Thanksgiving in Baghdad
My Uncle Roy wants to know what I think about Bush's famous visit to Iraq last week. I mentioned the visit at both Thanksgiving dinners I attended this year, my aunt's and my brother-in-laws. My Cousin Michelle was dismissive in the extreme and was more than eager to go off on an anti-Bush tirade; amazing everybody familiar with my willingness and aptitude to destroy family gatherings, I chose to discretely close the subject. My Mother-In-Law's immediate reaction was positive; she is a dear woman who served in the diplomatic corps and is quicker than a whip at salvaging social occasions. In both cases I brought it up because I thought the event very important.
Some in the press have complained about not getting the chance to cover the story. More than a few would have liked to cover it well enough to have caught footage of every SAM in the Middle East heading towards Air Force One. It was frankly humorous to hear CNN and the New York Times complain about how they had been excluded from covering it. I am sure that the President's staff thought long and hard about excluding these people from the trip; it probably gave them the kind of soft warm glow normally found only in a bottle of really good scotch. Perhaps the CNN and NYT folks should watch more episodes of "West Wing" to understand the kind of smarmy self-righteousness the White House staff felt about this. Oh wait, only the politically correct get to feel good about harmless petty triumph over their opponents!
I have a notion how good it feels to have somebody care about me while I served in the military. My Uncle Roy and Aunt Maxine visited me for graduation from Navy boot camp. I will forever be grateful to them for doing this. My immediate family never showed even the slightest interest in coming to see me during my service except in those occasions when they were in the area for their own reasons. I have the feeling that they didn't care for what I was doing. I got that feeling after my sister told me that I was a worthless brainwashed idiot for defending the US and its interests. This was after I had spent three years on a half-crewed frigate breaking my heart to keep her a fighting part of the fleet only to have her decommissioned on me. It was not the best time of my life.
Building Iraq is hard work and the people who are out there risking their lives to make it happen deserve all the support we can give them. Regardless of anything else, President George W Bush has given and continues to give our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan all the support he can. I disagree with some of the deals he is making to get the votes he needs to continue that support. I do not think that he is accomplishing everything that might be done, but I see strong evidence that his administration is doing as close to everything they reasonably can as to not matter. Flying to Iraq, sneaking past vicious criminals, not further endangering the troops, and providing a clear appreciation for the efforts of dedicated people is in the highest traditions of service to the United States.