Although December is only a third gone, there has been enough good news about the Bush administration to wonder if Christmas is coming early this year. Unemployment, the one economic indicator that many in the media and on the left have been clinging to as a symbol of failed Bush policies, is going down and is now below six percent. Productivity has risen dramatically, and the Dow is poised to break 10,000 once again. To top this off, the president made a surprise trip to Baghdad on Thanksgiving Day to share words or encouragement and provide a morale boost that only the commander-in-chief can provide. Yet, despite all the good news, the White House press corps still seeks to find the cloud in every silver lining or the lemon used to make the lemonade.
Case in point is the White House press corps’ reaction to Bush’s trip to Baghdad. As a publisher and editor of news and commentary, I have received countless e-mails from Americans across the country who expressed their pride in and approval of the president’s actions. A woman in Texas wrote, “I have never been as proud of President Bush, and to be an American, as when I saw the picture on TV of our president stepping out from behind that curtain to visit our troops in Iraq on Thanksgiving Day. This was one of the highlights of President Bush’s presidency in my eyes.”
Another man wrote, “I think it is a great president that puts his life at risk to see our troops on Thanksgiving. We are a military family, and we know what it means to be there.
Those are just a couple of examples of the scores of positive responses that streamed in following the president’s trip. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive. Even the Democrats were somewhat muted in their response, throwing out token criticism to an audience who was not listening. However, the White House press corps apparently does not share the same feelings about the trip as the majority of mainstream Americans.
During White House press briefings this week, the media representatives bombarded the press secretary with questions about the visit to Baghdad. While Air Force One was in the air, an aircraft in British airspace saw the president’s ship and asked British air traffic control if it was Air Force One. This aircraft was first identified to the media as a British Airways commercial airliner, but it was later determined that it was a non-U.K. aircraft.
Because of the “serious” error of misidentifying the aircraft to the media, the questions were asked, “Why then did the White House, repeatedly, in two different versions, tell reporters that it was British Airways? How could the White House be so wrong?”
Despite the explanation by White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, the follow-up question was “Do you think, though, that this third revision of this story now, takes some of the shine off the President’s surprise visit to the troops?”
Takes some shine off the trip? President Bush surprises the troops and the American public with a visit to Baghdad, and the trip is supposed to be diminished because an aircraft that saw Air Force One was mislabeled? Are they serious?
Further questioning addressed the fact that the flight plan filed for the trip to Baghdad listed Air Force One (a Boeing 747) as a Gulfstream V. Despite the obvious need for secrecy in a trip such as this to a highly volatile area of the world, a reporter wanted to discuss “the legalities of filing a fraudulent flight plan.”
McClellan said that the American people “understand the security arrangements that are made in a circumstance like this,” and he is right. For security concerns, one would expect the flight plan to list Air Force One as anything but Air Force One.
Unsatisfied with McClellan’s response, the follow-up question was “So the White House has no compunctions about having misled the American people on this trip?”
Is this for real? Does this mean that every secret mission should be viewed as misleading the American public? That’s a lot of “misleading,” and if it weren’t done, there would be no covert operations at all. Just imagine the security situation we’d find ourselves in.
The reporter, still unsatisfied, asked, “I’m talking about having misled the public in thinking the President was at the ranch. In other words, that there’s a level of trust that has been eroded.”
Apparently, Americans should trust President Bush less now because he used appropriate security to provide a morale boost to America’s servicemen in Baghdad. Should Americans trust the president less when they see his motorcade and are left wondering which limousine has the president and which is the decoy?
The White House press corps needs to get a grip on reality and start reporting on the issues that matter. On the other hand, the American public has a duty to demand responsible reporting. If not, the left-leaning media will continue to report what they want you to hear — whether it is news or not.