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Carriergate, PT 2

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  • Robert Sterling
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com I do question the motives of a desk-bound
    Message 1 of 1 , May 11, 2003
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      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Thanks,
      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist
      http://www.konformist.com


      "I do question the motives of a desk-bound president who assumes the
      garb of a warrior for the purposes of a speech."


      Byrd blasts Bush for 'flamboyant showmanship' with carrier speech
      White House says Bush address marked 'milestone'
      By Sean Loughlin
      CNN Washington Bureau

      WASHINGTON (CNN) --Blasting President Bush's "flamboyant
      showmanship," the Senate's senior Democrat on Tuesday assailed the
      president for his speech aboard an aircraft carrier last week in
      which he declared an end to major combat in Iraq.

      "President Bush's address to the American people announcing combat
      victory in Iraq deserved to be marked with solemnity, not
      extravagance; with gratitude to God, not self-congratulatory
      gestures," Sen. Robert Byrd, D- West Virginia, said in a sharply
      worded speech delivered on the Senate floor. "American blood has been
      shed on foreign soil in defense of the president's policies. This is
      not some made-for-TV backdrop for a campaign commercial."

      Bush's prime time address to the nation Thursday was carried live on
      television. The White House also won extensive coverage of the
      buildup to the speech with the president's dramatic arrival on the
      USS Abraham Lincoln. Arriving by a Navy jet, he made a tailhook
      landing on the carrier.

      Last week, the White House had said that such a landing was necessary
      because the carrier would have been too far out for a helicopter
      landing. In fact, the carrier was close enough to the California
      coast for a helicopter landing.

      "The ship did make much faster progress than anticipated," White
      House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said Tuesday, when asked about
      the matter. Still, he said the president "wanted to arrive on it in a
      manner that would allow him to see an arrival on a carrier the same
      way pilots got to see an arrival on a carrier."

      Some Democrats have criticized the landing as an elaborate and
      expensive photo opportunity for a president up for re-election next
      year. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California, sent a letter Tuesday to the
      General Accounting Office -- the investigative arm of Congress --
      asking for a "a full accounting of the costs associated with the
      president's trip." Fleischer said he had no estimate on the cost of
      the carrier event.

      The White House has described the speech as an appropriate
      acknowledgment of a "milestone" in the war against terrorism and also
      as a way of thanking the men and women in the armed services who
      participated in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

      Byrd's speech was the most pointed and stinging commentary about the
      matter from a lawmaker.

      "As I watched the president's fighter jet swoop down onto the deck of
      the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, I could not help but contrast
      the reported simple dignity of President Lincoln at Gettysburg with
      the flamboyant showmanship of President Bush aboard the USS Abraham
      Lincoln," Byrd said.

      Byrd, who has been a persistent and vocal critic of Bush's policies
      toward Iraq, said a "salute" to America's warriors was appropriate,
      but he added, "I do question the motives of a desk-bound president
      who assumes the garb of a warrior for the purposes of a speech."

      Byrd opposed a resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq.

      Scott McClellan, a White House spokesman, told CNN the president
      was "honored" to visit the carrier as commander in chief
      and "personally thank our men and women in the military for a job
      well done."

      Asked about Byrd's specific criticism of Bush's unusual arrival on
      the carrier, McClellan referred back to his comment about the
      president wanting to thank the armed forces in person.

      "I think I've addressed that," McClellan said.

      --Capitol Hill Producer Ted Barrett contributed to this report.

      *****

      Senator Robert Byrd
      For more information, call (202) 224-3904.
      May 06, 2003
      Making the Military a Stage Prop for Politics

      In my 50 years as a member of Congress, I have had the privilege to
      witness the defining rhetorical moments of a number of American
      presidents. I have listened spellbound to the soaring oratory of
      John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. I have listened grimly to the
      painful soul-searching of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon.

      Presidential speeches are an important marker of any President's
      legacy. These are the tangible moments that history seizes upon and
      records for posterity. For this reason, I was deeply troubled by
      both the content and the context of President Bush's remarks to the
      American people last week marking the end of the combat phase of the
      war in Iraq. As I watched the President's fighter jet swoop down
      onto the deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, I could not
      help but contrast the reported simple dignity of President Lincoln at
      Gettysburg with the flamboyant showmanship of President Bush aboard
      the USS Abraham Lincoln.

      President Bush's address to the American people announcing combat
      victory in Iraq deserved to be marked with solemnity, not
      extravagance; with gratitude to God, not self-congratulatory
      gestures. American blood has been shed on foreign soil in defense of
      the President's policies. This is not some made-for-TV backdrop for
      a campaign commercial. This is real life, and real lives have been
      lost. To me, it is an affront to the Americans killed or injured in
      Iraq for the President to exploit the trappings of war for the
      momentary spectacle of a speech. I do not begrudge his salute to
      America's warriors aboard the carrier Lincoln, for they have
      performed bravely and skillfully, as have their countrymen still in
      Iraq, but I do question the motives of a deskbound President who
      assumes the garb of a warrior for the purposes of a speech.

      As I watched the President's speech, before the great banner
      proclaiming "Mission Accomplished," I could not help but be reminded
      of the tobacco barns of my youth, which served as country road
      advertising backdrops for the slogans of chewing tobacco purveyors.
      I am loath to think of an aircraft carrier being used as an
      advertising backdrop for a presidential political slogan, and yet
      that is what I saw.

