Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Politics, The Long War, War on Terror — Rick Moran @ 8:35 am

President Barack Obama may be a cussed liberal, a naive child in some respects, a player of “Chicago Way” politics, and an arrogant chief executive with a thin skin.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t see him as a human being. And the burden he carries as Commander in Chief was brought home to him, I’m sure, last night with his unannounced trip to Dover Air Force Base to welcome home fallen heroes.

Obama is a complex man who is still something of a mystery to the American people - at least those who don’t see him as the devil incarnate trying to set up a socialist dictatorship. There is a lot of fakery in being president no matter who you are, but when the genuine moments peek through, we get a glimpse of the real man whose job it is to protect us and the nation.

Some things, you just can’t fake. Clinton at Oklahoma City. George W. Bush talking about his son’s torments. Ronald Reagan at Point du Hoc.

And now, Obama at Dover:

The president arrived at Dover AFB at 12:34am after 40-minute chopper ride from the White House. An Air Force C-17 carrying the 18 fallen U.S. personnel had arrived at Dover before the president. Among the dead on board were 7 U.S. Army soldiers and 3 DEA agents killed when their MH-47 Chinook crashed at Darreh-ye-bum, and 8 U.S. soldiers killed when their STRYKER personnel vehicle was struck by IED blast in the Arghandab River Valley.

It was a somber event.

The military confirmed the name of only one of the soldiers whose transfer the President witnessed: Sgt Dale R. Griffin, from Terre Haute, Indiana, who served in Operation Enduring Freedom.

At one point before the dignified transfers, President Obama spent time on the plane, accompanied by just Beers, otherwise alone with the eighteen fallen

At 3:39 am the President walked up the ramp of the C-17 to attend a short prayer given by Major Richard S. Bach, an Air Force chaplain. Obama emerged minutes later, the last in a line of personnel, and stood at attention in the cool night breeze, his hands cupped at his side.

At 3:50 am the flag-draped transfer case–not a coffin or casket–was carried from the plane to a waiting vehicle while all those participating saluted.

Griffin’s family gave permission for the media to cover the transfer.

The three DEA agents killed were identified as 37-year-old Forrest Leamon and 30-year-old Chad Michael, both from Virginia, and 37-year-old Michael Weston of Washington. Weston, like Obama, was a Harvard Law School graduate.

Obama’s participation in this sad military tradition comes at a critical time for the President, as he weighs sending as many as 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan. President Obama continues to deliberate with his commanders and advisors and will likely announce his decision after the Afghan elections on November 7 and before he departs for Asia on November 11, though the announcement could come after he returns from the Asia trip.

The New York Times referred to Obama’s trip as a “symbolic event” designed to show the president is thinking deeply about what to do in Afghanistan. This may very well be true. But the president is not made of stone. And the emotion that animated his face during this solemn, heart rending ceremony showed that he understands his responsibilities. And his words a few days ago to Marines at a Naval Air Station in Florida reflected the seriousness with which he is approaching the problem. “I will never rush the solemn decision of sending you into harm’s way,” he told them. Would that President Lyndon Johnson have said something similar in 1964.

Whether he will do “the right thing” (whatever that is) in Afghanistan is an entirely different question. While I sympathize with his dilemma, I criticize the time he is taking to make up his mind. I know he is trying to build “consensus” in the government for his policy but it was apparent weeks ago that his administration is riven by this decision and that reaching a consensus is probably out of the question. Also, the issues he seems to be stuck over are political ones; more troops, or less certainly has a military component but in the president’s case, he is just as certainly looking over his left shoulder at the base of his support who either wants to wind the war down or start getting out of Afghanistan immediately. And he is almost certainly wrestling with the language of commitment as well for the same reason.

This goes to a very basic question we should be asking about this president; can he be decisive? Does he have the ability to “go it alone” if he is convinced he is right and so many disagree? Our policy in Afghanistan is a good test case for this yardstick of presidential leadership. So far, I am not impressed. Splitting the difference is not an option here. He either must go “all in” or start pushing away from the table.

And thus, his trip to Dover and a visit with the families of the fallen. Bush never got the credit he deserved for this painful presidential chore - made all the more searing by the stinging words of some family members who blamed the president for their child’s death. What few media reports emerged from these emotional sessions were difficult to read. But seeing Bush as a human being was not in the liberal’s playbook so these visits were either ignored or were churlishly commented upon.

