December 05, 2010

Off To War

What to make of President Obama’s recent “surprise” trip to Afghanistan to visit the troops? Certainly, having the Commander in Chief actually making contact with the troops is, generally speaking, a good thing. However, it is certainly fair, considering how little actual contact Mr. Obama has had with our soldiers, particularly those serving in combat zones, to wonder about his motives.

Recent news reports of Mr. and Mrs. Bush welcoming troops home at DFW Airport likely were not happy making for the Obama Administration. That Mr. Bush did not publicize those visits in advance, as he virtually always kept private his many contacts with the troops and their families during his years in office, speaks well of him, just as thinking or speaking well of George W. Bush has been quite impossible for Mr. Obama or his minions. And Mr. Bush’s recent media appearances in support of his best selling memoir, combined with persistent reports of his rapid and unexpected personal rehabilitation, are unlikely to have set well with the Obama White House.

Likewise, Mr. Obama’s political fortunes, to say nothing of his approval ratings, have taken a recent nosedive. What better to perk up those ratings and Democrat morale than photo ops, with Mr. Obama wearing a leather presidential flight jacket, and smiling troops? But there again, Mr. Obama came up short. In all of the videos and photographs I’ve seen, there has not been a single smiling soldier, just soldiers posed as backdrops, standing at parade rest, remaining professionally impassive. Remember Mr. Bush’s surprise visits? The joy and appreciation on soldier’s faces was genuine, spontaneous and lasting.

Let’s not forget that when Mr. Obama made visits to the troops at the beginning of his administration, his aides were caught handing out digital cameras to hand picked soldiers who supported Mr. Obama so as to give the appearance of spontaneous troop adulation and support when the media filmed soldiers filming Mr. Obama. Let us also not forget that virtually every public appearance Mr. Obama has made as POTUS has been carefully stage managed with hand picked audiences in hand picked venues to ensure the appearance of universal support and adulation.

It is likewise amusing to recall the outrage of the media and Democrats at the sight of Mr. Bush in genuine pilot’s regalia, outrage born of the ugly realization that Mr. Bush looked like a fighter pilot because he was, in fact--like his father before him--a fighter pilot and knew exactly how to wear the equipment and how to walk in it. Not only could he talk the talk, he walked the walk. Compare this with such images as Senator Kerry in a haz mat bunny suit, Governor Dukakis exemplifying the phrase “political weenie in a tank,” and now, Mr. Obama portraying...well...Barack Obama in someone else’s leather flight jacket. Contemporary Democrats just don’t do well in martial pursuits, whether pursuing them, directing them or speaking about them.

Ultimately, it is the troops who will decide whether Mr. Obama’s visit was motivated by a sincere desire to show his appreciation and support for them, or whether it was a cynical PR ploy to try to boost his badly sagging political fortunes. Our troops are very, very good at telling the difference. No doubt, Mr. Obama's cause will not be helped by the fact that his Justice Department did nothing to enforce the laws written to ensure that military absentee ballots were mailed in time to allow those serving overseas to vote. Those simple folks in the military tend not to forget such small oversights. Mr. Bush was the real thing, and they knew it. Mr. Obama? Not so much.

Posted by MikeM at December 5, 2010 10:09 PM

I thought that Mr. Obama was unconvincing in his very short visit to the troops. In the first place, he needs better handlers and better costumers for such photo-op visits. Real military aviators have their leather bomber jackets and they wear them often enough that they are well broken in -- a bit scuffed and abraded by contact with other protective gear. Obama's jacket was brand shiny new and looked as if it had never been worn before. As you say, CY, George W. Bush's jacket and other gear, which he wore on board the Navy ship, looked somewhat worn because he had worn them during his aviator days. We currently have a Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, who is also a former military aviator, and he looks pretty convincing in his leather bomber jacket too.

When you get right down to it, Mr. O is once again claiming to be something he isn't. You can't fake reality for long.

Marianne Matthews

Posted by: Marianne Matthews at December 5, 2010 10:58 PM

Let's be honest enough to admit that, although he trained as a combat pilot here in the US, George W. Bush did not serve a combat tour in Vietnam, and that John Kerry, as a Navy officer, did serve a combat tour in Vietnam. It was Kerry's actions after he returned from Vietnam and began an association with Vietnam Veterans Against the War that caused him to lose respect with many veterans. Other than that I have no argument with your commentary.

Posted by: Robert at December 6, 2010 01:55 AM

I think your description of the troops in the photos and video of the event as "professionally impassive" is spot on. They were there, whether they liked it or not, because they are professionals. When PrezBO attempted to make a joke about having to remain impartial for the Army Navy game, I think you could hear crickets chirping as I don't think a single soldier so much as snickered at the his attempt at humor.

Posted by: K. Erickson at December 6, 2010 10:48 AM

Robert, let's be honest enough to admit that John Kerry's "combat tour" in Viet Nam was severely abbreviated. He got his three Purple Hearts (and there's a real question whether a rose thorn size scratch in your arm, and a couple of grains of rice blown in yer ass after dumping a concussion grenade into a rice container qualify for Purple Hearts should count for two of his "three" Purple Hearts"). He was in country and gone within 30 days. Contrast that with a friend of mine, a First Lieutenant in the 101st Airborne who was "in country" for just 28 days. Gene got 3 Air Medals, a Bronze Star, and a Silver Star--and three NVA .51 calibre machine gun bullets in his face and chest--when he was leading an assault on a machine gun nest.

Jean Fraud Kerry's "tour of duty" in Viet Nam? Doesn't impress me much. Gene was a hard charger and paid the price. Kerry was only charging for the exit and a political career.

Posted by: Comanche Voter at December 6, 2010 10:02 PM

Dear Robert:

Thanks for your comments. Please allow me to add just a bit of clarification that many people, due the lamestream media's refusal to cover, may not know.

George W. Bush was rated in the upper 5-10% of F-102 pilots in the Guard (the F-102 was a very difficult and dangerous aircraft to fly, and particularly to land, requiring a great deal of skill), and he did, in fact, volunteer for Vietnam service. However, the war was winding down, his aircraft was not a type in use in the combat zone, and compared to other officers requesting combat assignments, his flight hours were lower. As he was going to leave the Guard when his hitch was up, he did not have sufficient time to take the training necessary to transition to a more modern aircraft. So you are correct in stating that he did not see combat in Vietnam, but as you say, to be fair, let's let folks know he tried.

Senator Kerry's dishonorable service has been more than adequately covered elsewhere, as has his arguably treasonous behavior after leaving Vietnam.

Posted by: mikemc at December 7, 2010 12:48 AM