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November 28, 2003

THE INDEPENDENT LAYS AN EGG....I promised myself I wasn't going to comment on George Bush's Thanksgiving Day visit to Iraq. I just didn't have anything nonobvious to say.

But take a look at this headline from the Independent. I mean, I don't like Bush either, and I have no doubt that PR played a major role in this whole episode, and I know the Independent is both lefty and anti-war and I know that British newspapers aren't as sober as American ones. I know.

But honestly, what were they thinking? As the cover of Counterpunch or some Bay Area alt weekly, sure. But on the front page of an allegedly serious broadsheet?

Time to grow up, lads.

Posted by Kevin Drum at November 28, 2003 02:58 PM | TrackBack


Comments

Sorry, I agree with the Independent. Sometimes the truth sounds unpleasant.

Posted by: Lizette at November 28, 2003 03:06 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with Lizette. Had I been on the Independent's editorial board, the headline would likely have contained profanity as well.

Calling that piece of opportunistic filth a "turkey" shows quite a bit of restraint so far as I'm concerned.

Posted by: Lyssophobe at November 28, 2003 03:12 PM | PERMALINK

Um... I note that Bush is again wearing a military uniform to which he has no shadow of a right.

And he's carrying a tray with a turkey on it.

And... some captions are just irresistible.

Posted by: Jesurgislac at November 28, 2003 03:13 PM | PERMALINK

Looks about right to me. What's the problem?

Posted by: JoJo at November 28, 2003 03:14 PM | PERMALINK

I had a funny feeling I might be in the minority on this....

But remember, although British newspaper are more political than American ones, they're still supposed to be reliable providers of news. This kind of thing belongs somewhere else.

Posted by: Kevin Drum at November 28, 2003 03:16 PM | PERMALINK

Without wanting to go all Brit-defending-British-newspaper, I think the headline is meant to be read as a reference to the fact that this was a Thanksgiving trip (and the only thing we know about Thanksgiving is that turkeys are somehow, centrally but mysteriously, involved). Also obviously a pun on the book/film. At some nth level perhaps a joke about Bush but it's really not much of a dig at him.

Posted by: Nasi Lemak at November 28, 2003 03:19 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. Touchy.

Sorry, it's a clever headline. It works both ways. Bush is the turkey, or Bush holds up the cooked bird. It works to both major sides polarized by the sight of Bush.

But with regard to the story it crowns, it does a magnificent job encapsuling the article dissecting the obvious, absurd and desperate PR stunt by a president who sent these troops (the same troops, I shall add, who had their benefits cut) into harm's way on the barest of evidence.

The stunt also nicely engulfed coverage of Sen. Clinton's visit to the region, FWIW.

Posted by: John at November 28, 2003 03:19 PM | PERMALINK

Think of the worse headlines they managed to resist. IMNSHO, it was a chickenhawk serving turkey to sitting ducks.

And yes, I stole that from somewhere and no, I don't remember where.

Posted by: Nina at November 28, 2003 03:21 PM | PERMALINK

they're still supposed to be reliable providers of news This isn't reliable provision of news? Why not? Looks to me like they got the facts right. Is it the absence of a reverential tone that bothers you?

Posted by: JoJo at November 28, 2003 03:22 PM | PERMALINK

But remember, although British newspaper are more political than American ones, they're still supposed to be reliable providers of news. This kind of thing belongs somewhere else.

Hmmm... depends. British papers have much more of a tradition of really nasty hold-no-punches give-no-quarter political cartooning than American papers do. Political satire, in a country where the libel laws favor the prosecutor more than the defendent, is a genuinely free zone.

By British standards, a triple-punning* caption to a photo taken at a photo-op is a very mild form of satire. (Compare and contrast with Steve Bell - this week comparing the Home Secretary (Secretary of State) to King Herod. The article I've linked to, Bell discusses reasons for drawing George W. Bush as a chimp. And British newspapers do sometimes put these cartoons on the front page.)

*I make it three, but can anyone count more? 1. Bush is carrying a roast turkey and it's Thanksgiving: 2. "The Eagle has landed": 3. Bush is a turkey.

Posted by: Jesurgislac at November 28, 2003 03:27 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with Kevin. It's time to get off the Bush obsession we on the Dem side have... it just plays into his hands.

Whether you love him or hate him, as long as you're looking at Bush then he's the news, and he's really not the news. Bush is not politics. When you hate him, it all becomes about HIM. That's what his people want.

Posted by: wellbasically at November 28, 2003 03:29 PM | PERMALINK

GDubya stealtily nipped into Baghdad, tucked yet another publicity stunt photo op into his belt and then cut and ran as fast as AF1 could carry him back to the hinterlands of Texas where his cow, Ophelia awaited him back at his former pig farm along with the rest of his family.

Another ersatz-patriotic notch carved into his silver spoon

GWHCUPOPS©

GDubya's Whirlwind Hillary Clinton Upstage Photo Opportunity Publicity Stunt©

Publicity Stunt Accomplished!

(Pronounced - GW Hiccups)

Trips to Baghdad:

1. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton:

Toured Baghdad on Friday, meeting with troops, top officials of the occupation administration and aid groups.

2. GDubya:

Ladled corn and had his picture taken in a secured location.

Posted by: Aaron Adams at November 28, 2003 03:31 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you seem to think that reporting "president bravely lands in Iraq" would somehow NOT be "political" while "the turkey has landed" somehow is that mythical thing "political." Don't you get it? Both kinds of headlines are "political" in the sense that they serve as some kind of commentary on what the reader is supposed to think about what they are reading. But what is wrong about putting one kind of scrim on this as opposed to another?

You seem surprised and a little taken aback to find out that the british think that the stunt itself was political in the bad sense of the word and needed to be called by name. I say that Fox and all the other gushers are too "political" when they take the white house spin and throw it in our faces and expect us to accept it as an accurate and unbiased account of what is happening.

Like the rest of your loyal posters, I'm just glad someone had the courage to call this stunt what it was: a turkey.

Posted by: aimai at November 28, 2003 03:37 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you, UK!

Posted by: EssJay at November 28, 2003 03:41 PM | PERMALINK

FYI: Cartoon History in the UK, from the Political Cartoon Society. Googling on Steve Bell, I found a column he wrote about a convention of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists he attended this year, and noted the following two paragraphs:

"We often lay claim to being the birthplace of political cartooning because of the great James Gillray, the 18th century caricaturist who ridiculed the ruling class, but in fact the political cartoon as we know it, in newspapers rather than in limited expensive editions of engravings, was born in the US. The other great American invention was the newspaper cartoon strip, and it's the rich language they forged that we all still use."

But Bell also notes:

"There is a fascinating collection of awkward, censored and spiked cartoons from all over the US on display at the Andy Warhol museum in Pittsburgh, and it's striking how mildly controversial they are. They're good though, because they're clever, funny and right on the ball, and one can only despair at the level of editorial queasiness that required the suppression of many of them."

Posted by: Jesurgislac at November 28, 2003 03:42 PM | PERMALINK

A turkey is a turkey.

thelrd in TEXAS

Posted by: Larry Davis at November 28, 2003 03:48 PM | PERMALINK

I think you are in the minority on this one Kevin, and this time the minority is wrong. British papers are very harsh in their judgements of politicians. It would be nice to see some of their harshness rub off on the papers on this side of the pond. I was in Edinburgh in early October and the papers were brutal towards Ian Duncan Smith, calling him "wacko", "disturbed", etc. in the headlines. I mostly read the Edinburgh Evening News, the Scotsman is more traditional and doesn't have as much hyperbole. Perhaps the Southern newspapers are much different, but I doubt it scanning the headlines of those papers when I am travelling through the U.K.

I think the headline was humorous and made its point. I don't think it out of bounds for the newpaper climate of the UK. I am glad Bush went on the trip, but I think he is getting too much credit for doing something half-way right. Unfortunately, he gets too many things completely wrong.

Posted by: Scott at November 28, 2003 03:52 PM | PERMALINK

For a reality check look at what we get here in NYC. http://www.nypost.com/

Posted by: wren at November 28, 2003 03:54 PM | PERMALINK

Chickenhawk Slips Into Baghdad To Wipe Egg From Face

President Bush admitted he fucked up before by flying a secret mission into Baghdad to personally take down the Mission Accomplished banner (that he personally put up) and to re-initialize the troops for the long hard slog ahead. "Oops," said Bush, "Sorry guys, I misunderestimated the situation. But, we will stick around for as long as it takes to make sure my Iraq policy ends up coming out right."

PS - I liked the Independent article.

Posted by: poputonian at November 28, 2003 03:57 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't there a sober middle between "president bravely lands in Iraq" and "turkey has landed", aimai? Maybe "president land in Iraq"?

Posted by: angua at November 28, 2003 03:57 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of Counterpunch, they had a humorous take on the Bush visit that I found amusing.

Posted by: Swopa at November 28, 2003 04:00 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I'm with Kevin; even if the headline is true, Bush is still the President, and the Presidency is more than the identity of its current occupant, and the President ought to be respected even if he is a turkey. In this case, I give the Independent a bit of leeway because, as a British newspaper, it isn't under any particular moral obligation to respect an American president. But not that much leeway.

And it *is* immature.

Anyway, I guess I'm one of those people that believes that, if the only way you can win is to descend to their level, then you lose. Or you ought to, anyway. (Unreconstructed McCainiac. You can tell, can't you?)

Shoshana

Posted by: Shoshana at November 28, 2003 04:01 PM | PERMALINK

In light of this story on how the trip was planned, I don't think the Independent exaggerated one bit: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=578&e=2&u=/nm/20031128/ts_nm/bush_iraq_dc. Hillary showed more courage than Bush but doesn't everyone?

Posted by: Mike at November 28, 2003 04:02 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe TURKEY was the designated call signal (since they didn't want to identify themselves as Air Force One)

or Operation Turkey was the mission's name?

Posted by: ding7777 at November 28, 2003 04:06 PM | PERMALINK

I agree. This headline could lead people to believe Bush is really a turkey. That would be wrong.

Posted by: tamd at November 28, 2003 04:08 PM | PERMALINK

I'm of two minds on this. On the one hand I'm usually all for civility in public discourse.

On the other hand, a cheap political stunt like this trip doesn't deserve to be taken seriously.

If Bush were in Iraq doing something real--say, meeting with Iraqi and coalition leaders--I would applaud, but a 2 1/2 hour photo op doesn't count.

Posted by: rea at November 28, 2003 04:12 PM | PERMALINK

I totally agree with the Independent and think you are guilty of sleeping with the enemy on this. WE ARE FIGHTING A WAR here. If anything, the Independent was far too nice.

Posted by: John H. Farr at November 28, 2003 04:22 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking as a Brit, that's exactly the point that sticks in my craw.

Bush turns up in Iraq, meets with troops, meets with senior figures in the administration, talks to Chalibai, hell, maybe has a brief meeting with Ayatollah Sistani -- suddenly I'd have to sit up, because this would be Statesmanlike behaviour (especially in something not a million miles away from a war zone).

But the picture we got -- Bush turns up in secret, bearing a fucking turkey, shakes hands with troops for two hours, has a photo-op, then flies out, still in secret -- is a PR stunt, pure and simple. It does nothing to address the pressing, urgent political realities of the situation and everything to create a feel-good soundbite for the American public's TV news ration.

It got treated by the British media with the contempt it deserved, nothing more and nothing less.

Posted by: Charlie Stross at November 28, 2003 04:23 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I think the Independent's picture is funny. I wouldn't buy the paper, that's all.