I am glad the president made the trip. I wonder how or if it will affect his thinking on Afghanistan? Will it steel his resolve to formulate a policy that will give meaning to their deaths by trying to carry on and pacify the country, thus infusing their sacrifice with meaning? Or does he already see Afghanistan as a lost cause and will look for the quickest way out consistent with assuring the safety of our troops and leaving some kind of government in place that can fend for itself?

As I said, a dilemma to be sure. Whatever he decides, it can’t hurt that he will have the faces of the family members of our dead soldiers at the front of his mind when he finally makes up his mind.


  1. I agree with you that this is an “all in,” or fold moment. One could make a rational case full of pros and cons for either choice, but I don’t think some middle ground would be worthwhile.

    No matter what choice he makes he owns it from here on out. given that I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt as he takes his time.

    Comment by Allen — 10/29/2009 @ 9:38 am

  2. The right decision is withdrawl and it should be done immediately as soon as our transport vehicles can move our people out. The military is worn down and it is getting more so with each passing moment. There aren’t enough well trained troops to be able to pacify the country or to leave a government in place that can “fend for itself” that would be any thing remotely allied to America. Once ALL of the troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan are withdrawn, they should be redeployed to America’s borders. This withdrawl should be begun now and it should be completed as soon as our transport vehicles can get them out of both countries. It is not worth one more American life or any more money. This will be the test for Obama. Is he decisive enough to do the right thing. Bush was not. Hopefully Obama will be.

    Comment by B.Poster — 10/29/2009 @ 9:40 am

  3. [...] RightWingNutHouse thinks and hopes that Obama’s experience at Dover was a glimpse at the real man, and a somber experience for President Obama: But that doesn’t mean we can’t see him as a human being. And the burden he carries as Commander in Chief was brought home to him, I’m sure, last night with his unannounced trip to Dover Air Force Base to welcome home fallen heroes. [...]

    Pingback by UrbanGrounds | Obama at Dover AF Base to Pay His Respects — 10/29/2009 @ 9:48 am

  4. Did you mean George H.W. Bush? Because GW only has daughters…

    Comment by Kerri — 10/29/2009 @ 9:57 am

  5. [...] Rick Moran: President Barack Obama may be a cussed liberal, a naive child in some respects, a player of “Chicago Way” politics, and an arrogant chief executive with a thin skin. [...]

    Pingback by The President Went To Dover « Around The Sphere — 10/29/2009 @ 3:11 pm

  6. Here are the fact. George W. Bush had seven years to visit the fallen soldiers at Dover and never did. He met with families of fallen soldiers but that was far and few in between. As a disabled veteran, I strongly believe George W. Bush, Dick Chenney and the GOP used veterans for political gains and it’s a shame.

    Here’s a list of brave Republicans who believe in sending men and women in harms way yet they did not have the courage to be in harms way themselves:

    * Dick Cheney: Five deferments, the last by marriage.
    * Dennis Hastert: did not serve.
    * Tom Delay: did not serve.
    * Roy Blunt: did not serve.
    * Bill Frist: did not serve.
    * Mitch McConnell: did not serve.
    * Rick Santorum: did not serve.
    * Trent Lott: did not serve.
    * John Ashcroft: did not serve. Seven deferments to teach business.
    * Jeb Bush: did not serve.
    * Karl Rove: did not serve.
    * Saxby Chambliss: did not serve. “Bad knee
    * Paul Wolfowitz: did not serve.
    * Vin Weber: did not serve.
    * Richard Perle: did not serve.
    * Douglas Feith: did not serve.
    * Eliot Abrams: did not serve.
    * Richard Shelby: did not serve.
    * Jon Kyl: did not serve.
    * Tim Hutchison: did not serve.
    * Christopher Cox: did not serve.
    * Newt Gingrich: did not serve.
    * Don Rumsfeld: served in Navy (1954-57) as flight instructor.
    * George W. Bush: failed to complete his six-year National Guard; got assigned to Alabama so he could campaign for family friend running for U.S. Senate; failed to show up for required medical exam, disappeared from duty.

    Comment by Sam — 10/29/2009 @ 5:45 pm

  7. Sam,
    sadly the same applies to Democrats too. Or in fact, most Americans. As a German I had to serve. Didn’t like it though.

