Skip to comments.Bush Takes Baghdad
Posted on 11/29/2003 7:17:32 AM PST by chiller
Well, now you know why we decided to write a column on the day after Thanksgiving.
Seriously, after we heard the stunning news that President Bush had flown to Baghdad to visit with U.S. soldiers, it wasn't long before we started to wonder: Just what is the Angry Left going to say about this? "He said he was going to be in Crawford. BUSH LIED!!!!"? (The Associated Press takes this line, sort of, describing the announcement that the president would be at his Texas ranch "a ruse staged in the name of security.)
The New York Times reports on the reactions of the Democratic candidates. Howard Dean sent out a spokesdwarf, Jay Carson, to announce: "It's nice that he made it over there today, but this visit won't change the fact that those brave men and women should never have been fighting in Iraq in the first place." Somehow we doubt many of the soldiers sitting in that room yesterday were wishing Dean were with them instead, telling them they're fighting for nothing.
John Kerry, the haughty, French-looking Massachusetts Democrat, took a similar tack, issuing a statement: "When Thanksgiving is over, I hope the president will take the time to correct his failed policy in Iraq that has placed our soldiers in a shooting gallery." Kerry, who voted for the war but against funding the troops, served in Vietnam, so it's little wonder his campaign is such a quagmire.
John Edwards and Joe Lieberman were more tepid in their carping. David Axelrod, an Edwards aide, "described the visit as a 'daring move and great politics,' but added: 'I think these kids need more. I'm sure they were buoyed by his coming, but they need more.' " Edwards also voted to defund the troops.
And here's Lieberman spokesman Jano Cabrera: "In fairness, visiting with the troops is exactly what a commander in chief should do. That said, we hope that he's also reassuring them that the administration will eventually have a plan to win the peace and bring our troops home soon."
Cabrera must've missed the president's speech, in which he declared: "We did not charge hundreds of miles into the heart of Iraq, pay a bitter cost in casualties, defeat a brutal dictator and liberate 25 million people only to retreat before a band of thugs and assassins." Sounds pretty reassuring to us.
Then there's Mark Bennett, the communications director for Wesley Clark's campaign, who declared: "We're not going to throw stones at the guy for trying to do a nice thing for the troops. When the president goes and spends time with the troops, that's a good thing."
Bennett then proceeded to throw stones at the guy for trying to do a nice thing for the troops back in May: "They made their bed with that 'Mission Accomplished' trip, and that's going to be around for a long time. That's not the last ad you will see with that. I will guarantee you that whoever the nominee is will have that image up."
Dick Gephardt proved himself the class of the Democratic field; the Missouri congressman, the Times reports, "declined to comment on the trip." It would have been nice if someone had simply said: We stand with the president and the troops against our nation's enemies. But a simple expression of patriotism is too much to expect from this crowd.
Sour Scribes The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz reports that the White House arranged for a pool of 13 reporters to accompany President Bush to Baghdad; the Drudge Report has a copy of the notes filed by Post reporter Mike Allen, who writes: "The [president's] staff aimed to keep the trip secret until after he had taken off from Baghdad--no filing was permitted from the site, by the pool or by locals."
This seems entirely reasonable; the president was taking a risk by landing at Baghdad (né Saddam) International Airport, where less than a week ago a terrorist's surface-to-air missile hit a civilian jet. As 20-year-old Pfc. Telo Monahan tells the Associated Press, Bush's visit "was a display of confidence in our ability to protect not just us, but him. It was just three or four days after that DHL plane got hit."
But some journalists are complaining, Kurtz reports:
Philip Taubman, Washington bureau chief of the New York Times, said that "in this day and age, there should have been a way to take more reporters. People are perfectly capable of maintaining a confidence for security reasons. It's a bad precedent." Once White House officials "decided to do a stealth trip, they bought into a whole series of things that are questionable."
Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, criticized the White House correspondents who made the trip without spilling the secret. "That's just not kosher," he said. "Reporters are in the business of telling the truth. They can't decide it's okay to lie sometimes because it serves a larger truth or good cause."
Is it any wonder Americans don't trust the press? Here we have an editor of the New York Times insisting that reporters can keep a secret, then in the very next breath, a self-styled rabbi of reportorial "excellence" denounces them for doing just that.
