Friday, November 28, 2003

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Good politics and a good thing to do

Matthew Yglesias takes exception to Bush’s visit to Baghdad here and here. His objections can be boiled down to three points:

  • How much “this little poll-driven PR stunt cost the taxpayers”;
  • Democrats weren’t invited;
  • “what the troops need is not a visit from the commander-in-chief, but a commander-in-chief who knows what he's doing. Similarly, the president doesn't need to spend a couple of hours with the soldiers, he needs to figure out what the hell is going on in Iraq and what he's going to do about it.”
  • To address each of his points in turn:

    1) My guess is that this did not cost a hell of a lot, in part because of the mission’s secrecy. Bush did not travel with his normal-sized retinue – according to this report, much of his Secret Service detail thought he was in Crawford, which meant they didn't travel with him to Baghdad. He did not travel with a normal-sized press contingent. The secrecy also meant that very few people were in on the loop, which prevented any large-scale activities. This trip was probably less expensive that a garden-variety stop in Chicago.

    2) As hard as this may be for some on the left to accept, the president is the Commander-in-Chief. There are some events for which Bush will be viewed as the head of government rather than the leader of the Republican Party. Does Matt seriously believe that the troops in the mess hall were going to say, “Huh, there’s the President. Wait a minute, there’s Tom Daschle!! And Nancy Pelosi!! Awesome!!

    Does this mean that this wasn’t a good political move for the President? Of course not. However, despite some problematic policies as of late, it is possible for a presidential action to simultaneously be the right thing to do and the politically savvy thing to do. This was one of those occasions. Those who criticize the president for the latter are ignoring the former at their own peril.

    3) I agree with Yglesias that the really important challenge for Bush and the administration is figuring out a long-range strategy for Iraq – and Matt should bear in mind that unless the long-term policy sorts itself out, this trip will backfire, much like that carrier landing.

    However, that was true whether or not Bush went to Baghdad. It’s not clear to me whether the time invested into this trip was so distracting that the opportunity costs of lost long-term planning (which seems to have made new headway) are particularly high.

    Furthermore, Yglesias may be underestimating the effect the visit had on troop morale in Iraq. The media reports indicate that Bush’s visit was warmly received by the men and women stationed in Iraq. Given the importance of morale in ensuring a constructive military occupation of Iraq and a transfer of power to Iraqis, I would think Yglesias would approve of such trips.

    UPDATE: Matthew Yglesias responds. Robert Tagorda has some thoughts worth perusing as well.

    posted by Dan on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM


    Alaa says it had an effect on Iraqis as well:

    posted by: dr.dna on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    I am always amazed at the ability that left-wingers have to know what is going on in other people's minds. Mr. Yglesias, for example, knows that the President's trip was a "little poll-driven PR stunt". It couldn't possibly be anything else, such as a demonstration by the commander-in-chief that he cares about our troops.

    I've never had the ability to know what anybody else is thinking; of course, I didn't major in philosophy.

    posted by: Jim on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    When Clinton went to Kosovo for Thanksgiving in 1999, the troops greeted him enthusiastically. And get this - so did the people of Kosovo. There were crowds in the streets and pro-Clinton graffiti on the walls.

    Just ask the Voice of America:

    "Mr. Clinton is hugely popular with the ethnic-Albanians in Kosovo -- who now make up nearly the entire population of the province. While in Kosovo, the President is expected to speak to some of the six-thousand U-S troops taking part in the NATO-led peacekeeping force in the province. Mr. Clinton's visit to Kosovo comes after a number of other high-level Western officials have journeyed to Kosovo. They include Secretary of State Madeline Albright and U-S Ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke."

    And did locals use rocket grenades to attack the hotels the other officials stayed in? I don't think so.

    Quite a contrast to a two-hour drop-in that's shrouded in secrecy because the policy has gone so badly wrong.

    There's the right way to run an intervention, and then there's the Bush way.

    posted by: Doug on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    The trip to Baghdad was precisely the kind of thing a President in wartime ought to be doing. So was the carrier landing, for that matter, though at the time and later I thought the campaign-style banner and campaign-style speech delivered on the Lincoln inappropriate.

