But it was a photo-op on a carrier, nonetheless. In the bask of a glow around the first ever college hoops contest on a flattop there was the CinC, flight jacket adorned, striding out at mid-court to speak about public enemy number one finding his watery grave from that very flight deck last year and jobs, jobs, jobs. He followed it with a self-congratulatory Saturday internet address from the bridge, again in the flight jacket, where he also mentioned his "ending the wars" and his jobs bill as a way to get soldiers back to work when they return.
Yet there really wasn't much wrong with the whole thing in context, other than a lack of outrage.
Yep, back when Bush photo-op'ed our military's take-down of the Saddam regime from a flat top--and before the 'mission accomplished' banner in the background took over the memory--here was some typical lefty reaction:
Against this background, liberals are now saying there should be a wall of separation between commanders-in-chief and their prior military experience. Recently the Senate’s senior Democrat, Robert Byrd, blasted Bush for flying out to the Lincoln in a fighter jet. He denounced the action as “self-congratulatory” and “flamboyant showmanship.” (Byrd is just jealous that Bush’s showmanship comes off better than Byrd’s in Gods and Generals.)
Over in the House, Rep. Henry Waxman, in flamboyant contradiction to his entire career, is suddenly concerned about government spending: How much did Bush’s flight cost the Treasury? More ominously, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman warns that “Mr. Bush was breaking an important tradition” when he donned a flight suit; that his “Top Gun act” was “scary”; that American presidents just don’t wear uniforms or military accoutrements. (Never mind that the president had to wear a flight suit to go up in an S-3B Viking jet, and that after mixing and mingling with the sailors, he got out of his flight suit and put on civilian clothes for his public address.)Of course the photo-op got worse with time as the Iraqi insurgency took root, but there's scant evidence of any such outrage this time. Not even from the right, who have largely let the president celebrate in peace with the troops and his favorite passtime. Matter of fact, one of the most critical rags over Bush's photo-op is now telling us there is common ground about the Iraq victory withdrawal thing..
To be fair, the game idea was hatched some time ago so Obama didn't orchestrate things, he just showed up and got a photo-op. But it was a photo-op, just like Bush on the Lincoln. Like Bush he left some hint of a military success, this time vis a vis al Qaeda, a sort of 'mission accomplished' without the banner. We can only hope the very dangerous enemies still out there don't spoil yet another speech.