Skip to comments.Cool speech site shows Bush knows how to have fun
Posted on 05/02/2003 3:06:35 AM PDT by FairOpinion
We are a cynical, image-conscious, media-savvy society. If Jesus Christ returned to Earth tomorrow, and was floating over Grant Park delivering a sermon, newscasters would talk over his words to comment on the awe-inspiring quality of the moment and the dramatic power of his airborne delivery. Thus, even before President Bush's S3 Viking jet landed on the USS Abraham Lincoln Thursday, TV pundits were warbling about the obvious leadership symbolism (if it's so obvious, why remark on it?), and the critics were crying "cowboy!'' and offering up their tired perspectives.
I view it differently. When I saw the president take off his helmet, smile broadly and greet the assembled servicemen and women, I thought: That looks fun.
How could it not be? The thrill of landing on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific. Of allowing servicemen who have been at sea for nearly 10 months a welcome home visit by their leader? (Fun for the president, at least--I'm sure the sailors were hot to get to port).
Fun for the president, in fact, might even have been the motivating factor. Bush doesn't really need to underline his commander-in-chief chops--the Iraq War did that nicely. Rather, I believe, he chose to arrive on the Abraham Lincoln the way he did because it seemed like a hoot. And whether Bush himself cooked up the idea of being the first president to land in a plane aboard a carrier, or merely approved the suggestion of some handler, you still have to credit him. It takes guts to have fun nowadays, in our all-business environment. Particularly leaders, who are supposed to be shaving pennies and grappling with problems.
But that gets old. We shouldn't underestimate the value of leaders who have fun from time to time. Who wants some lemon-faced Jimmy Carter-type always lecturing and complaining and turning down the thermostat? Life is tough enough without watching those you've elected grind through life.
Contrast Bush with our own Mayor Daley, a man who seems to be truly suffering under the weight of office. Long before the frightening, Captain Queeg-like justification of his midnight ruin of Meigs Field, I was struck by how much he didn't seem to enjoy himself. He seems so irked. You never see him at a baseball game, happy and relaxed, chatting with the players. No. He's always got his hands locked in a white-knuckle grip at a podium, his eyes darting around as if he just can't wait to bolt home and go crawl under the bed.
Sure, it's risky to have fun. The president served a slow pitch to his critics by going to that aircraft carrier. But so what? They hate him anyway. The visit was a welcome break from the news cycle of SARS and woes in Iraq. A big chunk of Thursday afternoon TV news was devoted to a rare exploration of naval hardware, of the awesome might of the aircraft carrier, of the specifications of the various planes that land there. It was cool stuff, and Bush obviously reveled in it.
"It's a good day to be president,'' gushed one CNN talking head, getting into the spirit of the thing.
Really, how can you not marvel at military hardware? Yes, it kills people, sometimes, then so do automobiles--another Vietnam War's worth of casualties every 16 months in this country. But we still go guiltlessly to the Auto Show.
I don't think I'm unique here. Most guys I know retain their little boy fascination with things military. True, I'm the only person I know who dragged his wife aboard a Navy ship on their honeymoon. In my defense, it was a complete accident. We were working our way through bed-and-breakfasts in New England, and we stopped at Bar Harbor, Maine. There was an enormous ship in the harbor, the USS Farion, a missile frigate, and as we gazed at her profile, the thought crossed my mind that it might be a romantic outing if my bride and I rented a canoe and paddled out to look at the vessel.
But even in those pre-9/11 days, I worried that they might turn the deck guns on us. So I went over to a group of sailors in whites, standing on the pier, and asked if they thought it would be OK if we canoed around the ship.
They told us we probably could, but if we wanted a closer look, there was a tour at 1 p.m. So we caught a running boat over and joined about two dozen people taken through the ship. The tour took two hours, and was a jaw-dropping tribute to modern military power. The weapon that stood out for me was the domed Phalanx anti-missile gun that fired depleted-uranium bullets. The guide said the gun--and I'm groping into memory here--fired 600 rounds a second and held 2,000 shells. I stuck my hand up. "Didn't that mean it would run out of ammo in a little over three seconds?'' The guide paused, smiling, as if he gets that question every time, and answered that the computer tracked each shot, comparing it with the radar profile of what was coming their way, that it not only would knock out a missile streaking toward the ship, but then blow up the fragments before they hit the water. It fires exactly the number of bullets it needs, and then stops.
The Phalanx is a great symbol for the war we just fought--overwhelming force calibrated finely to do the job. As are the depleted-uranium bullets, used because they're heavier than lead, so pack more punch. You have to admire a technology so advanced that lead isn't heavy enough. Or I do, anyway.
It kind of reminds me of the strike he threw after 9/11.
That depends on what the meaning of fun is.
I find that journalism is borring (unless there's a war on). But, hey!--I'm a mature man, and superficiality and negativity bother me.
The superficiality and negativity do however tend to grab the attention of the bored and/or unwary, which is why the frontpage of the newspaper is the way it is. Survival of the fittest theory applies--the only newspapers that make money are the ones which are superficial and negative enough to grab your attention.
Fox News is an interesting case, noted for not being as liberal as the others. But it is just as superficial as the rest of the news outlets--the very term "news" tells you that--but it is not as systematically biased to be negative towards the people/things which make the country work. It is, consequently, more watchable when there is actual significant news to think about.
Claude King's new release Cowboy in the White House
. . . sorta makes you nostalgic for Mike Dukakis and his tank helment, doesn't it? ;)
IMHO the question the Democrats should be asked during each presidential campaign is,"Who is the last successful Democratic Secretary of Defense?"That's a pointed question in the sense that Cohen was a Republican senator, and Clinton's first choice--Les Aspen--resigned after the Black Hawk Down incident demonstrated his incompetence to his own satisfaction.
Reagan/Cap Weinberger built DoD budgets UP dramatically as part of a markedly successful foreign policy which ended the Energy Crisis and won the Cold War--so the idea that Carter/Harold Brown had good defense policy is a pretty slender reed. And the last Democratic SecDef before that was Robert McNamara--who in later life basically disavowed Vietnam--was at the time its cheerleader . . .
There's a pretty good case that the Democrats haven't had a good SecDef in half a century!
I wonder if the hundred thousand or more Gulf War One veterans who are suffering from the dust of those depleted-uranium munitions, now crawling through their urinary tracts and lymph nodes, feel as you do. And who are, nearly all, most cruelly neglected by a Veterans Affairs medical system that ought to be beholden to them.
We could wonder about the several hundred thousand Iraqis that have also been affected, in both wars -- and will, as generations of children ingest the dust, for centuries to come. We could, but we won't. We are the World Hegemon, and those disposable Islamic peons' lives therefore don't matter, do they?
Not when a demonstration of Empire, with footage being shot for campaign commercials to come, can be so "cool."
Well, it never hurt to play to your strength!
This guy sounds like a Mark Steyn in the making! I love it! And that's what everyone was saying yesterday- wouldn't that be FUN to ride a plane onto a carrier? I mean, the man is the CIC- why doesn't he get to play a little bit? I am so glad it came off all right.
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