    Servicemen and women sacrifice a lot during times like these, and being members of what may be the most traditionally hierarchical institution in the country value knowing that the guy at the very top of the hierarchy appreciates and thinks about them more than most civilians understand. Obviously Bush's trip could have political implications, and in this administration I'm sure these were given some consideration beforehand.

    But so what? Most of the things any President does has some political significance, and if it were up to me the ones that weren't integral to his job as President wouldn't be done. Visits of this kind to our guys overseas, though, are integral to a wartime President's job. I even nurse the hope that the Baghdad visit might strengthen in Bush the wisdom that Ronald Reagan knew instinctively, Bill Clinton never quite accepted, and Richard Nixon grasped intellectually but did not completely internalize -- most of the time a President serves his political interests best by being President, not by fretting about approval ratings or plotting the next campaign. There is some reason after almost three years of the Bush Presidency to think this a vain hope, but still.

    posted by: Zathras on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    Jim sez
    "It couldn't possibly be anything else, such as a demonstration by the commander-in-chief that he cares about our troops."

    Well, there's the little matter of obstinately refusing to attend military funerals.

    Put it this way, if you screw around all year long with other women, and then send your wife a pretty little card on Valentine's day, how sincere is that gonna seem?

    posted by: BP on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    I hasten to add, before anyone accuses me of being a Bush-hatin traitor, that while I applaud the visit I don't think Bush actually has pretty strong feelings for the troops either way, any more than run-of-the-mill politicos have a baby-kissing fetish.

    I think it's kind of childish for grown men to pretend otherwise of politicians. "Oh look! He really cares about babies! He really cares about factory workers from AcmeCo, Buttkiss, Nevada! He really cares about our troops!"

    posted by: BP on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    If he'd gone to a veterans' hospital and served dinner to some of the soldiers who have been maimed in this little adventure, that would have been really impressive.

    posted by: JMH on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    What is with the carbon-copied comments (eg, Doug's which has appeared word-for-word in about a half-dozen places)?

    Doug, just for your information, Kosovo was no longer an area with active combat, and no one was firing SA-7s at air traffic.

    posted by: Charlie on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    BP et al.: Presidents very rarely attend funeral services for soldiers. The left keeps asserting that this is an old precedent, but your memory is playing tricks on you, fellas.

    posted by: Matthew Stinson on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    The evaluation of this trip doesn't just rest on what's going on inside GWB's head. The manner of the visit is a big clue.

    Why the extreme secrecy? Wolfowitz didn't need extreme secrecy. Hillary didn't need extreme secrecy. Under cover of darkness and with a full military escort, Air Force One doesn't need it either.

    On the other hand, extreme secrecy gives you total control over the coverage and the element of surprise which the media love.

    Why such a very short visit? No time for substantive diplomatic or policy objectives. No time to go outside into the streets and meet Iraqis (which might have been possible in some of the more peaceful southern towns). Just enough time to put on a show and whip on out again.

    The motives in Bush's head may have been as pure as the driven snow, but that shouldn't necessarily make us happy. What's to be unhappy about? A stunning demonstration that the White House can take control of the media whenever it really wants to.

    Good for the troops, bad for democracy.

    posted by: tdent on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    Comments like this from people like Yglesias are actually very helpful because they display, in a way that most of the American public immediately understand, that the contents of Yglesias' mind are 90% partisan bile.

    It's even better that Yglesias can't seem to see this at all. He condemns himself out of his own mouth.

    posted by: JK on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    Dan's rebuttals are rather underwhelming.

    First, Dan speculates this trip wasn't expensive without offering any evidence to support such a claim. I'd offer the logistics involved in having AF1 cross the airspace of numerous nations--secretively--was enormously expensive.

    As was the security arrangements.

    One other word about security--it's being reported Secret Service details weren't advised as to Shrub's whereabouts; I find this dubious given the fact Ahmed Chalabi knew of Shrub's trip.

    Point two; a little bipartisanship would have gone a long way in muting protests this was a PR gesture. Especially, given the fact this administration has made it difficult-to-impossible for Dem lawmakers to make factfinding trips to Iraq.

