Monday, April 13, 2009

Potemkin Photo Op

What to make of these reports floating around that the President's reception with the troops in Baghdad was "staged"? My verdict: non-scandal. One: of course it was staged. Nothing the President does isn't. It's sort of part of the job. Two: if you've got to choose a pretty small group of soldiers to meet the President, why on Earth wouldn't you pick from those who are his enthusiastic supporters? There's a high-minded constitutional argument that meeting the President is meeting the President no matter what you think of him, and that is true. If it had been a ceremonial setting, selecting only Obama supporters to fill the formation would have been seriously crass. But for a face-to-face meet-and-greet photo-op, why let someone who would have enjoyed it miss the chance and leave some die-hard conservative to grit his teeth and smile for the cameras?

I don't think anyone who knows a thing about the military believes for a minute that Obama is as popular among the troops as Bush was (for that matter, is). At the same time, the military is a fairly representative sample of America, and there's nothing monolithic about troops' opinions, political or otherwise. So let's not read too much into this.

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