The vitriol coming from your commenters? Keep it coming. You folks have shot yourself in both feet and you are moving rapidly up your shins.

Posted by: spc67 at November 28, 2003 04:23 PM | PERMALINK

The front of AM New York (the new free daily wannabe-newspaper in NYC) had a picture of Bush laughing with a couple of soldiers under the headline "Talking Turkey With the Troops". So I guess they're trying to imply that the president is a talking turkey.

Hmmm...I guess if people get tired of calling Bush the Chimp or the Shrub or the AWOL-butt, or whatever, and they need a new derrogatory name for him, they can start calling him the talking turkey.

Posted by: rik at November 28, 2003 04:24 PM | PERMALINK

In this case, I give the Independent a bit of leeway because, as a British newspaper, it isn't under any particular moral obligation to respect an American president. But not that much leeway.

The question is whether British newspapers should to treat the American President with more respect than they do the British Prime Minister.

I would disagree.

I think this is what Kevin's missing: British newspapers just don't treat political figures - any political figure, from the head of state downwards - with the same awed respect that American newspaper grant at least to their own.

Posted by: Jesurgislac at November 28, 2003 04:25 PM | PERMALINK

What everybody else said. This whole trip was a shabby, pointless photo-op, and british papers are considerably more prone to harsh treatment of their politicians.

What pisses me off the is way the US media is breathlessly reporting this like Bush gunned down a nest of al-Qaeda spies single-handed.

Posted by: Bobo at November 28, 2003 04:25 PM | PERMALINK

Grow up? Get off your high horse, it IS a British paper and the caption is a harmless one that made my household laugh, at least, and I'm guessing a lot of their readership. Us Brits have a tendency to think of our leaders as public servants and frequently poke fun and print embarassing/awkward pics. Brings em down to earth in my opinion, and can only lead to more healthy whining, um, criticism. And that's our own, this is a foreign president. So what?
I'll never understand the American need to genuflect to the presidency and other institutions in such a humourless fashion.

Posted by: billyinbelfast at November 28, 2003 04:28 PM | PERMALINK

And it's actually a pretty flattering picture of the man. Between that fact and the grin-inducing caption, it lends you to feel kindly disposed to him.


Posted by: billyinbelfast at November 28, 2003 04:30 PM | PERMALINK

I like it! You don't think Murdoch wouldn't have done the same thing to Clinton? In a heartbeat!! Besides,turkey is a whole lotmore polite than what it should have been.

Posted by: Palolo lolo at November 28, 2003 04:36 PM | PERMALINK

But turkeys can't fly can they?

Posted by: chsa at November 28, 2003 04:37 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, I think The Independent is right on. Disrespectful? After the last three years of this administration? Give me a break.

Actually it's kind of an insult to turkeys all over the world.

Posted by: yamhead at November 28, 2003 04:42 PM | PERMALINK

US media is breathlessly reporting this

I was surprised. CNN played some quotes from Iraqis commenting on Bush's visit. They were mostly negative. Some were insulted that he came at all, others that he came unanounced and didn't stay for any hospitalities; one said if he was a real man he would have visited Iraqis. There was at least one positive, who did thank Bush. At least CNN isn't having multiple orgasms like Fox News.

Posted by: poputonian at November 28, 2003 04:42 PM | PERMALINK

First of all it wasn't a visit to Iraq, hmm? It was a visit to a heavily guarded fortress, no Iraqis --except perhaps psuedoIraqi Chalabi.

"Time to grow up, lads"-- now what kind of condescending horseshit it this, as if Bush and his crew were doing the real grownup thing. Old Calpundit doing the grownup thing.

We must be so respectful and adult about this whole thing..........where is Jerry Rubin when you need him? Abbie Hoffman, yippies, Merry Pranksters ...... Salvador Dali, Christ, anybody!

Ooops sorry, bush-related tourettes, adult oppositional disorder, curses poopmybritches....

Posted by: degustibus at November 28, 2003 04:45 PM | PERMALINK

See Juan Cole for a more informed reaction
Clicky

Posted by: degustibus at November 28, 2003 04:50 PM | PERMALINK

What you are forgetting, Kevin, is that British journalism simply does not have the phoney tradition of "objectivity" that US journalism pretends to uphold.

A British paper has a slant on the news, and no one pretends otherwise. I can think of dozens of covers of The Economist in recent years, for example, that are every bit as nasty and pointed as the Independent's headline.

Before the Iraq war, George W. Bush was pretty clearly the least competent American to hold the office of President since William McKinley was shot. The war itself and what would appear to be the comedy of errors that led up to it and followed it (were their consequences not so appalling) has cemented Bush's place in the history books as the worst President the US has ever had.

Posted by: Alan Bostick at November 28, 2003 04:51 PM | PERMALINK

What's so bad about being called a turkey, that most-revered symbol of the true American spirit? What more honest compliment can the Independent give than to compare Bush to a noble, simple-minded creature, strutting through the brush with that comical strut, uttering pleasant gibberish?

Posted by: Charles V at November 28, 2003 05:03 PM | PERMALINK

Besides, Kevin, the Independent's headline is no worse than what just appeared in Newsday: AWOL on Air Force One. (Thanks to Skippy for the pointer; but then, he's pretty pleased that the "aWol" meme is spreading.)

Posted by: Alan Bostick at November 28, 2003 05:03 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps it's a bit awkward for us to analyze that headline because we haven't a grasp of the social context. I've spent quite a bit of time in London, and still don't have a good feel for their
style of humor and political satire- it's wacky and offbeat in a way that often eludes me.

Posted by: peter jung at November 28, 2003 05:10 PM | PERMALINK

Love him or hate him...I'll give him a pass on this one, as obvious as it is, but the kids are out there and I think it's the least he should do...now stop being so arrogant and get them some help....putz......

Posted by: ron at November 28, 2003 05:13 PM | PERMALINK

This headline is even better - by those left-wing radicals at Newsday:
AWOL on Air Force One


Posted by: novakant at November 28, 2003 05:23 PM | PERMALINK

oops, I see it was mentioned already, anyway, hope you had a nice turkey over there

Posted by: novakant at November 28, 2003 05:26 PM | PERMALINK

Of course if the Indo is insufficiently deferent for you Calpundit you could always check THE SUN. Not only am I sure they're overcome with transatlantic pride but they have boobies too.

Posted by: billyinbelfast at November 28, 2003 05:28 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I think the message you ought to get out of this is how much of a joke W is overseas. The perception to them is comparable to how many of us would feel if someone who is a comic book character became President like an Al Sharpton or Jerry Falwell or Arnold....wait what's my point again.

Posted by: lerxst at November 28, 2003 05:34 PM | PERMALINK

There was almost five pages of fawning coverage in today's Los Angeles Times. So the Indie's headline was a nice counterbalance.

Alan Bostick is right--the British papers make no bones about their political bias, unlike the phoney non-Fox "fair and balanced" stuff we get here. If the Times of London or the Daily Mail had done that headline, that would have been worthy of comment.

Posted by: Jim at November 28, 2003 05:45 PM | PERMALINK

the President ought to be respected even if he is a turkey

I think this is where Europe and the US part company. We Europeans have chopped off a lot of kingly and queenly heads between us over the years, and tend to give respect where respect is due, not where it is unearned, unwarranted and especially as to give it at this point to this particular man is to endanger the whole planet (see London's Mayor Ken on that one).

The problem for us is that even if a Democrat gets in in 2004, is it going to make the slightest bit of difference? Are the US positions on the ICC, Kyoto, terra likely to change substantively one jot? I doubt it.

Posted by: Hypatia at November 28, 2003 05:52 PM | PERMALINK

'Some are attacking the president for attacking terrorists.'

That's disrespectful of the truth, which should matter more than any office.

Posted by: Alan at November 28, 2003 05:53 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks Kevin for linking to the story. I'm glad the Independent printed it.

Posted by: anotherhammergirl at November 28, 2003 05:53 PM | PERMALINK

Well, Bush's PR stunt certainly upstaged the trip that Senators Clinton and Reed are making to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. How many people are going to be aware of their trip, which actually had an important diplomatic purpose, when you've got Bush's little (but costly) jaunt all over the headlines?

Posted by: josef at November 28, 2003 06:14 PM | PERMALINK

Did anyone see Hillary in Afghanistan eating Turkey with the troops on the news? If you were bothered by Bush going to Iraq and eating turkey with the troops does Hillary doing it bother you too? Was what she did a pointless photo-op and a cheap political stunt too? Anyone for consistency?

If you don't like Bush what ever he did on Thanksgiving would have bothered you. If he stayed in Texas with his family he'd be getting criticized for that.

Lyssophobe that's not a military uniform he was wearing

Posted by: Matt K at November 28, 2003 06:21 PM | PERMALINK

And yet soldiers still die...

Posted by: Chris at November 28, 2003 06:30 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, there's a turkey in the picture, 'nuff said.

Nobody ever said they were talking about Bush. Where'd you get that crazy idea?

Really, though, that's the kind of explanation the media lets slide when Rove and his minions use it.

Enough with the Queensbury Rules, Kevin!

Posted by: scarshapedstar at November 28, 2003 06:37 PM | PERMALINK

How could you expect anything more respectful from the British after the three-day photo-op their country just went through?

Posted by: NC Progressive at November 28, 2003 06:37 PM | PERMALINK

Seems like the large majority missed the big picture, as Charlie noted:

But the picture we got -- Bush turns up in secret, bearing a fucking turkey, shakes hands with troops for two hours, has a photo-op, then flies out, still in secret -- is a PR stunt, pure and simple.

No, Charlies, it isn't, and I'll tell what it was: it was GWB's way of thanking the troops in the most personal way he could -- by acknowledging that they're sacrificing a lot to be in Iraq, and that he'll share that sacrifice.

Not home on Thanksgiving? Away from the family? Eating Army food? So was GWB.

Now the sophisticated types on the Calpundit comments board will look down on that, as they look down on GEB and look down on the people in our military (I've been visiting here for a while, so please don't deny it).

But the troops LOVED it. Not just the ones in the tent at the Baghdad airport, but judging by the comments I've seen on various military blogs and dicussion boards, all over. They GET it: GWB is one of them. He understands. He's not commanding them, he's leading them. This trip and the carrier landing are visible reminders of that, since for a military person what matters is not what you say, but what you do. GWB has demonstrated in a way that Bill Clinton never did that he understands their hardships.

For the person who criticized GWB's apparel, that was a P/T (physical training) suit; it's common issue to all the troops.

Aaron Adams should note that GWB also did business while in Iraq, meeting with the command structure and with members of the Iraqi Governing Council. That's good and it helps to reinforce what the CPA is doing. It's also had a positive effect on the Iraqi people as judged by comments on various Iraqi blogs.

To compare this trip to Hillary's is silly. The various fedayeen and Ba'athist thugs would certainly be willing to take a shot at her (and I hope her security is perfect, I want her home safely), but it wouldn't compare to killing the president of the US. GWB wasn't going to take a trip through Baghdad in a convertible, and to criticize him over this is irresponsible.

One valuable lesson I've learned from Kevin's board, and from blogs like that of Atrios, Josh Marshall and others on the left is that many of you have allowed your hatred of GWB to cloud your judgment. The VRWC had the same problem with Bill Clinton, and it cost them too. Please don't learn from history, folks.

Posted by: Steve White at November 28, 2003 06:43 PM | PERMALINK

Good post for the most part, Steve White. I would say, though, that there's a difference between dislking the military as an entity and disliking the people who are getting shot at.

