Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 29, 2009

PRESIDENT AT DOVER.... For all the talk in recent years about whether American media should be allowed to cover -- and whether the American public should be allowed to see -- flag-draped caskets as fallen U.S. soldiers return home, it was good to see President Obama pay his respects this morning at Dover Air Force Base.

It was apparently the president's first trip to the air base. The trip was not announced in advance and Obama arrived shortly after midnight. Obama stood at attention to salute Army Sgt. Dale Griffin of Indiana, whose family gave permission for this morning's coverage.

The NYT reported, "The bodies returning to Dover Air Force Base shortly after midnight included seven Army soldiers and three agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency who were killed when their helicopter crashed on Monday in rural Afghanistan. The bodies of eight soldiers killed in an attack on Monday also arrived on an Air Force C-17."

Obama also met with family members in the chapel of the Air Force base. The AP added, "Most of the event was closed to media and journalists were only allowed to see the transfer of the last casket."

Steve Benen 9:20 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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Comments

Obama at Dover...good on him. it is very good to have a human in the white house and not a monster.

..now if he could end the armies clashing in the night...

Posted by: neill on October 29, 2009 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

It is my recollection, correct me if I am wrong, that George W Bush NEVER went to Dover or to a soldier's funeral.

Posted by: martin on October 29, 2009 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

You are correct that he never went to Dover, martin -- and of course he banned photos of the dead returning to the U.S. I believe he attended some soldiers' funerals.

neill: He's got his hands full with the ignorant armies clashing by day here.

Posted by: shortstop on October 29, 2009 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Calumny under every casket

Expect one of the Cheneys to be out in front leading the blow back on this early in the day...

Posted by: koreyel on October 29, 2009 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

Expect one of the Cheneys to be out in front leading the blow back on this early in the day...

I'm guessing the winger blogs are already chastising Obama for his posturing in front of the cameras...except for the majority of the event that was closed to the media, during which he was hiding something. What?

Posted by: shortstop on October 29, 2009 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

The wingers will either go for the "exploiting/posturing" line, or they'll take note that he went in the middle of the night and accuse him of being "ashamed to be seen in the light of day at a military facility." Odds, anyone?

Posted by: Mustang Bobby on October 29, 2009 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

I recall a story about how excited GWB was when we went into Iraq, complete with following the movements of the armed forces using "models" in the whitehouse. People commented on his keen interest at the time.

But he never was interested in facing the horrors of war, wanted to make us all believe that giving up golf was his sacrifice, his way of honoring the dead and wounded.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on October 29, 2009 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Not to pour cold water on this, but looking at the pictures I was again annoyed by one of my bete noires, which is the recent habit of the armed forces wearing combat fatigues in the US. Why was the honor guard wearing baggy camoflague fatigues and desert combat boots rather than proper dress uniforms (meaning tunics, ties and shoes rather than boots)? They're in America, not in a combat zone, and moreover they're appearing with the president at a solemn occasion. It shows slack and a complete lack of respect to allow service personnel to dress this way.

Posted by: Stefan on October 29, 2009 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

If you can stomach it, the vile hate-filled anti-American shit show that is the Free Republic website has their full hatred going.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2373434/posts

The posters on that site could all drop dead and the only way we'd know is that the world stinks a little less.

Posted by: Paranoid Floyd on October 29, 2009 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with Stefan: Combat fatigues are a Republican image, not that they ever served in combat.

The US military should go back to dignity and respect with their uniforms. The President has shown a wonderful first step in leadership, and others should follow.

Posted by: Bob M on October 29, 2009 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, I'm sure we'll be hearing from rightwing sources that the President was exploiting the families, and worse, that Obama is somehow responsible for their deaths because of his "dithering."

Well to remember that the sainted Ronnie himself, Nancy at his side, went to meet the returning caskets from that attack on the US Marine barracks in Lebanon, all in front of the cameras. They met with the families, and I have to say it was one of Reagan's better moments as President. He and Nancy comforted the families with shared tears and hugs. More importantly, he withdrew our troops from Lebanon, immediately.

From a rightwing neo-con perspective, one could say that Reagan's actions, showing weakness by decided it wasn't in America's interest to take sides in a decades-long Lebanese civil war, led to the rise of Al Queada.

Posted by: Leah on October 29, 2009 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Agree with Stefan. They might as well show up in pajamas.

Posted by: garnash on October 29, 2009 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Re: Fatigues v dress uniforms: This doesn't just happen, someone has to order it. Who did and why? And being the military, there is a paper trail for some motivated report to find.

Posted by: martin on October 29, 2009 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Re: Fatigues vs. Dress - As a former member of the military, there are several reasons that dress uniforms are not part of this process. This process is the dignified transfer - not the funeral - so this is not called a ceremony as there is nothing to celebrate. In addition, often several of the fallens' comrades come home with them, and as combat soldiers, their dress uniforms are obviously not available. The funeral, with the honor of the ceremony, is the plaace for formality.

Posted by: Keith on October 29, 2009 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

NOTHING Obama does is right, according to the Right Wing.

And, thanks Keith, for the explanation above. When I looked at the pictures, I saw men accompanying their friends and comrades on the travel part of their journey. I saw no disrespect.

Posted by: phoebes-in-santa fe on October 29, 2009 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

In general, I don't think service members should be wearing camo fatigues and combat boots anywhere in civilian areas in the US. On base is one thing -- but when they go out in public, they should wear service uniforms/walking-out dress, not fatigues. I know this was changed in recent years, but I don't like it and I think it sets a bad trend.

Posted by: Stefan on October 29, 2009 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Again, to address Stefan, this is not a matter of just "looking proper" for the sake of trends. These service people are not the highest paid workers who have money to spend at the cleaners every time they go out in public. There are not many dress uniforms that travel well out of a duffel bag. If I had to travel in my best every time I was transferred or went into a public place I would've gone broke for what the service pays. Every Soldier, Marine and Sailor look good in there dress uniforms, but find someone who regularly travels in their tuxedo, and I'll concede your point.

Posted by: Keith on October 29, 2009 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

P.S. - We are in combat right now...

Posted by: Keith on October 29, 2009 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

P.S. - We are in combat right now...

Really? In the United States? Where, exactly?

Posted by: Stefan on October 29, 2009 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Every Soldier, Marine and Sailor look good in there dress uniforms, but find someone who regularly travels in their tuxedo, and I'll concede your point.

Bond.

James Bond.

Posted by: Stefan on October 29, 2009 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

"In general, I don't think service members should be wearing camo fatigues and combat boots anywhere in civilian areas in the US. On base is one thing -- but when they go out in public,..."

They were on base. The plane had just arrived from Afganistan, if I'm not mistaken. When and where should they have changed their clothes?

Posted by: IdahoDem on October 30, 2009 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK
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