    JMH makes an excellent point; had Shrub really wished to assume a role as CinC, a better gesture would have been to have dinner with the wounded.

    posted by: JadeGold on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    While Bush, on the whole, continues to make me think of Nicholas von Hoffman's famous description of Nixon as "the dead mouse on America's kitchen floor", I agree that the visit to Baghdad was a good thing to do, and people on the left shouldn't bash Bush over it. On the other hand, people on the right shouldn't be talking about a two-hour high-security dropin as though Bush had gone Rambo and come out with Osama in one hand and the WMD in the other.

    As for the Clinton comparison, his visit to Kosovo was five months after "the end of major combat operations." If things were more stable there, that should probably tell you something about how well planned the operations were, comparatively.

    posted by: Mike Jones on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    JK sez:
    "Comments like this from people like Yglesias are actually very helpful because they display, in a way that most of the American public immediately understand, that the contents of Yglesias' mind are 90% partisan bile."

    Well I sure didn't understand immediately that Yglesias' mind is 90% bile. You callin' yourself smarter than me, boyyo?

    posted by: BP on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]


    You remind us of the old philosopher's joke:

    Phil: That duck sure looks happy.

    Demea: Yes. - Of course, you not being a duck, you have no idea, really, whether or not it is happy.

    Phil: Yes, well, of course you not being me - you have no idea whether or not I really do...

    posted by: Art Wellesley on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    It's his job.

    posted by: Waffle on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    "It's his job."

    Well, at least it's been finally generally conceded that he was elected and everything. Only took, what, three years? :)


    posted by: Moe Lane on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    I'm waiting for the Conan-style editing of the video. Bush in the tent in the airport, saying "bring it on!"

    posted by: anne.elk on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    This should put the lie to flypaper theory.

    posted by: anne.elk on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    Good on Bush for visiting Iraq. Respect.

    Shame he couldn't find the time to actually meet anybody from the Iraqi governing council while he was there though. Seems like an inefficient way to spend 20 something hours.

    posted by: Andy on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    Um, Andy... he did. It's been widly reported that he met with 4 members of the governing council while there. Check google news and go to any of the articles, like:


    posted by: Michael on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    “Huh, there’s the President. Wait a minute, there’s Tom Daschle!! And Nancy Pelosi!! Awesome!!”

    I doubt very much if even a small percentage of the troops have the foggiest notion who Daschle and Pelosi are. One is far above the statistical norm if these names mean anything to you. In other words---you have to be something of a political junkie! I’m sure these brave soldiers, even those who routinely vote Democrat, appreciated the President’s special visit. Matthew Yglesias seems to be something of a partisan hack. My guess is that he would be saying the exact opposite if Bill Clinton were still in office.

    posted by: David Thomson on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    As I said at – I think the trip was a fine idea, but it's getting a little overblown. From Instapundit link:

    WHAT CAN PRESIDENT BUSH DO IN BAGHDAD THAT SADDAM HUSSEIN CAN'T? Appear in public. If that doesn't send a message to the Ba'athists and their would-be allies, I don't know what does.
    Except, Bush didn't appear in public. That's a sign of how messed up the situation is. Bush spent two-plus hours in a heavily guarded hangar at the heavily guarded airport. It's not like Clinton in Kosovo, who really did go out and address the Kosovars (who cheered him).

    posted by: Andrew J. Lazarus on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    I didn't realize until after I posted the above: Hillary did manage to get outside in Baghdad.

    posted by: Andrew J. Lazarus on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    David, drop your condescending attitude toward the military. While there are some in the military who don't pay attention to politics, we pay attention at far greater rates than the general populace.
    The rest of you,
    The situations in Kosovo and Iraq are far from analagous. Clinton never fought Terrorists, he appeased them at every possibility. The world changed when al Qaeda declared war on western society, and despite your fond wishes, President Bush recognized that his presence in Iraq presented the juiciest possible target, him being the commander-in-chief and all. Far greater than a single member of a 525-member Congress.
    Finally, I wouldn't call the Carrier-landing a backfire yet, since the campaign season hasn't yet started. Why play that card now, when it could be used much more effectively next September.
    Your viewpoint isn't invalid; you are entitled to your opinion. But I am confident that most of the people in this country do not share your negative views of Bush, or your negative view of his effectiveness, despite the left using the NY Times, Time Magazine, CNN, Newsweek, ABC/CBS/NBC, and most university classrooms as bully pulpits to spread misinformation.

    posted by: nathan on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    “David, drop your condescending attitude toward the military.”