    Comment by funny man — 10/29/2009 @ 6:52 pm

  8. Sam - I was going to comment on the larger point but your trash talk knocked me right off my intention to give Obama credit where it’s due (and an examination of how far that credit should go). The idea that one must serve first prior to ordering others into combat is quite simply foreign to the american tradition of civilian control over the military. In a very real sense, it is unamerican. I do not find Obama or Clinton’s lack of service disqualifying. The GOP figures you cite are no less worthy of respect.

    The idea that Donald Rumsfeld’s honorable service as somehow unmanly or not courageous is despicable. You might want to get a hold of Dan Rather, he’s still looking for evidence of your libel against President Bush. Unless you have some sort of documentary evidence to add to the record, your attack on President Bush is also despicable.

    Whether or not you’re a disabled vet, you’re a pathetic troll. Shame on you.

    Comment by TMLutas — 10/29/2009 @ 6:53 pm

  9. Obama going to Dover was a decent thing to do. That is all.

    Comment by Pug — 10/29/2009 @ 7:06 pm

  10. There are a lot of reasons I wouldn’t want to be president but having to face kids whose father you sent to die would be right at the top of the list.

    Comment by michael reynolds — 10/29/2009 @ 9:54 pm

  11. I wonder if he stopped to consider those men might still be alive if he’d sent the troops that McChrystal requested. Obama is a huge drama queen…this agony he’s going through while putting off a decision that simply needs to be made-is playing out like a perverse version of Hamlet in the press.

    Comment by Cao — 10/30/2009 @ 4:22 am

  12. Saw the interview with the ex State Department employee who had been stationed in Afghanistan who had just written a 4 page editorial about our chances there. He said the villages he had been in didn’t want the Americans there, didn’t want the Taliban there, didn’t even want Afghgani’s from other villages in theres. They showed no connection to the Central Government, didn’t trust the corrupt Army or the Police. There’s a reason Afghganistan has been called “The graveyard of Empires”. Its not winnable.

    Comment by Joe — 10/30/2009 @ 5:12 am

  13. funnyman:

    Of course many Dems didn’t serve. What is salient — and disgusting to this veteran — is that Republicans as a party endlessly question peoples’ patriotism if they don’t agree with the dogma of the moment. Cheney in particular has led this charge and continues to do so.

    Comment by shaun — 10/30/2009 @ 7:04 am

  14. Cao:

    No, genius, because even if Obama had instantly pulled the trigger on McChrystal’s requests those troops would not yet be in theater. They don’t just hop on Jet Blue’s red-eye to Kabul. They kind of like to take their guns and their trucks and their food with them.

    In fact, as you no doubt fail to recall, Obama rushed troops to Afghanistan back in February, as one of his earliest acts in office. He did so because your imbecile president and his lying fraud of a vice president had left the situation a desperate, rapidly deteriorating mess.

    Why? Because it took them years to figure out that Rumsfeld was an idiot. And because they preferred tax cuts to troop increases. And because credulous, brain dead Rushbot Republicans preferred ill-informed sneering to actual war fighting.

    Going forward this war belongs to Obama. But do not try and sell the mess we have today as Obama’s mess. That, along with a shattered economy, a pointless stalemate in Iraq, nukes in North Korea, an empowered Iran, massive deficits, and even a vast new entitlement program, are the legacy of 8 years of Republican rule.

    We are mopping as fast as we can but you guys left one hell of a mess and it takes some time to clean up after you.

    Comment by michael reynolds — 10/30/2009 @ 8:02 am

  15. Sorry folks, but I see it as a photo op…another one of his administration’s rookie mistakes.

    Only one of the families agreed to allowed photographers. Would Obama have gone knowing that no photographers would have been there? I personally doubt it.

    President Bush did meet with some of the families and one can argue if he should have met with more than he did. However, he went out of his way to make sure it was private and not seen as a photo op. Obama did the opposite and the press is clear to mention this and show those moving pictures to the masses.

    Just my two cents…

    Comment by JohnMc — 10/30/2009 @ 9:51 am

  16. [...] See also, Right Wing Nut House, “OBAMA’S TIMELY VISIT TO DOVER.” [...]

    Pingback by About Obama’s Staged Photo-Op at Dover Air-Base | Right Wing News — 10/30/2009 @ 10:54 am

  17. The original story by the NYT referred to political purposes for the trip.
    The story was subsequently changed to delete this reference. I hope the President’s reason for going was as per this article and not for political
    puposes as originally reported.

