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“Breaking News” 2.7.09: Obama in Iraq

April 7, 2009

By keito

I was watching TV when an ABC Special News Report busted in at about a quarter to twelve.  Charlie Gibson reported from New York that President Obama was visiting troops at Camp Victory in Iraq, showing live footage of him as he seemed to be walking out and some shaky handheld footage from earlier, filmed by one of the soldiers present as Obama addressed them — about 600 soldiers in all.

The President had landed in Iraq about two hours before, Gibson reported.

Let me just say, phew!  The last time I saw a breaking news report, I turned on the TV and saw a plane floating in a river — the Miracle on the Hudson, before anyone knew it was going to be a miracle.  My first thoughts, when the news report broke in, were: A) the Special News Report announcement graphics are way too long — tell me what’s wrong already!  And B) Obama in Iraq?  Somebody captured him?!

Why, oh why, is the commander-in-chief visiting troops considered breaking news?  Breaking news is for startling and unexpected events, usually catastrophes.  Though Obama’s visit to Iraq was a surprise (Gibson reported that the President was known to be on his way to visit troops somewhere after leaving Turkey), it should not be considered unusual.

Many of those troops are on their second or third tour of duty (I know of one soldier, through a friend, who is on a tour of duty for the third time — the first two times he was sent home injured).  As long as there’s adequate security, the President of the U.S. should be obligated to visit the mission area (warzone, really) at least as many times as the military troops are obliged to have tours of duty there.  Visit Number 1 from the new President should not be breaking news.  A president refusing to visit troops, or some calamity, would be.

ABC News reported that President Obama said he and Mrs. Obama are with the troops every day, and “As long as I’m in the White House, you will get the support you need,” mentioning financial support included in his new budget.

Which makes me think: I wonder if the President’s continual campaigning is because he is the first black president, and, as his oldest daughter told him before the inauguration, the first black president had better be a good one; or if it’s simply because stimulus spending, increased budgets and what is perceived as socialist (but is at most pseudo-socialist) policies have struck a very nasty nerve with so many.

Either way, it’s not a good thing for America when a newly — and fairly — elected official is constantly having to bolster himself and defend his policies.  And it’s a little sad, too, when a presidential visit to the troops is known as breaking news.

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