President Bush is getting a lot of play for his surprise two hour visit to Baghdad International Airport, and the lapdog media are playing up the extreme risk of the President's trip, as if Presidents have never taken dangerous journeys before.
Not to disparage Mr. Bush, because is was nice to see him visiting the troops, and without the usual smirk on his face. The soldiers cheered raucously for their President, but one wonders how much cheering they'll do when they realize how badly they've been screwed by Bush's cutbacks in the Veteran's Administration. And sadly, I wonder how many of our men and women in uniform will never come home.
Presidents have visited the troops in wartime before.
The one who took the most risk was also the most vulnerable, physically. In January and December 1943, Franklin Roosevelt visited troops in Africa and Europe, traveling through U-boat infested waters by warship, and hostile skies in an unpressurized plane without the fancy gadgetry Bush had access to. There was even an assassination plot against FDR in Casablanca which was, fortunately, foiled. Roosevelt didn't cocoon himself at an airport, but actually visited troops in the field, pinning medals, handing out promotions, and comforting injured troops in the hospital. On the way, he told General Eisenhower that he would be in charge of Operation Overlord and informed the Germans that the Allies would accept nothing less than unconditional surrender.
And when he got back to Washington, he pushed through legislation ensuring that those who served would be genuinely rewarded, both medically and through the GI Bill of Rights.
Not bad for a guy who couldn't walk.