By Deb Riechmann, Associated Press Writer
... Paul Rieckhoff, director of the New York-based Operation Truth, an advocacy group for U.S. veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, denounced the event as "a carefully scripted publicity stunt." Five of the 10 U.S. troops involved were officers, he said.
"If he wants the real opinions of the troops, he can't do it in a nationally televised teleconference," Rieckhoff said. "He needs to be talking to the boots on the ground and that's not a bunch of captains."
Surely no one can be surprised that Bush's globally broadcast chat with soldiers was rehearsed. (By the way, remember when he used to go to Iraq himself for these staged events?) But I like the conclusion of Riechmann's article, excerpted above, because it fits so well with what John Dunne wrote about.
There's also this, from a young friend who's an officer in the U.S. Navy:
Chris, I have jetlag to thank for allowing me to wake up extra-early to watch the President address the troops in Tikrit via teleconference.
It might have been the most cringe-worthy, staged media event I have ever seen. Even more offensive than party conventions, since they suckered troops into it.
Did you catch this exchange? (There was an Iraqi master sergeant sitting among the Americans).
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Sergeant Akeel, thanks for joining us. I appreciate -- appreciate your service. You've got something to say, Akeel?
SERGEANT AKEEL: Good morning, Mr. President. Thank you for everything. Thank very much for everything.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, you're welcome.
SERGEANT AKEEL: I like you. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I appreciate that.