Mr. President, A Few Questions . . . 
by Mina Hamilton
December 2, 2003

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George, how much did your Turkey-in-Baghdad caper cost? I bet a pretty penny.

The White House said your little dip in and out of Baghdad's International Airport took six weeks of planning. How many staffers labored night and day to lay the groundwork? What about the tons of extra security at notoriously unsafe Baghdad International Airport? What about the round-trip costs of Air Force One to and fro occupied Iraq?

Who is paying? Out of which till did you grab the moolah?

Did the funds come out of the $87 billion you just rammed through Congress? Come on now. You know this was nothing but an expensive photo-op designed for the 2004 election. Did the bill for this fancy election year ad come out of the Republican coffers - as it should have? Is the Committee to Re-elect the President paying?

George, what a sham! Do you think anybody was fooled? Sure, the troops may have given a whoop of excitement when they first saw you. Doubtless that was because they thought you'd actually come for a real visit.

Sure, the troops temporarily got a boost in morale. As one soldier said, "My morale had kind of spattered. Now, I'm good for another two months." [1] Only an additional "two months"? That's not much of a morale booster when we're going to be stuck in Iraq for years and years!

Once the troops realized that you'd high-tailed out of there like a cowardly dog I bet your credibility among our boys and girls in Iraq sank to new lows. After all the soldiers are staying behind. They risk life and limb. They see their buddies shot to pieces. They know you've decided to skip those sad burials at Arlington's National Cemetery. They know you won't be caught within miles of Walter Reed hospital with its scores of maimed, blinded, gut-torn, amputees.

George, tell us, did George Washington gallop in and out of Yorktown, review the troops and then disappear after two hours? Or did he stay with his men?

George, tell us, did Napoleon Bonaparte sit back in Paris and read Moliere or did he ride out (often dodging bullets) onto every battlefield before he would commit his troops to the deadly fray of cannon balls and bayonets?

George did the British Admiral, Lord Nelson relax by a cozy fire in London or was he striding on the deck of the British Navy ships, overseeing the strategic details of each battle?

Come on, George, you know this was another PR stunt -- a particularly tasteless stunt given the fact you went AWOL at the Texas National Guard. In a sense you were once again AWOL in Iraq. After all what Reservist, what Marine, what 82nd Airborner gets to serve for only two hours?

Come on, George, where did you get the money for the Turkey-in-Baghdad caper? I'm a taxpayer and I deserve to know.

One last thing: George, remember your Mission Accomplished stunt back on May 1st ? How with much hoopla you landed on the USS Abraham Lincoln? How as the bloody slaughter of G.I.'s has continued (over 300 US soldiers killed since May) that exploit has come back to bedevil you?

Guaranteed, one day the Turkey-in-Baghdad escapade will also come back to haunt you. One day you'll regret ever having posed with this particular bird, the turkey.

I guess birds of a feather really do flock together.

Mina Hamilton is a writer based in New York City. She can be reached at minaham@aol.com


[1] Bumiller, Elizabeth, "On Secret Iraq Trip, Bush Pays Holiday Visit to G.I.'s," New York Times, November 28, 2003.

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