But can you, or anyone else, explain to me how Bush Jr. can go AWOL in the National Guard and not have the soldiers spitting at him? I mean, apart from that Commander in Chief stuff. :-) My dad was in the Air Force for 24 years and ever since he found about Bush's non-appearance in the National Guard, he's been withering about him. I just. don't. get. it. why he gets a free pass on that issue from the military.

Posted by: Jim at November 28, 2003 06:55 PM | PERMALINK

Alternative Caption :

"BRINGING IT ON"

Posted by: pyts at November 28, 2003 06:59 PM | PERMALINK

spc67's and Steve White's comments are very interesting.

The Republicans and their fringe Right allies long ago turned lunatic hatred into an industry. Irrational, spittle-spewing bile became (and remains) daily fare on talk radio, in the opinion pieces of right-wing "think" tanks, in a slew of books, and even in the speeches of major Republican politicians (Rick Santorum comes to mind).

Even softened by "objective" reporting, the hatred permeated the media. For example, by reporting the utterly ridiculous accusations that the Clinton White House had Vince Foster murdered, the "objective" media spread the hatred and the lies.

And now people object to a headline like this?

I gotta say, I'm all for the "vitriol" that spc67 decries. I don't think we're shooting ourselves in the feet, I think we're rousing the rabble. And with enough more of it, we'll take out the current Administration like the French took out the Bourbons!

As to the headline itself, I too would have preferred something more objective. How about "Bush Stages Extremely Expensive Photo-Op, Then Flees Country; Soldiers And Marines Not Fooled."

Posted by: bleh at November 28, 2003 07:14 PM | PERMALINK

And now people object to a headline like this?

Um, exactly where did I object?

I gotta say, I'm all for the "vitriol" that spc67 decries.

Keep it up and you'll lose 40 states.

I don't think we're shooting ourselves in the feet, I think we're rousing the rabble.

That's exactly the way most categorize those who make comments like this, as rabble. Hardly sentiments many wish to align with.

And with enough more of it, we'll take out the current Administration like the French took out the Bourbons!

I like the head-chopping comparison. No you won't come off as a looney.

As to the headline itself, I too would have preferred something more objective. How about "Bush Stages Extremely Expensive Photo-Op, Then Flees Country; Soldiers And Marines Not Fooled."

You did see the footage, right?


Posted by: spc67 at November 28, 2003 07:38 PM | PERMALINK

The Daily Mirror in England also had the same headline, and it is not at all a left-wing paper.

Posted by: jw at November 28, 2003 07:46 PM | PERMALINK

w's little road trip was absurd but harmless. i can't think of anything more positive to say about it.

Posted by: Olaf, glad and big at November 28, 2003 07:49 PM | PERMALINK

More negative reports on CNN and WGN Chicago. It seems like most Iraqis are pissed; said they wanted the chance to show Bush how he has screwed up their country.

Back in the .com wave, when the bs flew constantly, the Gartner Group would chart the peak of the hype cycle, which was always followed by the "through of disillusionment". That seems very pertinent here. Bush's ingratiating publicity stunts hit their high water mark early, but then things seem to go downhill. The Iraqi people appear to be put off and the Washington bureau chief for Al-Jazera speculated that this move could embolden the insurgents because they could see Bush's sneaking in and out as proof that they have succeeded in making Iraq unstable. The photo op could have other consequences after all; like maybe another hit in Turkey.

Posted by: poputonian at November 28, 2003 07:50 PM | PERMALINK

Considering that George w. Bush's policies, his mendacity, his lack of openness, his refusal to "do nuance",his lack of curiosity, his failure to prepare, his simplistic orientation to complex issues, his desire to reduce everything to some kind of cartoon image, and perhaps most important, his refusal to consider that he might have ever been wrong about anything, have all led to the deaths of hundreds of U. S. service men and women, thousands of Afghanistan civilians, tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians, and the general destruction of international order - all in the name of "peace", "security", "freedom", and "demoocracy" - I actually don't believe there is any reason to be concerned with a headline.

Sorry Kevin, your priorities are totally misplaced. The death of even one of these would have justified any vilification for this piece of shit pseudo president.

Posted by: SOB at November 28, 2003 08:00 PM | PERMALINK

Bush obviously is doing his best, which is not very good, but one thing he can do is be friendly and cheer people up. Why begrudge him that, and why begrudge them that? I feel bad for him that this is all he can do, there really doesn't seem to be a way out for him.

Posted by: wellbasically at November 28, 2003 08:07 PM | PERMALINK

It reminds me of his "Mission Accomplished" stunt, but what difference does it make? He didn't kill anybody with Mission Accomplished or Bring em On. He's lost, I recognize that, but he's not going to lose the presidency because of Mission Accomplished. We're going to have to do better than that.

Posted by: wellbasically at November 28, 2003 08:09 PM | PERMALINK

Since when is the Independent an allegedly serious broadsheet?

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at November 28, 2003 08:38 PM | PERMALINK

I hereby declare all of you wrong.

There is nothing unusual about this headline, and if you'd been reading Britih newspapers in the 1980s you'd have seen considerably less reverent treatment of the president who was depicted as having a walnut for a brain - which he then lost.

And while it would be nice to see a president treated with respect, they do this only for the presidents they do respect, and they also probably don't see why they should treat Bush like a president, because he's not one.

But much as I despise Bush's lack of statesmanship and his wearing that stupid costume, he should not have visited Iraq as a statesman. The tradition is that the president visits our troops in the field on Thanksgiving. Not other heads of state, and not the people of foreign countries, but our troops. And since this is the first sign he's shown of even noticing our troops, that much of what he did was quite correct.

But he's still a turkey. And only military dictators wear military uniforms when they become heads of state.

Posted by: Avedon at November 28, 2003 08:40 PM | PERMALINK

spc67,

Keep [the "vitriol"] up and you'll lose 40 states.

Yeah, right, just like the Republicans are floundering, desperate to silence Limbaugh, Coulter, and O'Reilley.

Why do I have a hard time trusting the constant Republican advice to fight with one or more hands tied behind our backs?

Posted by: scarshapedstar at November 28, 2003 09:00 PM | PERMALINK

Avedon he was not wearing a uniform. Some one earlier referred to it as a P/T (physical training) suit. Clinton use to wear the same kind of thing when he visited the troops.

Posted by: Matthew at November 28, 2003 09:12 PM | PERMALINK

billyinbelfast writes (4:28pm):

Us Brits have a tendency to think of our leaders as public servants

I love it...I couldn't agree with you more. We deferential American's tend to treat our elected reps as if they are royalty...whereas you guys don't even treat your royalty as if they were royalty.

For example...I'd love to get in Rummy's face at one of his press conferences and say:

"hey Peckerwood...you work for me...I'm a taxpayer...and you a public servant...what don't you understand about the word "servant"....answer my question stinkface..."

On the other hand...it is kind of funny the way he cows the american press...A lot of times I find myself guffawing as he bowls over the spineless lot of 'em.

Posted by: -pea- at November 28, 2003 09:14 PM | PERMALINK

Jim asks: But can you, or anyone else, explain to me how Bush Jr. can go AWOL in the National Guard and not have the soldiers spitting at him?

GWB wasn't AWOL (I realize that discussing GWB's military record is futile on a liberal left comments board, but you did ask!). George magazine did a review of his service, and found that while GWB "served irregularly after the spring of 1972 and got an expedited discharge, he did accumulate the days of service required for him for his ultimate honorable discharge." The irregular dates were not considered unusual at that time, according to a number of Guard officers, and in fact many Guard officers then had irregular dates, even though they accumulated all the time required for their service.

The New York Times also did a review (found this at Andrew Sullivan's site). Some of Bush's irregular dates in 1972 came about as a result of his helping his father's failed run for the US Senate. But Bush made up the dates (allowed under the rules in force then).

The Boston Globe also did a review and noted that not only did GWB serve more than the minimum time, he was regarded by those with whom he trained and flew as among the best pilots in the 111th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (he flew an F-102, considered a difficult plane to fly well). In the first four years of his six-year commitment, Bush spent 21 months on active duty, well above the minimum required.

Again: reviewed by the NYT, the Globe as well as National Guard Magazine and George magazine. All concluded that there was no problem.

So I'd suggest that your dad should rest easy -- Bush was never AWOL, despite the popular meme.

Posted by: Steve White at November 28, 2003 09:46 PM | PERMALINK

Ha ha ha...

Bush just lands another photo-op and at least the UK has figured the guy out - no jumpsuit or feathers required.

Instabushie clubmembers will never understand, but....frankly I think it's okay to flap about the Juniors little presidential face shows.

Karl Rove dresses Bushie up and struts him out on stage like a dog wearing a tutu. You would think that Bush would get tired of being peddled about like a cheap whore. Neither Reagan nor Bush Sr would have let anyone dress them up like a cheap sideshow in jumpsuits and flightjackets. I guess Bush Jr. thinks of it as his public fashion show statement. That man must be gay, because I can't figure why any heterosexual guy would put up with Karl Rove's dress-up sessions.

I didn't want to say anything either about Bush's little jog over to the US troops mess hall in Iraqi but I think that the Independent is saying it about right - Bush Jr is turkey all gussy-up and stuff to max and than sent up on stage like a turkey on platter.

It feels like the world is laughing at us.

Posted by: Cheryl at November 28, 2003 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

"He's not commanding them, he's leading them. This trip and the carrier landing are visible reminders of that, since for a military person what matters is not what you say, but what you do."

When Mother Teresa spends years cleaning vomit-stained rooms for the mortally ill, that is an action. When a politician takes a comfortable plane trip to Iraq, it's a symbolic gesture. A symbolic gesture IS a form of "talk," not a form of action. Like the words "I care", the gesture attempts to communicate the message that "Bush cares"; and, like the words -- and unlike genuine actions, like Mother Teresa's -- the gesture could just as easily be communicating a lie as the truth.

People in lonely, dangerous conditions are often encouraged by symbolic gestures. (They are often encouraged by "mere" words also.) But only a fool would seriously regard such gestures as "proof acts" which were somehow quantitatively superior to "mere talk", and only a severely retarded poodle would swallow the claim that such "action" genuinely demonstrated Bush's firm resolve or deep humanitarianism or anything at all about Bush. If it cost Bush more in comfort or effort to be flown to Iraq and back than it would have cost him to practice and deliver a speech, the difference is utterly negligible compared to the cost in comfort the soldiers themselves pay every minute they are there.

Posted by: Jeffrey Kramer at November 28, 2003 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

The Boston Globe also did a review and noted that not only did GWB serve more than the minimum time, he was regarded by those with whom he trained and flew as among the best pilots in the 111th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (he flew an F-102, considered a difficult plane to fly well). In the first four years of his six-year commitment, Bush spent 21 months on active duty, well above the minimum required.

Again: reviewed by the NYT, the Globe as well as National Guard Magazine and George magazine. All concluded that there was no problem.

So I'd suggest that your dad should rest easy -- Bush was never AWOL, despite the popular meme.

-Steve White

On May 23, 2000, the Boston Globe ran a 2400-word, front-page story. “1-YEAR GAP IN BUSH’S GUARD DUTY,” said the headline. “NO RECORD OF AIRMAN AT DRILLS IN 1972-73.” According to the Globe’s Walter Robinson, Bush had missed all required Air National Guard drills for a year, starting in May 1972. “Bush’s evident disconnection from his Guard duties was underscored in August [1972],” Robinson wrote, “when he was removed from flight status for failing to take his annual flight physical.” At one point, Bush was directed to report to Gen. William Turnipseed, commander of an Alabama Guard unit. But “[i]n interviews last week, Turnipseed and his administrative officer at the time, Kenneth K. Lott, said they had no memory of Bush ever reporting,” Robinson wrote. And this: “Officially, the period between May 1972 and May 1973 remains unaccounted for.”

