Sunday, November 30, 2003

Like everyone else on Thanksgiving, I didn't learn about President Bush's trip to Baghdad until late in the day. Comment seems to be centering either on that trip being a nice thing to do, or a bald political maneuver. It seems to me that it was both. Somebody probably decided that some new photo-op stuff was needed since that whole aircraft-carrier thing just doesn't look as good now as it did way back when. And of course, a visit from the Commander-in-Chief is nice and all but it really doesn't do anything to change the fact that the whole policy-thing is going south in a hurry. So basically I don't think the trip was the great stroke of political genius the President's supporters seem to think it is, and I don't think it was the mistake that the President's critics seem to think it is. I'm with Atrios: obviously a photo-op, but a pretty good one – and that's it. And it does kind of speak volumes that the President spent two hours in the country he insisted on "liberating" and yet didn't speak to a single one of the people he'd "liberated".

I've also seen some weird theories floating around that this was hastily cobbled together when the White House learned that Senator Hillary Clinton was also traveling to Iraq, but that just seems bizarre to me. Ditto the folks Glenn Reynolds is linking to, the ones who are spouting the "They love Bush and hate Hillary!" crap. Of course they're going to be more excited about the actual Commander-in-Chief visiting than some Senator, even if that Senator is fairly high-profile. It's amazing how anything Bush does can reduce so many people on both sides into acting like sputtering doofuses.

(The only news coverage I caught of the President's Iraq visit was on The Today Show, which seemed to go out of its way to emphasize the staggering bravery of this whole thing, which I'm really not sure I buy. I mean, yeah, it was mildly risky, but NBC had a computer animation of Air Force One touching down in complete darkness, and then they showed a bit of the news footage some French reporters had of some insurgents shooting a rocket at a cargo plane, as if to say, "These insurgents could have brought down the President's plane, had he attempted his landing in daylight and had it not been totally secret!" Which, quite frankly, I very much doubt. I know that the President's plane isn't quite the piece of military hardware that the Harrison Ford movie depicted, but there is no way a couple of guys with a rocket-launcher could bring it down.)

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