Nothing ever is as it seems
current mood: outfoxed
current song: "Over the Summer", Sparks
I spent much of yesterday--Thursday, Thanksgiving--being positively impressed by W. Rutherford Bush's surprise visit to Baghdad. After his months-long refusal to attend the return of dead American soldiers to US soil, his failure to visit any wounded soldiers in hospital, his shameful braggadocio, and general detatchment from the actual grit and pain of the war, this seemed like his first genuinely decent gesture towards the soldiers he's throwing in front of the rockets. The fact that it was also likely to score him points in the electoral race annoyed me, but I still thought that it was a decent thing to do, because it would be appreciated by the troops.
Well. Shows what I know.
My friend rickj is married to retired member of the USAF. She has this to say on Rick's Livejournal:
After being stationed in Las Vegas for three years, I can spot a dog and pony show a mile way. So, Bush took a few hours out to have lunch with the troops in Iraq to raise morale. I think a one-way ticket home would have been better, but hey.
First, let me say these little photo opportunities do nothing in raising the morale level. The people who Bush dined with were most assuredly hand selected. Most likely known by their peers as brown-nosers. Here is how it goes. Commander to First Sergeant, "I need five bodies from our unit to dine with a VIP." First Sergeant goes to the other senior enlisted and selects only those individuals that are as gung-ho enough. Did you hear the "whoops" as Bush was addressing the troops? These people never had low morale to begin with. Most likely, they are selected from career soldiers or people who just reenlisted. Now, did you notice their uniforms? Everyone looked they just got it back from the dry cleaners. Not your average Joe who has been turning a wrench on a Hum-Vee the past 12 hours. Also, everyone had their sleeves pulled down. After all, we want everyone to look the same for the photo. I can't tell you how many times we had VIPs visit in Las Vegas and we all had to have our sleeves down. It did not matter if it was 120 degrees, and believe me it often was. You also did not see people who looked like they may be pushing their max weight restriction. That does not make for good photos either. Nobody wants the president taking pictures with a big, fat slob.
As the morale for the others who were not selected... not so good. While these folks are eating turkey with Bush, you get something a little less palatable. Since the work does not go away, you have to perform their job too while they are munching away.
One of the comments to the original post mentions the idea that the decision to spring this "surprise trip" on the troops was made in mid-October, immediately after Hillary Clinton announced her plan to visit Baghdad this week. Way to knock Hillary out of the headlines while looking completely selfless and even brave, Woody. Bra. vo.
In general, I'm discovering that I don't have the brazenness or raw cunning needed to be an American politican. More on this later this weekend, I hope.