    I have no idea how you reached that conclusion. My point had nothing to do with the military per se. The fact remains that most people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about politics---and this is not entirely a bad thing! God forbid, if the the masses are extraordinarily concerned about politics. This would almost certainly mean that the country is enduring horrible turmoil.

    posted by: David Thomson on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    Presidents rarely attend funerals

    Give it a rest.

    Andrew, I have visited at least 10 blogs where you are still pushing that "he was not in public" meme. All a carbon copy. Don't work so hard. ;)

    I think all these leftie's are pissed that Pres Bush's plane is still in one piece. It would save them the embarrassment of next year.

    posted by: capt joe on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    I apologize. I obviously assumed the wrong non-verbals attached to this:
    I doubt very much if even a small percentage of the troops have the foggiest notion who Daschle and Pelosi are. One is far above the statistical norm if these names mean anything to you.
    The implication I took was that military-types are below the statistical norm.

    posted by: nathan on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    That T-day dinner was served at 6am Iraq time.
    Odd time of day for dinner, no?

    posted by: ed on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    No, Ed, it was about 0600 Eastern time. That's something like 1400 Bagdad time.

    posted by: Charlie on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    capt. joe:

    "Presidents rarely attend funerals [...] Give it a rest."

    You might want to read the recent NYT editorial on Reagan's attendance at the service for the marines who died in Lebanon. For that matter, I think those critizing Bush on this issue would be satisfied if he visited a V.A. hospital and discussed how his budget will affect people there.

    "Andrew, I have visited at least 10 blogs where you are still pushing that 'he was not in public' meme."

    Hey, Andrew, you're prominent enough that you've got a stalker! On a more serious note, the use of "meme" to disparage arguments is an unfortunate meme.

    Moe - I think everybody agrees Bush is president - not quite elected, but president. You don't have to be hired to have a job - you don't have to work either. (See Chicago Democratic politics.)

    posted by: rilkefan on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    You might want to read the recent NYT editorial on Reagan's attendance at the service for the marines who died in Lebanon. For that matter, I think those critizing Bush on this issue would be satisfied if he visited a V.A. hospital and discussed how his budget will affect people there.
    Bush does visit funerals. He doesn't visit single funerals, however. It would be unfair if Bush visited Joey's funeral, and not Sally's. Instead, he visits "collective funerals", like that of Ft. Carson which he was just at a few days ago (which had significant deaths for one location). Or the visit he did in the UK. At both, there were no photographers or press. Perhaps that's why you didn't hear or see about it. If pictures were published of his visits, I'm sure the left groupthink would proclaim that as "politicizing" off their deaths. (BTW, Kuchnith (sp, whatever) was disgusting how he lifted the newspaper with pictures of dead troops. I happen to know a few people who died, and all their families support the war and Bush. Talk about politicizing).

    Bush is no Bill Clinton when it comes to funerals.

    Moe - I think everybody agrees Bush is president - not quite elected, but president. You don't have to be hired to have a job - you don't have to work either. (See Chicago Democratic politics.) What's that supposed to mean? Explain to me how Bush wasen't "elected". Even if the lie that Democrats splur about how the "Supreme Court Elected him", it's 100% legal (and in the constitution) that the electorate can tell the citizens their vote doesn't matter, and they can choose who they want for President. Though, that's obviously not what happened, but if it did (as some claim), it's 100% legal and legitimate.

    Anyways, why don't you just spare us and return to poking needles in your Coulter doll.

    posted by: Jettison on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    He landed in Baghdad at around 6:30 PM their time. I don't see how he could possibly have then had a dinner at 6am if he only stayed around for 2.5 hours.

    posted by: Kathy K on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    In my humble opinion, I think one reason this is sticking in the craw of some lefties, re: the "No Dems were invited!" whining --

    1) It puts in stark contrast the lefty pablum position of "we support the troops, not the war." Well, I, for one, think that the President sent a very strong message that he not only supports the war, he supports the troops -- not as token political pawns, but I sincerely think he thought this action as the CiC would show the troops that he recognizes their sacrifice and dedication, and he didn't forget about them during a time when most Americans are celebrating an important national holiday in the comfort of their homes surrounded by family.

    Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and I think many people will view this as a class act -- much the way he stood with the emergency workers/firefighters immediately post 9/11 (and the victims' families).

    Yes, it will have political payoff. Yes, you can Monday armchair quarterback the game plan to perfection. Yes you can throw in some strawmen re: costs, secrecy, etc.

    But note: Forever finding the ugliness in a humane gesture says a lot more about you than it does about Bush.

    2) Arguing that Bush not inviting Dems is PARTISIANSHIP -- Well, fellas, live by the sword, die by the sword.

    It's like complaining that you weren't invited to your neighbor's party after having spent the past year harrassing him.

    3) re: Tom Daschle and Nancy Pelosi, and the comment that if those names are familiar to you, you are outside the norm. What a condescending, "we're more intelligent than thou" attitude! That is a great flaw of the lefties that they are unwilling to acknowledge. Many, many, many Americans are politically knowledgeable, and you'd better devise a better defense against their disagreement with your views if you wish to remain relevant. It IS harder, I know, than just squawking about the stupidity of your debate opponents. It might actually lead to some enlightening discussions, rather than partisianship sniping.

    posted by: cj on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    Possible indications of eventual Missionaccomplisheditis or partisan sniping - remains to be seen - can be found here

    posted by: rilkefan on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    With all due respect to Alaa, the Iraqi popular response found by other observers seems much less positive than what he reports.

    And, Daniel D., I wouldn't jump too quickly in reporting "new headway" in the U.S. power transfer plan. There was similar optimistic spin that Sistani wouldn't object at all to the plan, and the Washington Post reported that Sistani is preparing another fatwa that will reiterate his demand for direct elections.

    In fact, I see that the New York Times (whose story you linked to) has posted a new article backing off that claim just as I was typing this.

    posted by: Swopa on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    Joe, I only wrote it on two blogs. I'm really flattered that someone else is spreading the word.

    posted by: Andrew Lazarus on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    “Tom Daschle and Nancy Pelosi, and the comment that if those names are familiar to you, you are outside the norm. What a condescending, "we're more intelligent than thou" attitude! That is a great flaw of the lefties that they are unwilling to acknowledge.”

    Wow, I must have really hit a nerve! The irony is that I’m a self described neo-conservative and not a lefty. My remark also transcends political ideology. It is empirically so well documented that it is beyond dispute. The following is merely something I quickly googled (there’s a lot more where that came from!):

    “No one interviewed at Price Hill Chili during a busy lunch hour, not even the few Democrats, could name the Democrat running against local Rep. Steve Chabot. (It's Greg Harris.) And almost no one seemed to mind that Mr. Chabot is essentially guaranteed re-election.”

    Most people simply care little about politics. This is an aspect of their lives that barely gets ten minutes a week of their time, if that much. The very fact that you visit a blog devoted mostly to political discussions probably places you in the 2% of Americans with such an interest. Most of our fellow citizens, for instance, couldn’t tell you the name of the nine Democrat presidential candidates if their lives depended on it. Only around 50% of those eligible to vote will opt to do so on election day.

    posted by: David Thomson on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    Hey Charlie, my comment is in a lot of places because I read a lot.

    And maybe the fact that Kosovo was not a combat area five months later is yet another sign of good policy at work. When the Clinton administration said that major combat operations were over, then they were over. By the way, Clinton's Army did a fine job capturing Baghdad. It's too bad that Bush's boneheaded politicals decided that hope was a good enough plan for the time after Saddam.

    And hey, I've just been reading that Bush didn't want to be upstaged by Hillary. That's a profile in courage.

    posted by: Doug on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    Hey, Doug -- If you read so much, I'd think your comments would respond to what you read. They don't -- they're word for word identical from blog to blog. I certainly understand the urge to repeat a particularly bon mot, but the word for multiple identical postings is spam.

    The fact that Kosovo was no longer a combat area has a lot more to do with the fact that the ethnic cleansing had been quite effective.

    And hey, the Daily Kos is not what I'd call a top source. Whoever that dope was apparently has a little trouble figuring out that Air Force One and the President would be a substantially more attractive target than just another Senator.