Did Bush skip a year of his National Guard service? Here at THE HOWLER, we aren’t really sure. But Candidate Clinton’s deeply troubling draft record was widely scrutinized in 1992—and Walter Robinson foolishly thought that the press would treat Candidate Bush the same way. “[T]he puzzling gap in Bush’s military service is likely to heighten speculation about the conspicuous underachievement that marked the period between his 1968 graduation from Yale University and his 1973 entry into Harvard Business School,” he tactfully wrote. Robinson framed his judgment in the most polite way. And he was totally wrong in that judgment.

Indeed, the Washington press paid little attention to Bush’s “puzzling” record. And no one ignored Bush’s service interruption any more than the “liberal” New York Times. Dean’s draft record would be limned on page one. But at the liberal New York Times, Bush’s “puzzling” absence from duty was almost completely ignored.

Just how odd was the New York Times’ coverage? On May 21, 2000, Nicholas Kristof began an intermittent series of biographical profiles of Bush. Most installments were roughly 3800 words long; on June 10, for example, the Times published a 3700-word Kristof piece about Bush’s days in prep school. And on July 11, the Times published the fourth installment in Kristof’s series—a look at Bush’s service in the Guard. But the story was only 1200 words long—and it didn’t even mention the flap about Bush’s missing year of service. It had been more than six weeks since Robinson’s story appeared in the Boston Globe. And New York Times readers still hadn’t been told that such a gap had been found in Bush’s record.

Indeed, the Times would mention Turnipseed only once before the week of the election. Oddly, the Times published another profile of Bush’s post-college years on July 22, just eleven days after Kristof’s piece appeared. This profile was penned by Jo Thomas, and yes, she mentioned the Air Guard flap. But she only mentioned the topic in passing, as part of a much longer, 3400-word work. She first mentioned the matter in paragraph 63 (out of 78). Here’s how she handled the flap:

THOMAS (7/22/00): When Mr. Bush went to work on the [Winton Blount Alabama Senate] campaign he was still obligated to serve in the National Guard, and accordingly he sought a transfer to Alabama. His original request, to serve with the 9921st Air Reserve Squadron in Montgomery, was rejected because the unit would not meet his military obligation. He requested another assignment in July, and the Texas Air National Guard recommended letting him serve with another Montgomery group, the 187th Tactical Recon Group, from September to November 1972.
On Sept. 15, 1972, the head of personnel for that unit wrote: “Lieutenant Bush should report to Lt. Col. William Turnipseed, DCO, to perform equivalent training.”

Questions about Mr. Bush’s military service arose in May when The Boston Globe quoted Mr. Turnipseed, who retired as a general, as saying Mr. Bush never appeared for duty.

In a recent interview, the general took a tiny step back, saying, “I don’t think he did, but I wouldn’t stake my life on it. I think I would have remembered him. The chances are 99 percent he didn’t.”

In an interview, Mr. Bush disagreed. “I was there. I know this guy was quoted as saying I wasn’t, but I was there.”

Emily Marks, who worked in the Blount campaign and dated Mr. Bush, said she recalls that he returned to Montgomery after the election to serve with the Air National Guard.

National Guard records provided by the Guard and by the Bush campaign indicate he did serve on Nov. 29, 1972, after the election. These records also show a gap in service from that time to the previous May. Mr. Bush says he made up for the lost time in subsequent months, and guard records show he received credit for having performed all the required service.

Do records show that Bush served on November 29? We’ve spoken with researchers who have studied this matter; they’ve told us that they don’t know what document Thomas meant, and that Thomas wouldn’t respond to their questions. Do such records actually exist? Robinson didn’t seem to have seen them. On October 31, he wrote a follow-up piece for the Globe:
ROBINSON (10/31/00): In Alabama, a group of Vietnam veterans recently offered a $1,000 reward for anyone who can verify Bush’s claim that he performed service at a Montgomery air guard unit in 1972, when Bush was temporarily in Alabama working on a political campaign.
So far, no one has come forward. The reward is now $3,500.

What’s more, a Bush campaign spokesman acknowledged last week that he knows of no witnesses who can attest to Bush’s attendance at drills after he returned to Houston in late 1972 and before his early release from the Guard in September 1973.

There is strong evidence that Bush performed no military service, as was required, when he moved from Houston to Alabama to work on a US Senate campaign from May to November 1972. There are no records of any service and the commanding officer of the unit Bush was assigned to said he never saw him.

“There are no records of any service” in Alabama, Robinson said. Plainly, this contradicted what Thomas had reported.

http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh112603.shtml

Steve White-
Can you provide the dates when those publications exonerated the charges against Bush being AWOL in Alabama?

Posted by: Scott at November 28, 2003 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

It appears Steve White is a member of the

Cult of the Fourth Wire

There are no known effective treatments save a change of government.

Posted by: Aaron Adams at November 28, 2003 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

The Brits have even less respect for Bush, of course, after a state visit preceded by such extraordinary demands as "diplomatic immunity" for snipers in the President's entourage, should they kill anyone -- in which case, said Downing Street, they would face British justice in a British court -- a state visit that also managed to infuriate the Queen. Bush's entourage is said to have done more damage to the palace gardens in three days than 30,000 visitors do in a year, and *that* story was widely reported too. I note that both stories had nothing, directly, to do with foreign policy. They simply showed Bush & co. to be arrogant goons, and yes, "goons" was the word the British paper used in the second story. A rude word for rude behavior . . . So I'm with your critics on this one, Kevin. Bush has earned every bit of the disrespectful press that he gets over there....

Posted by: Jean at November 28, 2003 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

Steve White- Can you provide the dates when those publications exonerated the charges against Bush being AWOL in Alabama?

Oh, you won't be hearing from him no more...

Posted by: dave at November 28, 2003 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

I find it very apt and applaud the Independent's headline. We have service people on active duty in Iraq who have to have their famlies buy them Kevlar vests, because the military "doesn't have the money" - yet we have Dubya swoop in for a photo op that likely cost many times what it would to properly outfit our personnel with the equipment they need - equipment which could indeed save their lives.
I think Dubya should have been further forced to drive through a combat zone without a bulletproof vest - with a bullhorn screaming "bring it on" in Arabic.

Posted by: Charles at November 28, 2003 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

Dave writes: Steve White- Can you provide the dates when those publications exonerated the charges against Bush being AWOL in Alabama?

Hi Dave!

To Aaron: I'm not sure of the Cult of the Fourth Wire reference, you'll have to enlighten me. Regardless, if there's a change in government due to the election, I'll smile graciously, take my lumps and start working on Condi 2008. I wonder if you'll also be gracious should GWB win in 2004.

Scott asks about my sources. All secondary (I'm not a reporter and don't claim otherwise); I was trying to get "quick facts" to answer a question here. Bill Hobbs wrote about this in May, 2003 at his blog (http://www.hobbsonline.blogspot.com/2003_05_01_hobbsonline_archive.html#93934189). He provides primary sources. I've read some of these in the past. I haven't read your article, can you provide me a URL? My thanks in advance,

Posted by: Steve White at November 28, 2003 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

Arrgh, I munged my comment to Dave, who actually wrote, Oh, you won't be hearing from him [me] no more...

You did hear from me. Sorry for the 2 1/2 hour delay :-)

Posted by: Steve White at November 28, 2003 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

Jeffrey Kramer wrote, People in lonely, dangerous conditions are often encouraged by symbolic gestures. (They are often encouraged by "mere" words also.) But only a fool would seriously regard such gestures as "proof acts" which were somehow quantitatively superior to "mere talk", and only a severely retarded poodle would swallow the claim that such "action" genuinely demonstrated Bush's firm resolve or deep humanitarianism or anything at all about Bush.

I can only respond using the words a soldier wrote to Andy Sullivan today --

Mr. Sullivan, I was present for the surprise visit by the President. It was truly wonderful to be there, and my buddies and I really are grateful that President Bush would take a real risk to come see u. He flew about 12 hours to spend 2 hours with us, he served food to the troops, but he never got a chance to eat himself, at least not until he got on the plane, I'd imagine. For 2 hours, the President walked amongst us, not a receiving line where we came to him, stiff and formal, but coming to us, reading our names on our uniforms and greeting us by name. He looked me in the eye when he shook my hand, he joked with some, whispered to others, spoke a little Spanish to my friend. 2 hours of almost non-stop motion, how exhausting after a 12 hour flight! He did it to be with us, and we appreciate it.

Now I've no doubt that Mr. Kramer and others will find ways to denigrate this soldier (is he also a "severely retarded poodle"?), and find ways to say that Mr. Bush's visit still don't matter. You're entitled to your opinion, but I personally put more weight on the words of those who were there.

Posted by: Steve White at November 29, 2003 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

"I had a funny feeling I might be in the minority on this...."

Only on your site, Kevin, only on your site. Not in America. Many of the losers who read your sight just don't get it. They'll have to live through a GOP landslide in '04 and they still won't get it.

Posted by: Robert at November 29, 2003 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

"..."hey Peckerwood...you work for me...I'm a taxpayer...and you a public servant...what don't you understand about the word "servant"....answer my question stinkface...""

Wrong, Pea...he doesn't work for YOU. He works for US...millions of Americans...including ME. And most of us out in America don't share your point of view. Boo...f-ing...hoo...you think beacuse you pay a few bucks in taxes every week that you get to jump the line ahead af all the rest of us to ask Rummy a question ? Dream on.

You don't like Rumsfeld...vote his boss out of office. Good luck...it will never happen.

Posted by: Robert at November 29, 2003 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin: Which of these upset you so?
1. There is a real turkey in the photo.
2. It may or may have not landed.
3. The implication G. Bush is a turkey.
4. Being called a turkey is a cheap shot, especially on Thanksgiving.

You must admit, all four have a certain degree of validity.

Posted by: bobbyp at November 29, 2003 12:49 AM | PERMALINK

clearly the editor of the Independant is a happy man - any headline that can create this much interest and discussion is obviously a great one...

Posted by: y_kiwi at November 29, 2003 01:09 AM | PERMALINK

It's kind of cute how upset Bush-supporters get when they realize that outside of their "sterile zone" there are all these people who don't rewrite their minds to automatically approve everything Bush does, isn't it?

Posted by: Jesurgislac at November 29, 2003 01:26 AM | PERMALINK

*snicker*

I guess most of the commenters here thought that the Wellstone memorial service/pep rally last year was perfectly fine, and that the negative reaction to it was right wing spin that wouldn't sway the moderate voters, not at all. . .

By all means, carry on. It's not like DC's electoral votes are in danger of going Republican, after all.

Posted by: M. Scott Eiland at November 29, 2003 01:40 AM | PERMALINK

The soldier quoted by Andrew Sullivan and Steve White said he was happy Bush came. I'm happy he's happy. He noted that Bush stood up and walked around after a twelve-hour flight. I will gladly agree that it was better for Bush to walk around and talk to the soldiers than it would have been for him to stand and wait for them to come greet him.

Neither Sullivan nor Steve, however, has yet found a soldier willing to go on record making the ridiculous claim by Steve which I was responding to: namely, that Bush's extraordinary willingness to walk and talk for two hours after a twelve hour flight was the kind of hard, tough "action" that proves he's a real leader of men. Maybe there were such soldiers making such statements. In that case, the only reasonable conclusion would be that some of our soldiers were capable of saying remarkably foolish things, which would be sad but hardly shocking.

