in Courage it wasn't. Four days after the fortieth
anniversary of the JFK assassination, Putsch made
what Faux News trumpeted as a bold, unique, courageous
foray deep into enemy territory to show his love,
compassion and appreciation of the troops.
only trouble was, it wasn't bold. It wasn't unique.
It certainly wasn't courageous.
Presidents have visited war zones, of course.
And while some were unannounced (FDR's visits
to Teheran and Malta, for instance) most were.
Certainly. In this case, however, the security,
always suffocating with this paranoid and fearful
president, went right over the top.
media that came along (mostly right wing stooges
from the Faux "News" network) were enjoined to
utter silence, being advised that if there was
the faintest hint that word of the stunt had gotten
out, Air Force One would turn right around and
head straight back to Washington.
one point, a British Airways pilot spotted the
plane over mid Atlantic, and got on the radio
and asked "Is that Air Force One?" The pilot of
the presidential plane then lied, stating that
they were a Gulfstream 5.
plane landed at night, which is hardly unusual.
The fact that it landed without landing lights,
without runway lights, without even CABIN lights,
and with the control tower being unaware of the
craft's identity is very unusual.
International Airport is under American control
about as much as any place in Iraq can be said
to be under American control. The trouble is,
that makes for fairly tenuous control. While Iraqis
aren't free to shell and donkey bomb the airport
like they can pretty much at will in the rest
of their country, they can still fire SAMs, and
did manage to wing a cargo DHL craft a week earlier.
AF1 has more sophisticated defenses than a typical
cargo carrier plane, and we're told it isn't particularly
vulnerable to SAM attacks.
doesn't explain the security.
course, we saw this fretful need to utterly control
surroundings just a few weeks earlier in London,
where American security went so far over the top
as to bring their own chefs to cook Putsch's meals
(thus miffing the Queen, who takes a certain amount
of pride in Buckingham Palace's cuisine, and who
knows that the English stopped poisoning foreign
dignitaries some 500 years ago, and in any event
only rarely poisoned their own allies). They even
tried to get Her Majesty to slip on an identification
badge - in Buckingham Palace. (If I had been her,
I would have pinned a fiver on my breast with
a note reading, "Ooo do yer fookin' THINK
of course, free Americans are accustomed to being
corralled into "First Amendment Zones" so no hint
of displeasure among the peasantry might offend
the regal eyes of George W.
with freedom of expression have been "requested"
to do the same. Much of London was blocked off
to protesters to oblige the timid Putsch, sitting
in his bomb proof and bullet proof limousine with
the black windows, breathing the canned air (no
furrin' air for THIS boy!), staring out mistrustfully
at traffic on the wrong side of the road, and
at people who don't like country music.
trip was announced several hours after Putsch
was safely out of Iraq. It might have been quite
the public relations coup, like the one Clinton
scored when he went to Kosovo, or what Eisenhower
did when he went to Korea. But as soon as details
of the secrecy of the trip got out, a startled
public turned disdainful.
something wrong with that man. There's an old
saying that the tyrant fears laughter more than
the assassin's bullet, but this man seems to have
an obsessive fear of both in equal measure. Heaven
forbid he should ever encounter a laughing assassin.
The moment the presence of such registered on
George's feeble brain, the purpose of the assassin
would become moot, and a pooper-scooper would
be required to tend to the president's final proclamation.
difference was that in the case of Clinton and
Eisenhower (and other presidents to visit war
zones, such as Johnson and Nixon), the trip was
announced, and while precautions against assassinations
or other attacks were taken, it wasn't done with
the quivering, fretful paranoia and secrecy that
is the hallmark of this administration. Prudence
the public could understand; the extreme secrecy
and clandestine nature of this trip smacked of
timidity, and was quickly seen as a public relations
stunt. I thought of the actor who, while sitting
with a movie reviewer and watching his cinemagraphic
doppleganger hang from a cliff by a frayed rope,
proudly boasted that he did his own stunts. Only
in this case, the cliff was a matte, and the studio
floor was never more than a foot below the actor's
also reminded me a bit of the scene from "To Kill
a Mockingbird," when the siblings goad Dill into
running up and touching the front door of the
Boo Radley place. We need a word for excessive
courage when facing no danger, and maybe "dilly"
is the word we could coin.
days later, Senators Clinton and Reid (D-NV) who
had made announced visits to Kabul on Thanksgiving
Day, visited Baghdad. They did so openly, with
their heads exposed to the Baghdad sun. No sneaking
around, lying about their identity (at one point,
Putsch and Condi Rice pulled baseball caps down
over their heads in the hope it would disguise
their appearance) and in broad daylight. No cowardice
and Clinton made a bold stand. As for George...well.
It was a dilly of a trip.
people who have been saying that the number of
attacks against Americans in Iraq average less
than one attack for every million Iraqis are the
same people talking about what a bold move this
was on the part of president Chickenhawke of the
dinner with the troops was carefully choreographed
to produce the greatest amount of surprise and
delight, and the hooting and cheering troops happily
obliged. As would any audience; it was stage management
of the sort that often elicits cheers from audiences
at rock concerts, pep rallies, and pro wrestling
Usenet reader, Mhirtes, remarked, "Bush, being
'Mister Preemptive', was visiting the Corpses-To-Be
in advance so he won't have to deal with their
funerals later on."
there was a picture in many newspapers the next
day that showed Putsch with his arm draped around
a soldier's shoulders (black and female, of course:
The GOP never misses an opportunity to try to
politicize everything) and the soldier is smiling
behind them stand fifty or sixty other soldiers.
not one of them is smiling.
Posted: December 1, 2003