    Old Zen saying: the fool denies what he sees because of what he thinks.

    posted by: Charlie on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    I wish I could say it is surprising that Bush visiting Iraq is being turned into a partisan issue, but I am not. I want to see Bush beaten by a Democrat next year, but it also seems that one should be able to look past that on some occasions.

    The number one priority in Iraq is not seeing enough things go wrong that Bush looks bad, but seeing enough things go right that the region, America, and the entire World are safer in the future. With hindsight it seems that we might have been safer with the former status quo, but that is gone so we have to look forward.

    The surest way that we will fail from this point forward in Iraq is if our troops give up on Iraq. There are lots of stories out there about morale being low, and this is one specific thing that Bush can do a lot to address. His trip was about the troops. And he did a good job making those troops feel good about their mission (it might only last a few weeks, but given that he had a free day it was a great thing to do).

    Sure it might have been better if he spent an entire day in Iraq talking with Iraqis and formulating a new strategy, but that was not the purpose of the trip. Everyone can still get on Bush for not having an effective plan of what to do with Iraq.

    The thought that Bush would have been better bringing along a Democrat on his trip is a good one. I would not ask him to bring a Party leader like Pelosi or Daschle, or Presidential candidate, but I am sure that Bush could have found some Democrat who has a similar foreign policy agenda as Lieberman to bring along. I think that this would have made the trip even more of a political masterstroke and made many partisans even more frustrated at his trip.

    So let's just lay-off Bush for this trip, and get back to being critical of his other actions (i.e. limiting free trade, running huge deficits, alienating allies, etc.)

    posted by: Rich on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    I'm amazed that Bush was able to pull off this trip in secret. If he'd tried to include more people, the risk of word getting out would have gone way up. And it would have been reckless to go if guerrillas had been forewarned that the president's plane would be landing at the airport. As it was, the risk was justifiable.

    As for military funerals, presidents don't go in wartime unless they personally know the soldier who's died. Bush recently attended a memorial service in Fort Carson and met privately with families of those who'd been killed.

    If the Baathist-Jihadi guerrillas think this is Somalia -- kill some Americans and the U.S. pulls out -- they'll keep trying to attack our soldiers. The president needs to mourn U.S. casualties without encouraging the enemy to think their tactics are working.

    posted by: Joanne Jacobs on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    Charlie, Kos is merely linking to a mainstream news story about Bush deciding to go to Iraq after Hillary's trip plans were public. It's not in dispute. Now, after can imply causality and also can not, and I offer no evidence which it is.

    posted by: Andrew J. Lazarus on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    Gosh, Charlie, I'd never heard the word spam before. Thanks for clearing that up for me. And as Andrew just noted, the Kos story is based on a Reuters report. Unless you're from cloud cuckoo land, that's mainstream.

    Of course, your claim about Kosovo does suggest that you might be from that neighborhood.

    Clinton got the reception that he did there precisely because the ethnic cleansing directed by the Milosevic government did not work. The Albanians that the Serbs had driven from their homes were able to return because NATO and the United States intervened on their behalf. Clinton was welcomed as a liberator because he was a liberator for 90 percent of the people living in Kosovo.

    Now it's true that Albanians took revenge, and very few of the Serbs who lorded it over 90 percent of Kosovo's population now remain in the province. Maybe that's what you meant. Did you mean to say you were on Milosevic's side?

    posted by: Doug on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    When it first occurred everyone thought the landing on the air craft carrier was both appropriate and a great p.r. and electoral coup. It turned out to be neither of these. Karl Rove and George Bush will again come to rue the day that they pulled off the 2 hour in the dark of
    night visit to the air base in Baghdad.


    Because it was only two hours in the dark.
    The very secrecy that everyone marvelled at only highlights the failure of the Bush Cheney agenda ---because it had to be done in secrecy. Months after he declared combat over and the fall of the statue of Saddam

    Because he did not go into Baghdad in the daylight and meet either ordinary Iraqis or even any of his own appointed rulers of Iraq.

    Because he was fearful and ready to return at the slightest whisper.

