Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
October 21, 2003
WAR: To Baghdad
I missed blogging this at the time, but Frank Gaffney had an important point on NRO two weeks ago that I'd been thinking about myself: to transform the debate on Iraq, President Bush should go to Baghdad:
By so doing, the president will have an opportunity to see for himself the facts on the ground. Having just returned myself from a trip to Iraq and meetings with most of the senior civilian and military personnel in the theater, I can attest that there is simply no better way to take stock of the conditions that exist — and those that are being brought about, thanks to ever-more-effective collaboration between U.S. and Coalition personnel and the Iraqis.
Mr. Bush's personal visit will also afford him a truly unique opportunity to convey a surpassingly important message to both our troops and the people they are helping to experience and secure freedom: We are unalterably committed to realizing that goal.
A presidential trip to Baghdad will also compel the American and international media to address the real progress being made on the ground in Iraq — not just the random attacks there and other over-reported setbacks. It should be accompanied by a call for news organizations once again to embed journalists with Coalition forces, ensuring that their success in securing the peace is as faithfully and as accurately covered as their success in winning it.
As Gaffney points out, both Powell and Rumsfeld have made the trip already, so the logistics of security should already be in place. Personally, I'd suggest that if bolstering morale is part of the mission, the president should go on a holiday to visit with troops who have spent more than a few holidays away from home -- Christmas would be best for that reason, but would probably be a non-starter (given the diplomatic sensitivities of being too overtly Christian a celebration), so I'd suggest Thanksgiving. Such a trip would hardly be unprecedented; Eisenhower went to Korea, remember. But if memory serves correctly (I could be wrong), no American president went to Vietnam.
Speaking of Vietnam, somebody needs to send a rescue party there to bring back Ted Kennedy, who's apparently stuck in a time warp; check out this hilarious fisking of his latest diatribe, which reads like something from a bad campus newspaper. (Link via Michele).