    Comment by Harry O — 10/30/2009 @ 11:39 am

  18. Obama made a sad but honorable trip to Dover,but why did he take the media with him. SGT Griffin’s family gave permission for the media to accompany our CIC. I heard that the other 17 families said “no”. Can’t verify that. Anyway,why not attend alone. Let the reporters sleep.

    Comment by Carl Hansen — 10/30/2009 @ 11:51 am

  19. Sam,
    You forgot Abraham Lincoln. And why no Democrats? How about Wilson, FDR, or Clinton? Oh, that’s right. No one expects anyone from the non-patriotic party to have actually served their country in combat. Ergo, no hypocrisy. (/snark). Sam, you a truly a fool. Now get on back to DKos before you hurt yourself.

    Comment by RickS — 10/30/2009 @ 1:28 pm

  20. Sam’s point is not irrelevant or new. Soldiers have always snickered a bit at men who sent them to fight while avoiding battle themselves.

    It goes back at least to the Iliad wherein Achilles snarks at Agamemnon for managing to steer clear of battles himself.

    I would argue that veterans have a perfect right to roll their eyes when dealing with war enthusiasts whose enthusiasm is entirely for other people’s sacrifice. I don’t think that says anything about the quality or capability of a particular president (FDR didn’t serve but did manage to lead effectively) but I think guys who get shot at have earned the right to view with jaundiced eye those (like myself) who’ve remained safely at home.

    Comment by michael reynolds — 10/30/2009 @ 1:51 pm

  21. We are mopping as fast as we can but you guys left one hell of a mess and it takes some time to clean up after you.

    How much time are you willing to give Obama? Will the 2012 election be a referendum (for you) on how well he’s cleaned things up or will it be a referendum on how well he’s not behaving like Bush? Or is four years just not enough time for you to measure his capacity as President?

    Comment by sota — 10/30/2009 @ 4:32 pm

  22. Sota:

    Well, in fairness, since you guys spent 8 years digging the hole we ought to have at least a year or two to fill it back in, don’t you think?

    What exactly is your theory? That the GOP can spend 8 years systematically screwing up everything they touch from Katrina to Iraq, from the budget to the broader economy, and then hey presto overnight it’s someone else’s fault?

    Is that how it works in your family? Because in my family if one of my kids is screwing around and breaks a glass, I may clean it up, but he doesn’t get to pretend it’s my fault. He doesn’t get to tell me to hurry up. He doesn’t get to lie about who broke it.

    You think you just come along and with your incompetent leaders and your idiotic ideological drivel and your reckless indifference to accountability screw this country into the ground and we all just shrug and forget about it?

    Let me lay this out for you: your most recent administration set a national record for sheer, bloody-minded incompetence. Not since James Buchanan have we seen such a disastrous administration. Your most recent president was a reckless buffoon and his vice president should be standing trial as a war criminal. So maybe the question is: don’t you think you and your party owe the world a decent interval before you start in lecturing us on how to fix the mess you made?

    Comment by michael reynolds — 10/30/2009 @ 5:03 pm

  23. I would say Obama has until about March of 2010 or so to clean up the mess. Unlike the Republicans, he and the Democrats have pretty much absolute power over the government right now. Bush and his team, while incompetent, never had this kind of power. If team Obama fails, will this translate into real gains for Republicans? That depends upon whether the Republicans can offer a viable alternative.

    What does seem clear is that massive entitlements are not the way to go. We can’t afford them. They were wrong when Bush was doing them and they are wrong now. For example, while the health care system does need improvements, most people are quite happy with their coverage. Bigger problems to be handled are the massive national debt, fixing the economy, and rebuilding and upgrading the military.

    Comment by B.Poster — 10/31/2009 @ 1:19 am

  24. I’m thinking there will be formal charges brought against Dick Cheney very soon. He’s held in utter contempt by most Americans and he’s the media despises him even more than most Americans do. I can’t imagine any top legal talent being willing to take his case. Assuming he’s as guilty as the his detractors claim he is, getting a conviction should be fairly easy.

    Comment by B.Poster — 10/31/2009 @ 1:34 am

  25. you can sum it all up with 1 and a half words.. Photo-Op

    Comment by Right Is Right — 10/31/2009 @ 6:08 am

  26. So maybe the question is: don’t you think you and your party owe the world a decent interval before you start in lecturing us on how to fix the mess you made?

