President Obama made an unannounced visit to Dover Air Force Base to salute flag-draped coffins of Americans killed in Afghanistan. He said the scene was "a sobering reminder" of the sacrifices U.S. soldiers make, and that the experience would influence his decision on sending more troops. Was this just a photo op—or a meaningful expression of respect? (Watch Obama arrive to salute fallen American troops)
Obama was doing the commander in chief's duty: Obama's "midnight mission to honor the war dead," say the editors of The New York Times, was "a long overdue display of national gratitude." Former President George W. Bush's ban on news coverage of the flag-draped coffins was a "shameful attempt" to "hide the pain of war." Obama's silent salute showed that he recognizes the "true cost of war."
"The commander's duty done"
Call it what it was—a photo op: President Obama took the press pool with him, says Jim Hoft in Gateway Pundit, which made this a photo op. Not only that, but only one of the 15 families went along with the show. Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, pointed out that George W. Bush paid his respects "without the cameras," and added: "the most important way for the president to pay tribute to those who sacrifice is to back them up" instead of "dithering" on sending more troops.
"Liz Cheney speaks out on Obama’s Dover photo-op"
This proves Obama knows it's his war now: Saluting flag-draped coffins shows that, "whatever his cherished domestic priorities," Obama knows "that he is a war president, like it or not," says Joel Mathis in Philadelphia Weekly. He understands that he's the one accountable for how the war turns out—"not just to the American public, but to every family that sacrifices a son or daughter" because of his decision to send troops into battle. So whether Obama scales down or "doubles down" in Afghanistan, at least we can be confident that "he understands the stakes."
"The meaning of Dover: Afghanistan is Obama’s war now"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Fall movie guide: All the films you should see in September
- Scottish independence is another financial crisis waiting to happen
- Hey, grammar nerds! Stop freaking out about 'alot.'
- The elusive 'It factor' in presidential politics
- 11 scientific studies that will restore your faith in humanity
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- Why the West should let Russia have eastern Ukraine
- 10 things you need to know today: September 1, 2014
- The next pandemic
Subscribe to the Week