You can rationally say that Bush's trip was a good gesture, a proper gesture, a gesture worth making. You can't rationally say that a fit and well-cared-for man's willingness to face the prospect of a little flight fatigue -- something faced routinely by thousands of people -- is evidence of the depths of compassion that great man feels towards those for whom he makes that grand sacrifice. That's the stuff of Dear Leader cults.

Posted by: Jeffrey Kramer at November 29, 2003 02:08 AM | PERMALINK

I guess most of the commenters here thought that the Wellstone memorial service/pep rally last year was perfectly fine, and that the negative reaction to it was right wing spin that wouldn't sway the moderate voters, not at all. . .

M. Scott, good point. Spun, but good point. The Wellstone memorial service was perfectly fine: the right-wing spin was objectionable and disgusting: it's unfortunate that the right-wing propaganda spread by the conservative-dominated media was accepted as fact by moderate voters who had no idea how they were being lied to.

Bush's visit to Iraq is perfectly fine: it merits no special admiration nor any special denigration. As anyone familiar with the British would know, a funny caption on a photograph is not considered, among Brits, to be "special denigration": just par for the course - adult political humor, in the best sense of "adult" and "political".

Posted by: Jesurgislac at November 29, 2003 02:46 AM | PERMALINK

I'm with Avedon, Jesurgislac et al. As an American, I'm vaguely irked at the disrespect towards my President -- "nobody picks on my little brother but me" syndrome -- but compared to some of the headlines I've seen in British papers, Bush got off easy.

Posted by: Anarch at November 29, 2003 03:17 AM | PERMALINK

It occurs to me that this was a nice thing to do for some soldiers by W (about freakin' time he did something nice for them) but that it also plainly as day indicates that the Mission hasn't been Accomplished and that things aren't going well.

Since when has the President of the US and commander in chief of the most fearsome military force have to sneak around to get into and out of an airport secured by the said strongest military in the world?

Either this was really dangerous, which indicates that the Iraq adventure is not going well, or it wasn't that dangerous but was played as such for maximum PR value.

Posted by: Michael Farris at November 29, 2003 03:53 AM | PERMALINK

You know, it's a bit rich to demand that a newspaper in a foreign country go easier on our politicians than they go on their own.

Posted by: Patrick Nielsen Hayden at November 29, 2003 04:58 AM | PERMALINK

Sweet!

The rest of the country is drooling over this, and the Democrat core is frothing at the mouth.

Go ahead, nominate Dean. Can you say "Filibuster proof senate majority"?

Posted by: Mike at November 29, 2003 04:59 AM | PERMALINK

Hey Jesurgislac you refer to:

"the conservative-dominated media"

The conservatives dominate the media? You must live in a fantasy world. I hope you have at least figured out what a military uniform is.

Posted by: Matt K at November 29, 2003 05:18 AM | PERMALINK

Does anyone on either side of this argument, or in the middle of it, seriously believe that any time that a President does anything in public that the event is free of political overtones?

When Johnson went to Vietnam, when Clinton went to Kosovo, and when Bush went to Iraq - this is 100% just to boost morale? Who are we kidding?

The reason that Bush gets so much criticism is that it has been widely recognized from day one of this Administration that this White House is the most politically motivated ever. Any one event is designed to distract attention from others.

In addition, the Bush crowd has worked overtime to build up the idea that criticism of the President is out of line. Period. Remember, there's a (never-ending) war on.

Well, I say "Thank God" for publications like The Independent that can be counted on not to swallow this nonsense the way that the U.S. media has. Another

Let's see. The U.S. is the strongest country in the history of the world, supposedly a democracy and in favor of "freedom". The President makes a brief stealth visit to a country where "major hostilities" ended more than 6 months ago but where security considerations don't permit him to move outside a military cocoon. Cable news outlets find this breathtaking. Other people have different thoughts. In many quarters, these thoughts are considered out of line.

What has the political process come to in this country where ideas are considered unacceptable?

Posted by: Joe Betsin at November 29, 2003 05:51 AM | PERMALINK

"As God is my witness, I swear I thought turkeys could fly."

Les Nessman

Posted by: Kip W at November 29, 2003 06:28 AM | PERMALINK

No no, Kip, it was Mr. Carlson who uttered that agonized mea culpa; Les Nessman was reporting live from the scene of "turkeys hitting the ground like sacks of wet cement."

Posted by: Jeffrey Kramer at November 29, 2003 06:36 AM | PERMALINK

Please. You anti-Bush, anti-US fobs just can't seem to stand the fact that in spite of neverending anti-Bush media propaganda, core Americans approve of GW and loathe Hillary and her worthless, lying pseudo-husband. Compare and contrast the thunderous welcome President Bush received from the troops in Iraq with the strained and staged responses from troops forced to "meet" with the narcisistic carpetbagger! Petulantly whining when you are intrinsically and conceptually wrong is far less attractive in allegedly mature adults than in my 3 year old. P.S. I'm in my 19th year of military service, spanning the last 4 US administrations. The only one not thoroughly admired and respected by the troops was Clinton - he was so completely detested that high ranking officers had to come out and order the troops not to be disrespectful when Slick Willie would appear for his staged troop photo ops! Deal with reality. Bush won and is doing the right thing for the US and all the jealous, penny ante, panty-waist countries around the world that are doing their level best ostrich impersonations with regard to the threat of international terrorism. You wanna whine and cry when you soil your socialist diapers? Fine...there are still enough real adults around to take out the trash and do the laundry....but when we are all gone, you'll only have yourselves to blame when you are left sitting in your own self-delusional poo.

Posted by: John H at November 29, 2003 07:30 AM | PERMALINK

You know, it's a bit rich to demand that a newspaper in a foreign country go easier on our politicians than they go on their own.

Yeah, seriously PNH, this is a BRITISH paper, if you're offended by our irreverence and humour stick to the American news, don't tell us it's "time to grow up". That's maddening to me (admittedly, just an irreverent Brit).

And, in other news, when's the US blogtopia gonna get round to mentioning the repellent Ian Paisley's success in our elections yesterday (hint, hint)? Or is NI not a sexy issue any more?
;-)

Posted by: billyinbelfast at November 29, 2003 07:34 AM | PERMALINK

ok...how about the drunken cheerleader has landed?

Posted by: tim at November 29, 2003 07:39 AM | PERMALINK

The conservatives dominate the media? You must live in a fantasy world.

Hmmm... no. The US media is dominated by conservatives. It's fairly obvious that this is so, from the free ride Bush gets compared to the harsh criticism that Clinton got. It's just that the media is dominated by conservatives who complain that any factual criticism of a Republican administration is "proof" that the media is dominated by liberals.

I hope you have at least figured out what a military uniform is.

Yeah, I was wrong there. ;-)

Posted by: Jesurgislac at November 29, 2003 07:58 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, lots of GOPers showed up late in this thread! Welcome, fellas, put your feet up.
"namely, that Bush's extraordinary willingness to walk and talk for two hours after a twelve hour flight was the kind of hard, tough "action" that proves he's a real leader of men."
Jeffrey, are you saying you've forgotten the memorable moment in October 1942 when FDR walked and talked for two hours? History will never forget.
OK, fair enough, FDR didn't because he was in a wheelchair. But still, sometimes you just want to see leadership.

Posted by: John Isbell at November 29, 2003 08:16 AM | PERMALINK

I guess that Kevin is too young to understand the reference "The turkey has landed."

It is an obvious reference--and contrast--to what Neil Armstrong said at the moon landing: "Tranquility base here. The Eagle has landed." Probably one of America's best PR--and technological--triumphs. In full view of the world.

In stark contrast to Shrub sneaking into Baghdad, and sneaking out before his presence there could be detected by the Iraqis.

Posted by: raj at November 29, 2003 08:26 AM | PERMALINK

"You wanna whine and cry when you soil your socialist diapers? [Y]ou'll only have yourselves to blame when you are left sitting in your own self-delusional poo."

Looks like Tom Friedman really got up on the wrong side of bed this morning.

Posted by: Jeffrey Kramer at November 29, 2003 08:33 AM | PERMALINK

John, some people don't understand the principles of leadership. I recently took a 14-hour plane trip, then got right off and drove an additional 120 miles. I told my wife this kind of sacrifice proved I was entitled to be commander-in-chief of our marriage, and you wouldn't believe the lack of respect that argument received.

Posted by: Jeffrey Kramer at November 29, 2003 08:44 AM | PERMALINK

How about the media has become corporatized (versus conservative). They work for corporations, they get paid by corporations, and since the conservatives are pro-corporation, the media, in many cases, naturally finds themselves aligned with conservatives. More a cultural alliance than a political position. Regardless of the label, it produces the same outcome, a Bush sympathetic press, in many cases

Posted by: poputonian at November 29, 2003 08:48 AM | PERMALINK

the depth of idiocy and childish, puerile hatred for W has now reached new heights, tho i suspect most of you will reach higher still in the months ahead. i am tempted to say that 9 out 10 posters here today are worthless saddam lovers who are in Dire Need of a steaming hot cup of Shut the Fuck Up, but that would be too easy, so i will just say: keep it up folks, please...keep it up. every ounce of blind, unrestrained hatred and bile that flies out of your pieholes is another blue state turned red.

enjoy your tasty beverage.

Posted by: cali white bear at November 29, 2003 08:58 AM | PERMALINK

Well it made me laugh when I went to the newsagent, and also pick it up in preference to my usual paper. So on that level it worked as intended.

The issue here is unseriousness, or maybe proportionality. If you think that GWB is pulling a stunt then there's nothing wrong with making that clear in the way you approach the story. Better to be thought flippant than pompous, at least in the UK.

Posted by: jamie at November 29, 2003 09:13 AM | PERMALINK

Re the Bush/AWOL thing being wrong: here's the links you were looking for:

National Guard magazine: here

Bill Hobbs summarizes: here, here, and here. This last also points to and quotes the New York Times and Boston Globe both stating the story is unjustified and unfounded.

Notice also that Bush did only about a month less active duty time than Al Gore, because Bush spent 18 months active duty to become a pilot, while Gore got an early out -- from the Viet Nam TO. His "tour" in Viet Nam was only about 8 months long, rather than the year most people did.


Posted by: Charlie at November 29, 2003 09:34 AM | PERMALINK

I use the links on Calpundit, and I keep seeing that dumb picture of Bush--right now is between Jack O'Toole and RealClear Politics. I'll be glad when it cycles a lot lower down!

Posted by: ann at November 29, 2003 09:42 AM | PERMALINK

Steve,

One valuable lesson I've learned from Kevin's board, and from blogs like that of Atrios, Josh Marshall and others on the left is that many of you have allowed your hatred of GWB to cloud your judgment. The VRWC had the same problem with Bill Clinton, and it cost them too. Please don't learn from history, folks.
What did it cost them? The 2000 election (nope)? The 2002 election (nope)? Media sympathy (nope)? We are learning from history: keeping your base satisfied with red meat seems to work, in which case you can hardly blame us for trying it too.

Posted by: Andrew Lazarus at November 29, 2003 09:42 AM | PERMALINK

Charlie, you still haven't explained why the NG commander in Alabama didn't remember Bush being in his unit, and why he missed his mandatory medical exam to continue his 'service' in that state.

Smarter monkeys, please.