    Yowza…I was actually asking a sincere question. Maybe you need to back down on your daily internet bitterness quotient. I’m giving Obama the benefit of the doubt (unlike most Democrats did with Bush). All I was really wondering was how long you’re giving Obama to fix the mess before you drop your own ideological biased support.

    You love to respond to so many comments with “torture, North Korea, Iran, Haliburton, blah, blah, blah”…how about we discuss the issue rather than throw out hyperbole and talking points?

    Well, in fairness, since you guys spent 8 years digging the hole we ought to have at least a year or two to fill it back in, don’t you think?

    Sure, and I agree, but you can’t do that with a shovel at the bottom of the hole.

    So, I repeat, will the 2012 election for you be a referendum on Obama’s performance or will you punch the Democrat ticket either way?

    Comment by Anonymous — 10/31/2009 @ 8:19 am

  27. Sorry, that was me above…

    Comment by sota — 10/31/2009 @ 8:20 am

  28. Anonymous:

    My support for Obama is not ideological. I barely have an ideology.

    The 2012 election will rest, as they always do, on which of the available candidates I think will do the least damage. I can’t tell you for sure how I’ll vote unless you can tell me who will be repping the GOP.

    I will say that none of the currently bruited GOP names has a prayer with me. The only GOP leader I kind of like is Jim Huntsman, former Governor of Utah, currently ambassador to China. Sort of Romney with 70% less android.

    Comment by michael reynolds — 10/31/2009 @ 8:59 am

  29. Sorry, Jon Huntsman.

    Comment by michael reynolds — 10/31/2009 @ 9:00 am

  30. Moran as usual is a phony conservative with another of his ” hey i am a right winger but lets give credit to the left…..”
    He will be a liberal in 5 years-good riddance.
    Reynolds is a phony too. He claims to be non idealogical but his comment”Well, in fairness, since you guys spent 8 years digging the hole we ought to have at least a year “. Note the “we”. Of course we all know what the we stands for- liberal nutroot.
    The BDS on this sight is astounding.

    Comment by MooseH — 10/31/2009 @ 3:34 pm

  31. MooseH:

    I supported Gulf War 1, Afghanistan and the Iraq invasion. I favor means-testing social security and medicare. I want to see corporate income tax rates cut. My first vote was for Richard Nixon. So, yeah, I’m a real far left nutroot.

    Comment by michael reynolds — 10/31/2009 @ 4:04 pm

  32. MR
    Stop the bs and explain the “we”.

    Comment by MooseH — 10/31/2009 @ 4:35 pm

  33. >”A small contingent of reporters and photographers was quietly called to follow him to Dover,..”<

    That was from the NY Times article on the Dover visit. He had to bring the media? It screams of Photo Op.

    Comment by Mike Giles — 10/31/2009 @ 4:53 pm

  34. MooseH
    yeah and Reagan appointed you to be a judge on who is conservative and who isn’t. Tired of the HA crowd bs too.

    Comment by funny man — 10/31/2009 @ 5:40 pm

  35. Moose:

    “We” in that case meant Obama supporters. And if that is synonymous with “liberal nutroot” you are in a world of hurt because we’re about 55% of the population.

    If you also exclude Moran and his ilk as RINOs then my guess is your team nails about 10% of the population, making you and yours the voting equivalent of the African-American vote, or say, twice the gay vote.

    Comment by michael reynolds — 10/31/2009 @ 5:51 pm

  36. MR
    You voted for one of the most liberal senators .We now know were you stand. You are a well disguised troll - no centrist thee.

    Comment by MooseH — 10/31/2009 @ 6:46 pm

  37. Moose:

    You’re a poorly-disguised cretin.

    Comment by michael reynolds — 10/31/2009 @ 7:47 pm

  38. MR,
    We don’t need you to worry about us Republicans just start worrying about your party and the poor decisions your leader has made to date.

    Comment by MooseH — 10/31/2009 @ 8:10 pm

  39. “Bush never got the credit he deserved for this painful presidential chore ….”

    That would be because he did it in private - never made media moments out of the visits. The fact that Obama did speaks badly of his character.

    Comment by MochaLite — 10/31/2009 @ 8:29 pm

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