Gosh, I don't know boys...Do You Think It's Worth It?
This one just has to be printed in full - So sue me AP - President Bunny in a flight suit still wants to run...
Oh yeah, and Faux News: Fuck you.
Aides Prodded Reluctant Bush on Iraq Trip
Fri Nov 28, 3:20 PM ET
By Adam Entous
CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - For a president fond of a tough-guy image, George W. Bush was uneasy when an aide casually asked him, "You want to go to Baghdad?"
With Bush safely back at his Crawford ranch on Friday, White House supporters seized on the U.S. Thanksgiving Day visit to Iraq (news - web sites) as a public-relations coup that could boost troop morale and Republican fund raising.
But the trip -- one of the most secretive by any U.S. president -- also highlighted how precarious security remains in the Iraqi capital, captured by U.S. forces in April.
Despite unprecedented precautions, the president slipped into Baghdad under cover of darkness on Thursday to minimize the risk of being targeted by surface-to-air missiles and was confined to the heavily guarded airport throughout his 2-1/2-hour stay.
"Obviously there continues to be a security problem in the triangle around Baghdad," Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice (news - web sites), said in Crawford.
One day after the president left Iraq, another high-profile visitor, New York Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (news - web sites), toured Baghdad to meet with troops and top officials from the occupation administration and aid groups.
It was White House chief of staff Andrew Card who first proposed the surprise trip -- not the president.
"Andy (Card), as he often does, said (to Bush) almost in passing: 'Thanksgiving's coming up. Where do you want to go? You want to go to Baghdad?"' Rice recalled, and the planning got under way.
Seven months after his dramatic landing in a flight suit on the USS Abraham Lincoln with its "Mission Accomplished" banner, Bush conceded about the Iraq visit, "I was the biggest skeptic of all."
Instead of a flight suit, Bush wore a standard Army jacket to meet with the troops, and acknowledged he thought "all along" it might be too risky and that he "had a lot of questions" about security.
Bush aides considered scrapping the visit less than a week ago after a DHL cargo plane, landing at the same airport, was hit by a surface-to-air missile.
"The president had made clear that he was prepared to call this off at any time," Rice said, adding the DHL incident "made people go back and take a look at whether we thought the plane would be safe going in."
The Secret Service (news - web sites) was deeply involved in the planning from the start, although it expressed some initial reservations. The White House went to extraordinary lengths to keep the trip a secret, including outright deception.
"Everybody was concerned that it was a trip with some risk. ... It wasn't going to Cleveland, we knew that." Rice said.
More than 180 U.S. soldiers have died since Bush declared major combat operations over in May with his controversial visit to the aircraft carrier.
He has seen his popularity decline as Americans' concern over the operation has grown. Experts said the visit could boost Bush in the polls, but doubted it would last.
"Is this a moment that the RNC (Republican National Committee (news - web sites)) will try to use as a fund-raising moment? Yes. ... (But) it's a one-day winner. This is not a solution to anything," said Douglas Brinkley, director of the Eisenhower Center for American Studies at the University of New Orleans.
Dan Feldman, a National Security Council director under former President Bill Clinton (news - web sites), called the trip a "great PR stunt ... yet another in a long line of photo ops that don't say anything concrete about improving security and what our long-term plans are."
Rice denied the trip was politically motivated. "This was generated out of the president and the policy side," she said, but declined to say if political adviser Karl Rove or Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman were among the handful of aides who knew about the trip.
She said the administration had briefly considered a visit to Baghdad during the summer or tagged on to Bush's recent London trip.
Rice said the president was concerned about his own security as well as the possibility the visit would increase the risk to front-line troops.
Before giving the final green light, he convened a meeting with his top advisers.
"The (military) commanders still wanted this to go forward. And the president went around the room and just said, 'Do you still think this is the right thing to do?' And each of us thought it was the right thing to do," Rice said.