plane had been hit.

Posted by: Masaccio on November 28, 2003 01:13 PM

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Hello? Hello? Brad, baby, are you there? Or don't you bother to read your own comments?

Posted by: JoJo on November 28, 2003 01:36 PM

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Juan Cole has an interesting take on Bush's visit: www.juancole.com.

Rather funny, and important to remember how failure is redefined. This visit (in after dark, out before dawn) was not exactly what was anticipated by the right before the war.

Bush did not dare to show his face in Iraq in daylight.


Posted by: Barry on November 28, 2003 01:37 PM

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"[...]And, as far as I know, these scores are NOT adjusted in efforts to include more racial, religious, or economic diversity among the incoming recruits.[...]"

That is why they have a higher proportion of Afro-americans and Hispanics. And most of the "Whites" seem to come from less properous zones.

DSW

Posted by: Antoni Jaume on November 28, 2003 02:00 PM

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"Great site!

Posted by FON at November 28, 2003 12:29 PM "

SPAM.

Posted by: DAvid Weman on November 28, 2003 03:38 PM

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JoJo, bold and italic aren't security risks, but generally allowing HTML is a risk. I'm not sure which version of MT Brad is using, but 2.64 incorporates "sanitize" which strips html--but it allows a specification of allowed tags, such as bold and italic. On my blog, using MT 2.64, I've disallowed html in comments, but am using the textile2 (beta) plugin which allows text formatting. Don't blame anything you don't like about Brad's blog on MT...MT is extremely powerful and cool.

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on November 28, 2003 07:34 PM

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Bush did get this one right by going. A commander needs to stand by his troops. Even Lincoln visited the front lines when he was president.

Posted by: bakho on November 28, 2003 07:34 PM

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James Madison even briefly took command of an artillery detachment when the British took Washington, D.C.

Posted by: bad Jim on November 28, 2003 10:25 PM

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Big Deal, LBJ, Clinton, Ike (who WAS a soldier President unlike Jr) and even Nixon visited the troops during wartime. The risk, if any was minimal and those "selected" troops would have been gung-ho from a visit by Michael Jackson let alone an AWOL President.
This was definately another perfect photo-op for Jr so he could use this for his re-election, which he has done BTW...

Posted by: Tommy T. on November 29, 2003 12:09 AM

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The "right" place would have been at a State Dinner in Afghanistan celebrating the success a country can have if they allow the US help them overthrow oppressive governments. Mr. Bush should have walked out on the streets paved with gold in security similar to other industrial nations.
But, I will not complain about this stunt - if Bush takes Clinton's lead on more things we might actually be in good shape.

Posted by: theCoach on November 29, 2003 07:33 AM

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Now this is funny:
I wonder why such a generally well-informed bunch votes the way it does?

Posted by Pouncer at November 28, 2003 12:20 PM

Although I'm fairly certain the irony is missed by the typical denizen of this site.

Posted by: Oh the Irony on November 29, 2003 10:50 AM

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Maybe the obvious answers rolled through our heads, and weren't even worth putting down in comments.

After all, millions of true, devout, God-fearing Christians vote Republican. Given that, what else is surprising?

Posted by: Barry on November 29, 2003 11:30 AM

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After all, millions of true, devout, God-fearing Christians vote Democrat, Barry. If you think devout Christians are disqualified to vote Democrat, then the Democrats will be a small minority in government for the next hundred years.

Posted by: Steven Rogers on November 30, 2003 07:52 AM

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I think Barry is thinking of the unthinking fundamentalist kind of christian sects that abounds in the USA and which are on the right of the Republican party.

DSW

Posted by: Antoni Jaume on November 30, 2003 10:05 AM

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Oh, I'm sure that is what Barry had in mind, but do true, devout, God-fearing Latino Catholics know that? Start todding around rhetoric like that people you are not actually aiming at might get annoyed to staqy home on election day or even switch candidates.

Posted by: Steven Rogers on November 30, 2003 01:17 PM

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