Tuesday, October 18, 2005

D'OH! Sure, I'll Believe That!

How Stupid Are We?

The other day President George W. Bush got to thinking how he could possibly make it look like he cares about the nearly 2,000 American’s he’s killed and the hundreds of thousand that he’s placed in harms way in Iraq. Since his support base is falling apart at home and it’s been quite some time since the Administration has done anything to receive positive press, George is apparently shopping outside the nation for support. In yet another display of brilliance, he set up a teleconference with the troops to ask how it’s going

It seems that the President can’t rely on reports from the Pentagon and his military commanders in the Middle East to let him know how things are failing to progress over there. As the PR people work over time trying to find different ways they can wag the dog, White House press secretary Scott McClellan reported on MSNBC.com the president wanted to talk with the ground troops that have first hand knowledge of the situation. He also tells us that the soldiers on the call were expressing their own thoughts and any coaching that was done was to avoid technological difficulties. It's also been reported at least two of the soldiers were public relations specialists.

Sure, I’m going to believe that! It’s been over 20 years since I was stationed aboard the U.S.S. Constellation and was privileged enough to have dinner with President Ronald Reagan and his Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. Things must have changed quite a bit since then because at that time, nothing happened by accident. Every sailor present at those meals was pre-selected and instructed as to what they could do and couldn’t do; what they could and couldn’t say to the visiting dignitaries. But I’ll believe that the five U.S. Officers and five U.S. enlisted men from the Army’s 42nd Infantry Division, along with one Iraqi soldier were just randomly selected and asked if they wouldn’t mind thinking of something to say to their Commander in Chief if he calls. I’ll believe that because I’m a stupid American.

Well, I would if I didn’t know that Allison Barber, deputy assistant defense secretary, had choreographed it down to what questions would be asked and by whom. She was kind enough to pare the direction of conversation down to just three topics. She told the troops that the President was only interested in the overall security, security for the elections and efforts to train the Iraq military.

While I can’t prove it, I’d bet the soldiers on the call to the president were selected largely in part because they won’t make any noise by asking for answers to what they really want to know. Questions like “when do we get to go home, or what’s your plan for ending all this, or why have you killed 2,000 of my brothers and sisters in arms?” Instead they responded to questions like how often do you train with the Iraqi military and how are the Iraqi’s handling the political process in Tikrit. I’m certain that’s what was on the soldiers minds.

The President must have been feeling pretty special when he started the conversation ensuring the soldiers that the United States wouldn’t pull out of Iraq until the mission is complete. That’s probably just the assurance they were looking for. It may have ruined their day if he said, “Men! I screwed up and I’m sorry! Now let’s get out of here!

“I think all they were doing was talking to the troops and letting them know what to expect,” McClellan said referring to the rehearsal. They stopped short of saying all the Iraqi’s and all the American’s really admire President Bush and love risking their lives for reasons known only to him. The one Iraqi soldier present for the spontaneous call did offer Bush some praise. According to MSNBC.com he gushed, “Thank you very much for everything.” “I like you.”

That sounds unrehearsed to me, but I’m just a stupid American who’ll believe whatever they tell me.

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