    Why is that bad? The two hours in the incandescent glow of artificial lights of the base only highlights in the harsh glare of day the fecklessness and thoughtlessness of their Iraq policy before this scared little visit and the desperate calculation toward the 2004 election. This was a puny little stunt.

    This concern for the morale of the troops, also, is just a p.r. massage, and it, too, only highlights the callousness of his policy toward the troops from long call ups to threatening to veto the increase in combat pay to his evisceration of the VA health system.

    George Bush was an oppurtunistic coward during the Vietnam War and he hasn't changed since. He has been shown up by many others including many other elected officials; the prior President who anounced his visit to Kosovo in advance, shook the hands of the local populace in the daylight and was greeted with the joy of a liberator unlike Dubya. Oh and a certain female Senator stayed for two days and and also met Iraqis in the daylight.

    George will again find himself hoisted on his own petard.

    posted by: Debra on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    Okay, Doug, then you admit you're spamming the comments. Now, is it that you're still ignorant that it's considered bad form, or are you just a purposeful jerk?

    On the other question, though, no I'm not on Milosevic's side. I'm just pointing out that combat in Kosovo was considerably suppressed by the fact that one side was either dead or fled by the time Clinton showed up. Only a moron would have trouble with that point, but then I don't understand how one could know what spam is without knowing when not to do it.

    posted by: Charlie on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    re: David's comments about Pelosi and Daschle

    I am currently serving in the armed forces, and it is a fact that Nancy Pelosi's name is not familiar to most of my coworkers. A few more of them recognize Daschle's name (due to his omnipresence on TV while Senate Majority Leader in the previous congress), but not many of them know who he is, or would recognize his face. This is not the ravings of an offended sailor, nor is it the ranting of a disaffected lefty, just a recognition of the facts. Neither Pelosi nor Daschle are important enough to register on the radar of those who are not political junkies.

    posted by: timekeeper on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    "Democrats weren’t invited"
    I agree with Yglesias: there are many cases which look like a good PR and the President does not bother to invite the Democrats. While it is not needed, an invitation could decrease the tensions: imagine if "Mission Accomplished" was done with Gen. Clark, and "Thanksgiving" with Tom Daschle. The Democrats would have much harder time claiming that Bush is not "uniter" and this war is all about personal interests.

    posted by: GB on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]


    The problem is that GWB wears a lot of hats--he must; it's his job. The hat he was wearing on Thanksgiving in Baghdad was Commander in Chief, which is appropriate, because he was appearing in front of members of the U.S. military.

    Bipartisanship only enters the picture if Bush is appearing as the head of the Republican party--one of his other hats, but not an appropriate one for this occasion. As Commander in Chief, it is irrelevant that Bush happens to be a Republican. After all, on many occasions it would have been odd for Clinton, Bush senior, Reagan, or Carter to have made an appearance with a member of the Congressional leadership of the opposite party purely for the sake of partisan "balance" when that was an irrelevant issue.

    When Bush speaks to other countries, he is the Chief of State of the U.S. When he speaks to the military, he is the Commander in Chief. When he speaks to us as citizens, sometimes he is the head of the Republican party, and sometimes it is appropriate for another person to join him as the head of the Democratic party for the reasons of solidarity and bipartisanship, but not always.

    posted by: Sam Barnes on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]


    So, it's dark in Baghdad in the middle of the afternoon? They must be in the arctic circle for it to get dark that early. Trouble is, they aren't.

    Thing is, there are these things called time zones. Believe it or not, when it's dark in NYC, it can be light in Baghdad! The times given in the timeline are EST, not Baghdad time. Check your references before you type, next time.

    posted by: Slartibartfast on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    Slarti, I don't follow -- it's pretty dark here in Colorado by 1630, and it looks like local sunset in Bagdad is 1652 Bagdad time -- so 1730 is probably pretty dark.

    With that said, the recent polls show Bush doing very well here and very well in Iraq, so I suspect Debra's future as a prognosticator may be pretty dark too.

    posted by: Charlie on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

    Good point, Charlie.

    Dunno about other places, but here in sunny FL it's still not "dark of night" a half hour after sunset.

    But it's probably still true that those prognostications are pulled directly from a dark place.

    posted by: Slartibartfast on 11.28.03 at 11:38 AM [permalink]

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