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Supporting Our Troops

Photo of President Bush's Photo-Op with a fake turkey

This turkey is fake.

Hey, remember that allegedly heartwarming Thanksgiving visit that President Bush gave the soldiers stationed in Baghdad? You know, back when he snuck into Baghdad like a thief in the night so that he could show the men and women in uniform (and, in a complete coincidence that obviously had nothing at all to do with the decision, several newspaper photographers and FOX News television cameras) just how much he Supports Our Troops?

At the time, I mused:

Why are we supposed to feel good about it? Because he made a very public and very scripted show of supporting the troops which consisted of a whopping three hours with 600 (no doubt carefully selected) troops?

But such speculation and nay-saying was no doubt the result of mindless, pathological, Bush-hating cynicism. The passage of time has clearly shown just how much President Bush genuinely cares about the troops and would never ever use them as props for a cynical photo-op:

photo: George W. Bush

What did you think about President Bush’s Thanksgiving visit to Iraq?

I was there when President Bush came to the [Baghdad] airport. The day before, you had to fill out a questionnaire and answer questions, that would determine whether they would allow you in the room with the President.

What was on the questionnaire?

Do you support the president?

Really!

Yes.

Members of the military were asked whether they support the president politically?

Yes. And if the answer was not a gung-ho, A-1, 100 percent yes, then you were not allowed into the cafeteria. You were not allowed to eat the Thanksgiving meal that day. You had an MRE.

About this questionnaire, it raises a serious question about whether military personnel, or civil servants for that matter, should ever be asked questions by their supervisors about their political beliefs. It also raises the whole question of freedom of speech. In particular, the circumstances under which members of the military have freedom of speech.

There is none.

Is a soldier free, for example, to speak to the media if it is in support of the president and his policies, but not free to do so if in opposition or if raising uncomfortable questions?

If you are spouting good things about the president, you are allowed to speak. If you are saying anything negative, you are not allowed to speak.

— Unknown Soldier Speaks Out To Bring Troops Home, from Intervention Magazine.

Bush-Cheney ’04: defending the nation against sagging approval ratings; supporting the troops that support us politicially.

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