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Monday, May 09, 2011

The Obama Photo-Op Scandal That Wasn't

It was a case of excessive celebration. A "victory lap" around the body of Osama bin Laden. Announcing that the most wanted terrorist leader in the world had been killed by US forces, the Obama administration released this photo:

Bush in flight suit

Danged fumble-fingers -- wrong photo. That's George W. Bush in 2003, announcing the huge success of winning the war in Iraq. He later stood under a banner that read "Mission accomplished." A little premature, perhaps -- the vast majority of both US and civilian casualties in that war occurred after Bush declared it a tremendous victory for himself America.


Bush arrived on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln to deliver his speech in Navy One -- a Lockheed S-3B Viking jet. He then walked around to get some photos taken of himself in that flight suit, then stood at the podium, making sure that the big "Mission accomplished" banner was visible in the background.

And then there was this:

Dana Milbank, May 2003:

White House officials had said, both before and after Bush's landing in a Navy S-3B Viking jet, that he took the plane solely to avoid inconveniencing the sailors, who were returning home after a deployment of nearly 10 months. The officials said that Bush decided not to wait until the ship was in helicopter range to avoid delaying the troops' homecoming.

But instead of the carrier being hundreds of miles offshore, as aides had said it would be, the Lincoln was only about 30 miles from the coast when Bush made his "tail-hook" landing, in which the jet was stopped by cables on deck. Navy officers slowed and turned the ship when land became visible.

In short, the ship was positioned so that Bush would be able to get that photo of himself in a flight suit. Then the ship was turned around so you couldn't see land. Despite what the White House said, this seems like it would've inconvenienced the sailors on their way home. He could've arrived in the boring old Marine One helicopters and walked out on the deck in a blue suit and Republican red tie.

Or, he could've waited a little bit and greeted them at the dock. But what propaganda value would that have?

But back to the horrible, terrible, unconscionably self-serving photo the Obama White House released. Here it is, as shameful as it is to look at:

Obama stands at podium

Turns out that photo was staged! Obama posed for it, only pretending to give the speech he gave, so that news organizations would have a good photo to accompany the story. There are more.

"It turns out now that all of the non-White House still photographs of the president's dramatic entrance down the hall into the East Room and the late Sunday evening speech itself were faked," wrote the LA Time's Andrew Malcolm last week. "They were not taken during the actual event, which was photographed only by official White House photographer Pete Souza during the live TV broadcast."

"It is a minor matter unless truth is a concern," he goes on.

No, it's a minor matter period. What truth is being hidden by these posed photos? Did Obama not give the speech? Is Osama bin Laden not dead? What misconceptions about the story would someone have after looking at the photo? In what way does it change a damned thing?

I guess Obama should've jetted off to an aircraft carrier in a flight suit -- for no real reason. Hell, he could've one-upped Bush and given his address in a spacesuit from the international space station. But releasing a staged photo of his announcement that Osama bin Laden had been taken down?

The worst thing ever.


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