Posted by: Dark Avenger at November 29, 2003 09:42 AM | PERMALINK

I find it HYSTERICAL that these idiot Democrats posters here yelling (falsely as it turns out) about Bush going AWOL will have to answer questions about Howard Dean serving in the Aspen Ski Bum corps during Vietnam...

Democrats are such hateful, spiteful creatures. The SF Chronicle printed letters recently to the effect that more troops dying in Iraq was ok, as long as it helped defeat Bush. And I'm sure a great deal fo the posters here subscribe to that. It's sickening. THEY'RE sickening. They're quite simply put- obsessed to the point of being irrational over the President. And he whups you time and again. He beat Gore (it was legit, GET OVER IT!) he managed to get the Dems to co-opt their positions and show their hypocracy to vote for Iraq war. He got PBA ban through. Tax cuts. Homeland Security Dept. The Medicare Bill. Historic mid-term gains in the House and Senate. GOP rise in governorships. And what do the Democrats have? They've filibustered 4 judges (and watch THAT hurt you when we start playing up the fact that Ted Kennedy called Latinos, Women, and African-Americans Neanderthals!) and have 9 idiots who put the worst possible face on the Democrat party with every public statement and debate. You have Zell Miller humiliating you with his book. Dean with his "confederate flag" gaffe.
So keep opening your mouths. The more vitrol, the better. Because the country is divided 3 ways:
1) Bush haters, who can't get enough venom out
2) Bush supporters, who laugh at you
3) The middle, who is RAPIDLY tiring of all the attacks, constant complaints and carping. Why else do you think Bush/GOP has generally let the Dems and their sympathisers in the media carry on a one-sided debate? Everytime you open your mouths, you drive people over to Bush. So please keep it up!

In the meantime. would it hurt even 1 of your democrats to say something along the lines of "I stand with the President in supporting the troops on this holiday"? Nope. Not a single one of you care about your country or soldiers. All you people care about is politics, and you can't even do that very well anymore.

Prepare for 4 more years of pain....

Posted by: Shark at November 29, 2003 09:55 AM | PERMALINK

Bush haters = his reelection.

Hopefully another Democrat will step up and actually foregoing the bashing and move towards the center so they actually have a shot in 2004. Right now all the haters are almost ensuring Bush will get another 4 years, its a shame.

Posted by: PJ at November 29, 2003 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Shark: No one disputes that Bush and the Republicans hold extraordinary power right now. They were in office when 9/11 happened and they leveraged the moment to consolidate power, not just to fight terror, but also for partisan gain. Unfortunately, power is not a determinant of equity, reason, wisdom, right, judgment, etc.

By the way readers, Tacitus is the one who linked back here to this link. Among other things, he asserted that the people here are insane and also Hey guys ... you're in a decided minority. I tried this comment on Tacitus:


Au Contraire! If you could zoom out a little you would see that you are the ones in the minority. One of the talking heads on cable made the point that Bush is a very polarizing figure just like Clinton was. This may be an interesting observation, and the two figureheads may have changed, but I don’t think the people at large sitting on the opposite sides of the line have changed. Today, it’s pretty much Bush and the conservatives against the American progressives and the rest of the world, just like before it was the conservative minority against Clinton and the rest of the world. Either way, in the world view, you are the minority. (Bush travels overseas in stealth and tight security, Clinton walked among cheering crowds. What a contrast.) The thing you do have to cheer about is that power has consolidated into a right wing grip, which for you serves to validate your ideology. It’s arguable who is the minority on the local level since 2000 was dead even and some say 2004 will be also. But if you take a world view, you are an isolated minority.

Tacitus didn't respond, even though he was responding to other posts, and I'll take his silence as his tacit (pun intended) agreement that the American right is isolated.

Posted by: poputonian at November 29, 2003 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

HRC supporters are accusing Bush of opportunistic PR?!?

Oh sweet irony.

Or is it hypocrisy?

No, its both.

Keep on showing your true colors, liberals. Might as well be honest about it and start cheering for an assassination.

Posted by: Alex F at November 29, 2003 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Since the left wing lives on false notions of fairness it is only to be expected that its members would find something unfair about the Bush visit. "The Democrats weren't invited!" "Hillary didn't get as much coverage as the president of the USA!"
If you know what's best for you, you will be pleased that neither of these states of affairs materialized. Why? Because the men and women in our armed forces absolutely hate the leading Democrats. I personally wouldn't have minded if Dean had showed up in Baghdad. The soldiers hate his guts for what he has said. Would Kerry have done any better? When he recently spoke at the Vietnam memorial, veterans turned their backs on him. What about HRC? Soldiers really hate the Clintons. Officers remember being shipped around the world so that Clinton could make America look like UNICEF.
If you look at the coverage of HRC, note how cooly the men and women in uniform receive her. People sitting around her at dinner seem as though they are forced to be there. And they are! Simply compare such scenes to the response that Bush received and you will know that the liberal networks did the left a big favor by not playing up HRC's visit.
Leftists: be true to your principles. You hate the military and want to turn it into a laboratory for social experimentation. You hate anything masculine, and for a brief decade believed that the world could do without the use of force (you still foolishly do, despite the obvious risks to life posed by inaction). Soldiers know all of this. So don't try to make up for your past mistakes of calling them "baby killers" and "criminals" with all of this talk of "but we all support the troops". To thine own selves be true. And don't expect that the Iraqis or the soldiers on the ground or the American people will forget what you truly believe.

Posted by: David at November 29, 2003 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah - Tacitus also considers Steve Bell to be a "vile individual" but never bothers to explain why. I conclude that he's affronted that someone with politics orthogonal to his own is such a brilliant cartoonist.

Posted by: Jesurgislac at November 29, 2003 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

Once again, Kevin, you show yourself to be above mere partisan rancor. This is to your credit.

I disagree with you on a lot of things, but your civic-minded attitude is what keeps me reading your blog. As a result, you have a chance to influence my opinion. The shrill, reflexive Bush-haters will never get that chance with me.

Posted by: Anonymous at November 29, 2003 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

"Tacitus also considers..."

Tacitus is a pompous ass. Why should anyone concern oneself with what "Tacitus...considers"?

Posted by: raj at November 29, 2003 10:55 AM | PERMALINK
be true to your principles. You hate the military and want to turn it into a laboratory for social experimentation. You hate anything masculine, and for a brief decade believed that the world could do without the use of force
Another "conservative" (sorry, real conservatives) who uses war as his personal Viagra. Posted by: Andrew Lazarus at November 29, 2003 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

What has the political process come to in this country where ideas are considered unacceptable?

The political process is fine. Want proof? Nobody bangin' down your door for your comments is there?

Some of us just think you're wrong. See, we get to speak freely too.

Posted by: spc67 at November 29, 2003 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, the Cult of the Fourth Wire refers to those who think, "Gee! President Bush really 'stuck' that Lincoln landing, didn't he?"

In other words, those whose statements regarding GDbuya reveal unstinting praise intermingled as the ocassion requires with excuses, rationalizations and apologetics for GDubya's um missteps.

Another example of a Cult member is one who discusses GDbuya's "success" in bidness without a trace of irony.

More examples available upon request.

Posted by: Aaron Adams at November 29, 2003 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

>Right now all the haters are almost ensuring Bush will get another 4 years, its a shame.

Nice try, but we are not going to stop pointing out that Bush is stupid, incompetent, and corrupt.

The truth hurts, I know.

Posted by: grytpype at November 29, 2003 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

Uh, 3rd wire would be sticking a landing. 4th is LSO head shake country. Dubya had that stick like I had Angelina Jolie last nite.

fouro

Posted by: fouro at November 29, 2003 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Jesurgislac comments: The US media is dominated by conservatives

Tell you what, I'll make a deal with you: I'll give you Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard and Sean Hannity's and Rush Limbaugh's airtime.

In return, you give me NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, and the editorial pages of the New York Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Examiner and Los Angeles Times.

And then we'll see in which direction the news media tilts.

Posted by: Steve White at November 29, 2003 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

In return, you give me NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, and the editorial pages of the New York Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Examiner and Los Angeles Times.

Steve, are you trying to claim that these news sources have a "liberal bias"...?

Take a reality check.

Posted by: Jesurgislac at November 29, 2003 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Andrew Lazarus asks about what Clinton hating cost the VRWC in his comment: What did it cost them? The 2000 election (nope)? The 2002 election (nope)? Media sympathy (nope)? We are learning from history: keeping your base satisfied with red meat seems to work, in which case you can hardly blame us for trying it too.

One should of course keep the base happy. But you can't do that at the expense of appealing to the middle; you need the middle to win elections. The VRWC hurt Republicans badly. In 1996 it forced a lackluster Presidential campaign, and kept Republicans from picking up seats in Congress.

The impending impeachment fiasco in 1998 kept Republicans from gaining seats in Congress. That was an election that by history should have favored the Republicans -- mid-term in a second term President usually goes to the opposition. Recall that the Republicans actually lost a couple seats in the House.

The VRWC didn't hurt Bush in 2000 as he wisely skirted their bile. But it contributed to the loss of 4 Senate seats, and that really hurt Bush in his first two years. The 2002 elections also could have been better for Republicans: Senate seats in New Jersey and Louisiana were there for the taking.

One could plausibly argue that lingering distaste from the VRWC has kept the country from going more conservative. That's fine if you're a Democrat. But it seems as if the Democrats are going to repeat this mistake starting in 2004. Have fun.

Posted by: Steve White at November 29, 2003 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Observed:

Posters here exhibiting a persistent, abnormal, and irrational fear of a specific thing that compels one to avoid the feared stimulus.

Symptoms include an inability to speak or think clearly.

Diagnosis:

Bushiephobia

So sad. Get thee to a therapist. Do it for your country. Do it for yourself.

Posted by: darleen at November 29, 2003 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Jesurgislac

if you are trying to claim that the editorial pages of LATimes or NYTimes are NOT liberal...

the reality check is all yours...

Posted by: darleen at November 29, 2003 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Seems to me the most hateful posts here are all conservatives spewing bile at liberals. Surely they cannot be anything but sock puppets to make Republicans look bad?

Posted by: Teaflax at November 29, 2003 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Jeffrey Kramer is disappointed that I haven't responded to this issue: Bush's extraordinary willingness to walk and talk for two hours after a twelve hour flight was the kind of hard, tough "action" that proves he's a real leader of men.

This is one example of action that military people appreciate. The carrier landing was another. I don't expect the far left to get it, but in the military there is a notion of shaed sacrifice. Bush's willingness to join this in two small ways, combined with his visits to the military on other occasions and his clear appreciation of military people, results in a military that returns that respect to him.

One other poster commented on the difference between Bush's visit and Hillary's to Afghanistan. That difference is real: the military folks by and large do not respect the Clintons because they never saw any respect given to them BY the Clintons.

"Real tough action" as demanded by Jeffrey comes in different ways, large and small. No one in Iraq expects GWB to pick up a rifle and pull guard duy. Bush's visit to Baghdad was a small one but it was yet one more way he demonstrated his appreciation and respect for people in uniform. That stands in sharp contrast to a number of national Democratic leaders.

Posted by: Steve White at November 29, 2003 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Steve claimed: This is one example of action that military people appreciate. The carrier landing was another. I don't expect the far left to get it, but in the military there is a notion of shaed sacrifice.

Yeah... and please tell me, Steve: exactly how did Bush "share the sacrifice" when he flew in for a photo-op on the Abraham Lincoln? The "sacrifice" made by the military personnel of the Abe was to postpone their return home for two more days so that the President could be photographed on their ship under a "Mission Accomplished" banner. What are you claiming Bush "sacrificed" to be there?

