Tuesday, December 23, 2008
George Bush and Dick Cheney have apparently invested vastly more time and emotional energy in meeting with and comforting the families of fallen soldiers than has ever been reported in the media.
For much of the past seven years, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have waged a clandestine operation inside the White House. It has involved thousands of military personnel, private presidential letters and meetings that were kept off their public calendars or sometimes left the news media in the dark.
Their mission: to comfort the families of soldiers who died fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and to lift the spirits of those wounded in the service of their country.
Good for these guys. It would be unseemly to leverage the grief of a soldier's family into a publicity stunt. Of course, Bush paid a price for this. Remember the phony charge that he did not go funerals because he wanted to play down the cost of war? Soldiers families knew otherwise.
Two questions occur to me. First, can you imagine Bill Clinton's administration even trying to keep such an effort confidential, much less accomplishing it? Second, will Barack Obama follow George W. Bush's precedent?
You're joking, right? Obama wouldn't meet wounded GIs if he couldn't bring his own media circus with him. He's already answered your question.
And Clinton wouldn't do anything (well, anything that wasn't illegal or unethical, I mean) without media coverage.
I think Bush and Cheney believe they are only answerable to their own consciences. They don't need a fawning press to validate what they do.
This has been an open secret within the military for years. On one of my arrivals to Fort Huachuca some years ago, one of the first things I saw posted on the wall outside the O-Room of my new unit was a photograph of President Bush running with a wounded soldier who had had a leg severed. He was running a 5k on a prosthetic, and the President joined him.
And this was in 2004. He's kept it up since then. He made a surprise Thanksgiving visit to the troops in Iraq in that year too.
I agree with you, but note that it is in the Washington Times because the White House gave interviews on the subject. This is a fairly transparent attempt to burnish W's image in his last days (not that there is anything wrong with that - lord knows he'll never get a fair shake in the NYT).
You have to be a basically decent person to do things like this. The answer to your last question, then, turns on the question of whether Obama is such a one.
It doesn't have to be military families (though that should be at the top of any commander-in-chief's list), but any quietly done gestures of decency.
So we'll see, won't we?