      What I heard the President say also disturbed me. It may make for
      grand theater to describe Saddam Hussein as an ally of al Qaeda or to
      characterize the fall of Baghdad as a victory in the war on terror,
      but stirring rhetoric does not necessarily reflect sobering reality.
      Not one of the 19 September 11th hijackers was an Iraqi. In fact,
      there is not a shred of evidence to link the September 11 attack on
      the United States to Iraq. There is no doubt in my mind that Saddam
      Hussein was an evil despot who brought great suffering to the Iraqi
      people, and there is no doubt in my mind that he encouraged and
      rewarded acts of terrorism against Israel. But his crimes are not
      those of Osama bin Laden, and bringing Saddam Hussein to justice will
      not bring justice to the victims of 9-11. The United States has made
      great progress in its efforts to disrupt and destroy the al Qaeda
      terror network. We can take solace and satisfaction in that fact. We
      should not risk tarnishing those very real accomplishments by
      trumpeting victory in Iraq as a victory over Osama bin Laden.

      We are reminded in the gospel of Saint Luke, "For unto whomsoever
      much is given, of him shall be much required." Surely the same can
      be said of any American president. We expect, nay demand, that our
      leaders be scrupulous in the truth and faithful to the facts. We do
      not seek theatrics or hyperbole. We do not require the stage
      management of our victories. The men and women of the United States
      military are to be saluted for their valor and sacrifice in Iraq.
      Their heroics and quiet resolve speak for themselves. The prowess and
      professionalism of America's military forces do not need to be
      embellished by the gaudy excesses of a political campaign.

      War is not theater, and victory is not a campaign slogan. I join with
      the President and all Americans in expressing heartfelt thanks and
      gratitude to our men and women in uniform for their service to our
      country, and for the sacrifices that they have made on our behalf.
      But on this point I differ with the President: I believe that our
      military forces deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, and
      not used as stage props to embellish a presidential speech.

      *****

      Democrats Question Cost of Bush's Sea Landing
      Wednesday, May 7, 2003

      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats in Congress on Wednesday demanded to
      know the costs of President Bush's jet landing on an aircraft carrier
      last week that they branded a costly political stunt.

      The Bush administration disclosed on Tuesday that Bush insisted on
      landing on the USS Lincoln in a S-3B Viking jet even though the
      carrier was within helicopter range because he wanted to share the
      pilots' experience. The ship was returning from the Gulf region after
      the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

      Democrats on the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee
      said costs could top $1 million. They included delaying the USS
      Lincoln that was steaming from the Gulf to San Diego, California, an
      extra day of air patrols, keeping the crew at sea, presidential
      security and flying Bush to the ship.

      The Democrats issued a news release headed 'shameless' in large red
      type that cited the 'nerve required to delay the return of 4,000
      sailors to their families after 10 months at sea in order to stage
      (a) photo-op.'

      Bush, wearing a flight suit, made a jet landing and posed with crew
      members to mark the end of major combat in Iraq. The landing was
      widely televised and received extensive media coverage throughout the
      day.

      Rep. Henry Waxman of California, the House Government Reform
      Committee's top Democrat, called for the General Accounting Office to
      examine the costs.

      A Navy official, speaking on condition of anonymity, disputed that
      Bush's visit added significant costs, and said it did not delay the
      carrier's return to its home port in Washington state.

      'The operating cost of an aircraft carrier is about a million dollars
      a day. But it got to where it was supposed to be on time,' he said.

      The White House said the Lincoln had made faster progress than
      expected and was 30 miles offshore for the presidential visit.

      White House spokesman Ari Fleischer rejected charges that the jet
      landing was political theater.

      'I think that the 5,000 sailors on that ship recognized this for what
      it was, the president going out there to say thank you to those who
      risked their lives,' Fleischer said.

      On Tuesday, he said Bush wanted to land by jet to 'allow him to see
      an aircraft landing the same way that the pilots saw an aircraft
      landing.

      Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, the Senate's senior Democrat,
      said: 'I am loath to think of an aircraft carrier being used as an
      advertising backdrop for a presidential political slogan.'

      *****

      Carriergate Flashback, Part Two

      Bush Trims Price of Clinton Haircut
      NewsMax.com
      Friday Nov. 30, 2001

      Don't look for any more high-priced presidential haircuts by the
      likes of Hollywood fave Christophe now that Bill Clinton is gone.

      At $30 a cut, President Bush's locks are a whole less costly to
      maintain than the ex-president's were, as revealed in that infamous
      incident in May 1993 when Clinton tied-up Los Angeles International
      Airport while having his curls shorn aboard Air Force One.

      Christophe charged $200 for the Clinton cut, more than six times what
      Bush now pays; a tab picked up, of course, by the taxpayer.

      The Washington Post's Lloyd Grove reports that Bush takes his cuts
      from Afghanistani stylist Zahira Zahir, who operates her salon out of
      the Watergate Hotel. Ms. Zahir was at the White House last Tuesday
      for a presidential trim, the same day First Lady Laura Bush hosted a
      group of her countrywomen to discuss Afghanistan's future.

      Despite her reasonable rates, Zahir's pedigree is even more golden
      than Christophe's. Her father, Abdul Zahir, served as prime minister
      of Afghanistan three decades ago.
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