Posted by: Jesurgislac at November 29, 2003 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

This "Bush hatred" line of bullshit is just a security blanket for Bush's remaining supporters. They can't defend their Dear Leader on the merits, so they pretend any criticism is some bizzare psychological phenomenon.

This is especially clear when they claim this so-called "Bush hatred" is going to kill the Dems in 2004.

Wrong. 2004 is going to be a referendum on the worst presidency America has ever had, and Bush will lose so badly he won't be able to steal the election this time.

Posted by: grytpype at November 29, 2003 01:02 PM | PERMALINK

It is foolish to say that Bush hatred will undo the Democrats in the election. Nothing could be further from the truth. All that Bush hatred will do is add an extra drop of lubrication to the wheels of history that have foreordained Republican dominance in 2004.
When conservatives use the term "Bush haters" it is in mockery of the Clinton supporters who attempted to resolve all Clinton problems by saying that irrational, emotionally driven zealots were behind Clinton's string of scandals.
This is exactly the kind of analysis one would come up with when there is no rational basis for defense.
The major problem with the Democrats is that they are bereft of any ideas which deserve consideration for application to the world. Each Democrat candidate speaks about how Bush has no plan about Iraq. Has any offered a workable alternative? No. Every Democrat candidate's position on Iraq can be summed up with the following slogan:

"Vote For Me. I Would Have Done Something Different!"

Hardly reassuring to the soldiers, Americans, our allies, or the Iraqis, for the simple reason that the world we have to deal with is the world of today and tomorrow.

When we get to Democrat ideas about the economy it only gets worse.

Bush hatred is not the Democrats main problem, it is merely epiphenomenal, and is evidence of the main problem: nothing to offer.

Posted by: David at November 29, 2003 01:44 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, what Bush did was a good and proper thing for our troops. Sizing him up for a suit of armor and a white horse however takes things a bit far.

I think some here miss the point. This is a country with a military, not the other way round. Civvies have slightly different allegiances and loyalty thresholds than a volunteer military and they come in much higher numbers. It's true, many service members are inclined to look down their nose at an atrophied sense of honor and discipline they feel from a civilian population, especially the officer corps. And, the rush of seeing the big boss show up out of the blue has an incalculable effect on morale. That said, it *is* a rush, not a long term grafting of executive leadership onto the force. His was tactical presence not decisive strategic action and it has a shelf life. The casualty attrition, the confused rotations, the force stretching, the transit snafus and tour extensions and the generalized DoD paralylsis with regard to service streamlining initiatives impact the military and dependent families in many ways. That leaves out the lack of coherence on the ground in the form of the CPA's and CENTCOM's coordinated long term mission. The drip-drip does not stop because of some white meat and stuffing. You know it, Abizaid knows it, Bush knows it.

This is a family holiday, and many are away from home in hostile country. It is nice to be recognized for your work and commitment and sacrifice. But E's and O's vote. Spouses too. With ballots, and with their feet when it's time to re-up. A rush is a rush. And a year is a proverbial lifetime in the military in wartime as well as in politics. Your "sharply contrasting" democratic candidate is probably going to be some combination of two people who've saved lives and taken lives, neither of which is going to run and hide when somone takes a swing at them. Buckle up. A hallmark card this Thanksgiving is no guarantee that Bush should think about booking next year's flight into Baghdad.


Posted by: fouro at November 29, 2003 01:53 PM | PERMALINK

Wrong. 2004 is going to be a referendum on the worst presidency America has ever had, and Bush will lose so badly he won't be able to steal the election this time.

I'll take that bet. How much you got in the bank?

Posted by: spc67 at November 29, 2003 02:04 PM | PERMALINK

I'll take that bet. How much you got in the bank?

Spc, I'm not about to bet on the result of an election that's still a year off, when the Dems haven't even chosen the future POTUS/VPOTUS. ;-) Ask me again on 1st August 2004.

Note: I make bets of more than five bucks only when the winnings go to charity: charity to be chosen by the winner or agreed on in advance. Sorry if that strikes you as being no fun: I realized early on in life that I have a potential problem with gambling and I need to make a strict rule with myself about never risking a major profit or loss.

Though it's occurred to me while typing this that really, given how upset ardent Bush supporters are going to be at losing their hero, and how upset the rest of us are going to be if we have to put up with four more years of this aroyss vaffen der gelt in the White House, we should really bet in reverse of what we want to see happen. ;-) Just a thought.

Posted by: Jesurgislac at November 29, 2003 02:46 PM | PERMALINK

Jesurgislac: I conclude that he's affronted that someone with politics orthogonal to his own is such a brilliant cartoonist.

I assume you meant "opposite" here, not "orthogonal = perpendicular", right? If whosit's politics were orthogonal to Tacitus', they wouldn't even be talking about the same things.

[Sorry -- misuse of the word "orthogonal" is one of my pet peeves :)]

As for the rest of this thread...

Shark: Democrats are such hateful, spiteful creatures.

Mote. Beam. Thine own eye. Etc.

...hey, it makes a change from all those "pot+kettle+black" remarks ;)

Posted by: Anarch at November 29, 2003 03:27 PM | PERMALINK

Steve White-the sites you linked to don't really validate your claims. Hobbs just makes things up as he goes along. Each post you linked to Hobbs was a series of posts in which he made up some reasons why the story was untrue. Then in the next post he came up with new reasons after people called him on the erroneous original ones.

Each site refers to a non-available story in Georgemag.com that is inaccesable on the web.

The references to the NY Times are stories by Jo Thomas referenced in my original post who has never answered the question about which documents she used in her piece. According to people who have followed the story, the documents she refers to do not exist and she has never shown any of the proof of their existence.

The Boston Globe does not exonerate his absence from the Alabama unit. Hobbs uses dishonest elipsis to imply that is what they do, but if you read the actual article there is no exoneration.

National Guard Magazine uses the above mentioned George.com magazine article. It refers to it as comprehensive, but I can't access the article. I have to take the word of some freelance writer who resides in Burke, VA. Do you think if she had anything critical to write about the President it is going to be published in National Guard Magazine.

I still have not seen his National Guard record that either exonerates the charges or shows the extra duty he pulled to make up for his absences.

These are the facts. George W. Bush was the son of George H. W. Bush Congressman in the U.S. Senate and grandson of former U.S. Senator Prescott Bush when he went into the Texas National Guard. Your blogger Hobbs seems to think it is ridiculous that he got any special favors, since he came from such humble beginnings. Well my dad and three of my uncles served during Vietnam and my uncles all got sent to Vietnam. Two of my uncles came back and one was really lucky, because he got shot down twice in country. One didn't.

They all would have loved to get into the National Guard if they could back in the 1960s, but getting into the National Guard took some pull and none of them had it. Bush had that pull, and for Hobbs to state it doesn't pass the smell test is outrageous.

Posted by: Scott at November 29, 2003 03:45 PM | PERMALINK

I assume you meant "opposite" here, not "orthogonal = perpendicular", right? If whosit's politics were orthogonal to Tacitus', they wouldn't even be talking about the same things.

Sorry! When I said "orthogonal" I meant not quite perpendicular, but definitely at a completely different slant. Steve Bell and Tacitus don't so much have opposite politics as just utterly different ways of looking at the world, judging by Bell's cartoons and Tacitus's blog. I thought of writing "opposite" and then decided that didn't quite describe the difference. Slantendicular?

Posted by: Jesurgislac at November 29, 2003 03:59 PM | PERMALINK

Ya, it would have been more courageous if he got the military to fire some cruise missels at baby milk factories in honor of Thanksgiving. Lefties are assholes and I'd rather fight another civil war with against you pricks than send a single American soldier anywhere on the planet. Up your fucking ass you wannabe Frenchmen.

Posted by: Arty at November 29, 2003 04:44 PM | PERMALINK

spc67,

Explain again how the Republicans shy away from vitriol. I need a laugh.

Posted by: scarshapedstar at November 29, 2003 04:59 PM | PERMALINK

Bring it on, Arty.

Posted by: Scott at November 29, 2003 05:12 PM | PERMALINK

A president who lied the country into war, who screwed up said war, who ran up record deficits, who dropped the ball on the war on terror, who has made us hated and feared around the world, whos close friends are Al Qaeda funders and the guys who ruined our retirment.

and you think that

a) Strident criticism will only help him and

b) The American people will be within a light year of the necessary stupidity to reelect this man?

Posted by: Boronx at November 29, 2003 05:42 PM | PERMALINK

Boronx, your irrational hatred of Bush is precisely what will banish the Democrats to irrelevancy.

All I see are bitter, angry ad hominem attacks coming from you.

Maybe I'd respect the the al-QaeDemocrats if you had less vitriol and more positive discussion, like "All Democrats are traitors" or "Liberals hate America" or "Feminists have one goal: to see that as many abortions are performed as possible". But as it stands, you are the party of raving lunatics.

Posted by: scarshapedstar at November 29, 2003 06:00 PM | PERMALINK

Steve White is asked how a relatively facile gesture (the trip to Iraq) establishes Bush's bona fides as a "leader." His response is, essentially, that it's NOT just the one facile gesture, he can point to TWO facile gestures! There was the carrier landing also, where Bush showed his devotion to "shared sacrifice" by sacrificing something somewhere somehow and clearly it's that damn Hillary who just doesn't have this kind of righteous right stuff!

So, if there are any relatively objective observers still around: which side of this discussion has so personalized the debate that they can't quite think straight?

Posted by: Jeffrey Kramer at November 29, 2003 08:09 PM | PERMALINK

Fun thread. I don't usually get enough dumb right-wing comments. It's kind of refreshing. Hi folks.

Posted by: John Isbell at November 29, 2003 08:10 PM | PERMALINK

Sheesh. When you're wondering why Bush got re-elected in '04, come back and read these posts. Chances are you still won't get it, but these will probably be your best chance...

Posted by: Tim at November 29, 2003 09:10 PM | PERMALINK

BRAVO to the Independent.

Posted by: matter at November 29, 2003 09:51 PM | PERMALINK

"Uh, 3rd wire would be sticking a landing. 4th is LSO head shake country. Dubya had that stick like I had Angelina Jolie last nite."

fouro

Exactly! Maybe the pilot who ferried GDubya to the Lincoln was nervous, but he missed 3 and snagged 4. Yet, Cultists still believe GDubya piloted a perfect landing.

They wouldn't be in the cult if they didn't I suppose.

I'm not so naive to believe 2004 portends certain defeat for GDubya; however, it is a continuing source of amusement to see Cultists predict, soothsay and prognosticate GDubya's certain victory. Is there a special flavor of Kool-Aid© just for them?

Posted by: Aaron Adams at November 29, 2003 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry! When I said "orthogonal" I meant not quite perpendicular, but definitely at a completely different slant.

Well I'll be; you actually -did- mean (more or less) "orthogonal". Consider my objection withdrawn, and an apology put in its place. Teach me to try and read between the lines ;)

Posted by: Anarch at November 30, 2003 01:37 AM | PERMALINK

Boronx, your irrational hatred of Bush is precisely what will banish the Democrats to irrelevancy.

Is this going to be the republican line in '04? "Bush may be a horrible president, but the big meanies are being too hard on him! He needs your vote or he'll just break down and cry!"

Bring it on. I'll put heartfelt, loud, mean, honest criticism against your whining any election year.

Posted by: Boronx at November 30, 2003 02:00 AM | PERMALINK

Well I'll be; you actually -did- mean (more or less) "orthogonal". Consider my objection withdrawn, and an apology put in its place. Teach me to try and read between the lines ;)

Apology accepted. Your concern for accuracy in language is, believe me, much appreciated.

