Look at this!!!


I mean...dammit, what other president would do this? Bush Pays Troops in Iraq a Surprise Visit

Here are some prize excerpts:

"ASHINGTON, Nov. 27 — In a stunning mission conducted under enormous secrecy, President Bush flew into Baghdad today aboard Air Force One to share Thanksgiving dinner with United States officials and several hundred astonished American troops.

His trip — the first ever to Iraq by an American president — had been kept a matter of absolute secrecy by the White House, which had said that Mr. Bush was to spend the holiday weekend at his ranch outside Crawford, Tex.


Even his wife, Laura, and his parents, the former President George Bush and his wife, Barbara, who had also come to Crawford, received only a few hours' notice of the trip, officials said later.

The mission was an extraordinary gesture, with scant precedent, and was seen as an effort by Mr. Bush to show the importance he attaches to the embattled United States-led effort to pacify and democratize Iraq.

He told the troops that the United States would not back down in the face of stern resistance in Iraq.

The trip also carried a powerful public relations message, coming on a day when millions of Americans traditionally are at home before their televisions to watch parades or football games.

The presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, speaking on CNN, called the trip "a perfectly executed plan" that would be "one of the major moments in his biography." It would have provided "an incredible thrill" for the Americans, he said.

Mr. Bush was spirited out of Crawford on Wednesday in an unmarked car, without his customary motorcade, and boarded Air Force One, which left under the pretext that it was flying to Washington for maintenance work.

He then flew to Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, where a few advisers and a small number of reporters sworn to secrecy awaited him. Boarding a second, identical, airplane, the group then flew on to Baghdad International Airport, arriving around dusk.

The president spent 2 hours 32 minutes in the country before heading back to Crawford, where he was due around daybreak Friday.

About 600 startled soldiers, most of them from the Army's First Armored Division and the 82nd Airborne, had arrived at a heavily guarded hangar at the Baghdad airport under the impression that they would be dining with L. Paul Bremer III, the chief United States administrator there, and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of coalition forces in Iraq.

Mr. Bremer told the troops that he was supposed to read a message from the president, but then said that normally "the most senior person" present should read it.

With a barely suppressed grin and almost glazed look on his face, he said, "Let's see if we've got anybody more senior." Mr. Bush then appeared from behind a curtain, wearing a gray army exercise jacket, and strode to the microphone.

The troops jumped to their feet to give him a tremendous cheer, and many held up cameras to snap his picture.

"Thank you," he said, adding with a grin, "I was just looking for a warm meal somewhere." He later helped serve the Thanksgiving meal.

Mr. Bush also met with four members of the Iraqi Governing Council.

The trip must have raised enormous concerns for the president's security team. A DHL cargo plane using the same airport on Saturday was struck in the wing by a shoulder-fired missile, forcing it to make an emergency landing. But such missiles, reliant on visual contact with their targets, are considered ineffective after dark.

"It's not real risky," Don Shepperd, a retired general, said on CNN. "At night, the risk is minimal."

The president's specially outfitted Boeing 747 flew with its lights out, aides said.

The trip, nonetheless, was clearly not free of risk, taking the president into the heart of a country where coalition forces have been the targets of dozens of attacks a day. More than 60 American troops have been killed in hostilities there this month, many of them in helicopter crashes.

The trip underscored the extraordinary ability of this administration to keep even the most dramatic of secrets."

Clinton would have never pulled it off. Man, Bush is such a great president!

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