Rosentiel's comments are especially idiotic. The reporters didn't lie; they just waited 2 1/2 hours until Bush had left Baghdad before reporting that he had been there. Journalists often get information that is "embargoed"--i.e., not to be released until a time of the source's choosing--and by and large they comply with such embargoes. Moreover, withholding facts "because it serves a larger truth" is precisely what reporters do when they use anonymous sources.
Rosentiel adds that Bush's trip "was much bigger news on a slow news day if it was unexpected. What reporters have done by going along with this is to help Bush politically." Well, it's true that the element of surprise helped make this one of the most dramatic political gestures in recent history (actually, we can't think of anything that comes close to surpassing it). But what Rosentiel seems to be saying is that reporters had an obligation to diminish the news value of the story in order to hurt Bush politically.
Finally, Shock and Awe Remember the "shock and awe" campaign in Baghdad that never materialized last March? CNN reports it finally arrived yesterday, when Bush emerged from behind the curtain:
The shocked and elated soldiers jumped to their feet, pumped their fists in the air, roared with delight, and grabbed their cameras to snap photographs. . . .
At the president's ranch in Crawford, Texas, where reporters had been told Bush would be having Thanksgiving dinner, the reaction among the press corps was shock and awe.
CNN's "ticker" yesterday kept mentioning that Bush was the first U.S. president ever to travel to Iraq--which is true, though Bill Clinton sent his wife.
London's far-left Independent newspaper, home of America-hating polemicist Robert Fisk, predictably sneers, headlining its story on the trip "The Turkey Has Landed: How Bush Cooked Up a Secret Mission to Give Thanks to His Troops." It ends as follows:
Some Iraqis were unimpressed. "To hell with Bush," said Mohammed al-Jubouri. "He is another Mongol in a line of invaders who have destroyed Iraq."
But although one of the bylines on the Independent story is "Phil Reeves in Baghdad," this quote seems to have been lifted without attribution from a Reuters dispatch.
Another Reuters dispatch mentions that President Bush by the way didn't serve in Vietnam: "The 57-year-old president, whose absence from active service in Vietnam was an issue during his election campaign, succeeded in impressing many of his troops and bolstering their morale."
Yet another Reuters dispatch helpfully explains Thanksgiving to those poor souls whose countries don't celebrate it: "Thanksgiving is one of the most cherished holidays in the United States, traditionally celebrated with a turkey dinner shared among family and friends who 'give thanks' for their blessings and good fortune." One man's thanks are another's ingratitude?
An Administration That Looks Like America "We looked like a normal couple."--President Bush describing himself and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice en route to the airport before the Baghdad trip
What Press Conference? Just Move On! The Hill newspaper has an intriguing report on the far-left outfit MoveOn.org (last item):
Sen. Jon Corzine (D-N.J) and the MoveOn Voter Fund were supposed to hold a news conference at the National Press Club last Friday to introduce MoveOn's new TV spot on the Bush administration's economic program. But, at the last minute, the event was canceled.
"There were legal problems I'm not supposed to talk about," said someone connected with MoveOn. The group's Voter Fund is one of the so-called 527 political action committees currently under investigation by the House Administration Committee.
"There was a scheduling conflict," said Kawana Lloyd, a spokeswoman for MoveOn. "What press conference?" said Corzine, hustling to the Senate floor. "I didn't know there was one."
It would be interesting to learn more about MoveOn's "legal problems."
(Excerpt) Read more at opinionjournal.com ...
"Is it any wonder Americans don't trust the press? Here we have an editor of the New York Times insisting that reporters can keep a secret, then in the very next breath, a self-styled rabbi of reportorial "excellence" denounces them for doing just that.
Rosentiel's comments are especially idiotic. The reporters didn't lie; they just waited 2 1/2 hours until Bush had left Baghdad before reporting that he had been there. Journalists often get information that is "embargoed."
Exactly. "Bush" was an "anonymous source", until "the source" permitted release of the news regarding the trip. The rest of the "Press Corps" needs a nap.
I think you meant "chimps".
Well said. Astute observation.
Where did this come from? Im very pleased so see this
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