Slantendicular might actually have been a better word choice to describe the worldviews of Tacitus and Steve Bell, both to remove any possibility of confusion and for greater accuracy.

Posted by: Jesurgislac at November 30, 2003 03:04 AM | PERMALINK

I have to admit that this was one of the lucid posts on this board.

1) About the Uniform question: Actually PTs are an Army uniform and comes under AR 670-1 (Wear and Appearance). (I think the Marines also have a unform PT but I have never seen one for the Navy or Air Force). However, unless the regulation changed in the last year, 670-1 does not apply to General officers and cadets (ie West Point and ROTC). Since the President outranks all General Officers and since he isn't part of the Army it shouldn't apply to him. That being said, both President Clinton and President Bush have worn such outfits (flight jackets...etc). These are gifts of the command and they both wear them to honor the men and women of the Armed services. It is entirely appropiate of them to wear them: I would have a problem of any non-uniformed member of services wear Army Class B or Class A uniforms for example.

Second point: Criticism of the President. Sorry, read the paper any day (with the possible exception of the Washington Times) For instance todays Seattle times letter section: "Indulging to excess

For a good many years now, I have held the current administration's foreign policy in contempt."

There is no policy of stifling dissent: if you can show me (please email me with examples) otherwise I will retract my words. Listen to any democratic debate and if dissent was sooo dangerous how is it that Democratic Underground still exists?

Sorry, ideas are being looked at every day. Where is it in the this country when a simple trip of the President is critized for doing what is right: he sacrficed the chance to be with his loved ones on a day where family is celebrated to be with those who have placed their lives on the line. For some strange reason none of the Democratic candidates did anything remotely simular (shows me their priorities). Senator Clinton's trip also gets full kudos for also doing what is right...

Very Respectfully,

Jim


Does anyone on either side of this argument, or in the middle of it, seriously believe that any time that a President does anything in public that the event is free of political overtones?

When Johnson went to Vietnam, when Clinton went to Kosovo, and when Bush went to Iraq - this is 100% just to boost morale? Who are we kidding?

The reason that Bush gets so much criticism is that it has been widely recognized from day one of this Administration that this White House is the most politically motivated ever. Any one event is designed to distract attention from others.

In addition, the Bush crowd has worked overtime to build up the idea that criticism of the President is out of line. Period. Remember, there's a (never-ending) war on.

Well, I say "Thank God" for publications like The Independent that can be counted on not to swallow this nonsense the way that the U.S. media has. Another

Let's see. The U.S. is the strongest country in the history of the world, supposedly a democracy and in favor of "freedom". The President makes a brief stealth visit to a country where "major hostilities" ended more than 6 months ago but where security considerations don't permit him to move outside a military cocoon. Cable news outlets find this breathtaking. Other people have different thoughts. In many quarters, these thoughts are considered out of line.

What has the political process come to in this country where ideas are considered unacceptable?

Posted by: Jim at November 30, 2003 05:49 AM | PERMALINK

wellbasically, above, probably got it closest... the turkey has played into bush's hands. Most people aren't going to read the damned text.

And the guy who said you need to get over it is right. Bush bashers have now entered a zone of fools. You've got less than twelve months to find something positive to show me.

And BTW, I'm neither looking nor waiting.

Posted by: bill at November 30, 2003 06:15 AM | PERMALINK

The writers and the editors knew the tone they wished to convey when they chose that headline. Why pretend that it was an innocent reference to Thanksgiving?

Worse, perhaps, that the juvenile headline is the article itself, which tells us more about the writers' biases and prejudices than it does anything else. For some inexplicable reason, many British journalists are under the illusion that the presence of their name on top of a story means readers are interested in their opinions, or their blatant use of unexamined and unproven assumtptions, rather than their objective reporting.

Such flippant and arrogant catering to the prejudices and emotions of their readers may have a place in a cheerleading tabloid piece about some footballer's latest public stupidity or a leering photo-laden puff piece about a pop star, but it ought to be forbidden in any newspaper with a claim to legitimacy. Apparenty, the Independent thinks otherwise. It's clear, though, that the only differences between the Independent and, say, The Sun, are the dimensions of the paper they publish on.

Posted by: billg at November 30, 2003 08:44 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone who can't look on Bush's visit with a jaundiced eye is not in touch with the reality of events in Iraq, and the lack of planning for events in Iraq after the "war". It was pretty much a turkey shoot during the war, and we "won", only, we obviously weren't sure what we were winning. Now our troops are the targets in this turkey shoot. A visit by Bush to Iraq for Thanksgiving doesn't replace a failed policy. God help our troops.

Posted by: elizabeth at November 30, 2003 09:32 AM | PERMALINK

Raj, I'm not sending your mother any more support checks if you keep this up.

Tacitus didn't respond, even though he was responding to other posts....

'Cause you missed the point so wildly it wasn't worth explaining, popto. Most of the world doesn't revolve around HRC.

Yes, the American right is isolated. We only hold, alas, the Presidency, Congress, the Supreme Court, and, I'm told by the self-pitying left, the media as well.

It's lonely.

Posted by: Tacitus at November 30, 2003 09:58 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, presidents EARN respect by being elected, compromising for the good of the country, appointing qualified nominees in spite of partisan logrolling, etc. Now, which of the above have you seen Bush do?

Clever headline, and, frankly, a nation dating back to about 600 A.D. doesn't need to be told by any American to "grow up".

Posted by: serial catowner at November 30, 2003 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Hell, this is my favorite part. The "dummy" outflanks the opposition one more time (one wonders how long you have to do that before people suspect you aren't as dumb as they think?) and the left goes absolutely apeshit in response. Carry on, loyal opposition.

Posted by: Dave in Texas at November 30, 2003 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

GWHCUPOPS© *

GDubya's Whirlwind Hillary Clinton Upstage Photo Opportunity Publicity Stunt©

* (Pronounced - GW Hiccups)

"Bush's visit overshadowed a similar one a day later by Senator Hillary Clinton. A source familiar with the planning of her visit said
the administration was informed in late September that she would go."

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=1520&e=3&u=/afp/20031128/pl_afp/us_iraq_bush_rice_031128222956

"[GWHCUPOPS] began in mid-October when chief of staff Andy Card asked Bush whether he would be interested in going to Baghdad for the holiday."

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,104327,00.html

"Later, the president told reporters on Air Force One that he decided to visit the soldiers while thinking about how hard it must be for them to spend the holiday far from home and family."

"I thought it was important to send that message that we care for them and we support them strongly," he said.

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/28/international/middleeast/28PREX.html

Publicity Stunt Accomplished!

Posted by: Aaron Adams at November 30, 2003 04:07 PM | PERMALINK

Wow i didnt know so many CalPundit readers were complete fools.

I know none of you have ever served in the military but when a President takes a major Holiday and flies half way around the world to just support you and be with you far away from home even if it was only for 3 hours its a truely great thing. Whether Democratic or Republican. And thats what alot of you left wing whacky liberals can never bring yourselves to admit.

The troops and the Iraqi people were in shock that he was there and it was a tremendous gesture by our President.

If you cant understand that you dont have a clue in your brain.

Posted by: MikeC at November 30, 2003 05:29 PM | PERMALINK

MikeC, don't be so hard on yourself.


Bagdad Burning
is where you can get a feeling for what some Iraqis thought about aWols' visit there.

Posted by: The Dark Avenger at December 1, 2003 12:09 AM | PERMALINK

TO: Kevin Drum
RE: Headlines

it was fairly clever. However, Brits are not terribly aware if turkeys. Except in their knowing that we relish them this time of year, they are unaware of how cunning the birds are. For instance, were you aware that they never roost in the same tree twice in a row. There are a number of other little tricks they cunningly employ to stay ahead of their 'competition'.

Ben Franklin, who much admired the bird for these skills, suggested that we select it as our national symbol.

Bush is a lot like that; cunning.

TO: TDA
RE: Baghdad Burning

What a bunch of tripe. And a really poorly selected 'headline'...considering Baghdad is not burning. Anymore than Paris was in that boring movie.

TO: MikeC
RE: Observation

"If you [people around here] cant understand that you dont have a clue in your brain." -- MikeC

Target! Cease fire....

Regards,

Chuck(le)

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at December 1, 2003 04:08 AM | PERMALINK

I prefered the MAD satire:"Is Paris Boring?"

Yes, MikeC, it is a truly great thing to upstage one's political opponent, and have something to run in campaign ads next year.

You should always cease firing when the target you've acquired is yourself.

Posted by: Dark Avenger at December 1, 2003 07:04 AM | PERMALINK

For those of you saying that he shouldn't be wearing a military uniform, HE ISN'T! That is simply a jacket that says "Army" on it. Anyone can buy them.

Posted by: John at December 1, 2003 07:53 AM | PERMALINK

Anybody want to bravely share a indefensible tent in Baghdad with our troops on Christmas Eve? It seems like another 'bring it on' invitation for terrorists to attend the next important holiday meal. For Christmas, Bush will visit better protected family in the US.

Posted by: Boor at December 1, 2003 07:54 AM | PERMALINK

This may be too late, but there was a "d'oh!" post, which pointed out what all of us who were in the military know about this visit:

http://nielsenhayden.com/electrolite/archives/004139.html#004139


I would add that there were probably several thousand soldiers painting rocks, in addition to their normal duties. Also, that there was probably enough bizarre security precautions taken to screw up everybody's week, in terms of lost duty time, lost sleep, and lost access to whatever comforts were available.

Posted by: Barry at December 1, 2003 09:20 AM | PERMALINK

I would find it hysterically amusing, were it not so sadly informative of the lack of critical thinking ability on the left, that in the same breath that GW Bush is called "stupid", he is also accused of manipulating the deaths of over 3000 Americans on 9/11 to solidify his political control of the country. Perhaps those who so vehemently scream about GW's alleged lack of intelligence could explain how he managed to obtain a master's degree from an Ivy League university and learn to pilot a military jet aircraft, whilest Gore managed to flunk out of divinity school and was a "journalist" for a few months on active duty? Or how Clinton failed to obtain a degree while a Rhodes scholar?

Clinton sent our troops into Kosovo for entirely bogus reasons - troops who are unfortunately still there - for no discernible US security reason. He and Wesley Clark were bombing civilians daily for months for allegations of genocide which have been proven completely false. As I stated in my earlier post (as a 19 year military man - and still counting) whenever Clinton came to visit, troops had to be ORDERED not to be disrespectful. The 1st WTC bombing, the USS Cole attack, the Khobar Towers car bombing and the US embassy bombings in Africa all occured on Clinton's watch, and it was only to divert attention away from the impeachment vote for lying under oath that he launched cruise missiles against a pharmaceutical factory. Contrast this miserable record with GW, who has removed two corrupt regimes known to be supporters of international terrorism after a single act of war against the US. I haven't noticed any additional terrorist attacks against the US since we started going after them, but feel free to enlighten me in case I missed one.

Finally, you leftists who belittle GW's Thanksgiving Day visit to the troops as being nothing more than walking around for 2 hours after a 12 hour flight reveal your ignorance. Troops understand the chain of command. The duties of a private pulling guard duty are different from the officer in the tactical operations center drawing up plans, and the Commander-in-chief making the overall policy decisions. The troops get that concept. They deal with it. The difference between Clinton and Bush is that we in the military trust GW not to send us to fight and die for his personal political power, but rather for the good of the US.

Your exceptionally sour and hypocritical grapes are showing.

Sincerely,

John H.

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