You saw some coffins and a quiet ceremony;
The “lede” of this Reuters article on President Obama’s trip to Dover Air Force Base last night made my skin crawl:
“DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Delaware — President Barack Obama saw first hand the human cost of the Afghanistan war as he welcomed home on Thursday 18 soldiers and Drug Enforcement Administration agents killed in Afghanistan this week.
“Obama, flying in his Marine One presidential helicopter, landed shortly after midnight in Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, home of the United States’ largest military mortuary and main point of entry for U.S. service members killed abroad.”
No, the president didn’t see the human cost of war. He saw some coffins and a quiet ceremony — that is, a small and sanitary portion of the toll. The human cost of war is far messier. It is blasted lives and unanswered questions. It is broken hearts and minds. It is widows raising children alone, and children who won’t know their fathers. It is mothers outliving their sons. It is as painful as life can be.
One commenter here I think accurately captured my view, as well as setting the author of the piece he was commenting on straight;
Yes, Barack Obama was right to see coffins coming back from Dover. However, he was wrong to take cameras along. He was leeching off of their sacrifice at a time when he is taking hits from left & right about his inability to make up his mind about what to do in Afghanistan.
If, like Bush’s trips to Iraq & Afghanistan, he had gone without bringing or notifying the press and there had been cameras there that later released footage of President Obama, that would be fine.
However, since the NYT article (before it was scrubbed) said that the pictures were taken specifically to show his concern over the decision in Afghanistan, that degrades this into propaganda, not true mourning. So, not only is he playing games with our soldiers lives, he’s playing games with our dead as well.
As CinC Obama should pay his respects to our war dead. What he shouldn’t do, however, is bring cameras along to prove something, whatever it is. It’s not what you’re seen doing, Sir, it’s what you do.
As to the NYT piece, Morrissey wrote;
Originally, the New York Times reported on President Barack Obama’s visit to Dover AFB and the arrival of fallen serviceman by explaining that the White House wanted Obama to be seen as concerned and aware of the sacrifices made in America’s war policies:
A small contingent of reporters and photographers accompanied Mr. Obama to Dover, where he arrived at 12:34 a.m. aboard Marine One. He returned to the South Lawn of the White House at 4:45 a.m.
The images and the sentiment of the president’s five-hour trip to Delaware were intended by the White House to convey to the nation that Mr. Obama was not making his Afghanistan decision lightly or in haste.
Following that link now, the second paragraph quoted is nowhere to be seen. The Jeff Zeleny report contains no editorial announcement of changes after its publication, and no indication of any retraction. Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette and Nice Deb both noticed the change, however, and Greyhawk also noticed that the NYT didn’t quite redact that paragraph from everywhere on its servers. The story now reads like this:
The trip was a symbolic one for Mr. Obama, given the gravity of his coming announcement of a new strategy for Afghanistan.
The image of the commander in chief standing on a darkened tarmac, offering a salute to one of the soldiers, highlighted the poignancy of a decision he is facing.
This is the human cost, Sir, and gratitude is appropriate.
Next time leave the cameras home, it’s not about you.