In a brilliant piece of strategery, President Bush and a small team including White House counselor Dan Bartlett and Press Secretary Tony Snow surprised the media and pretty much everyone else when Air Force One landed near Baghdad this morning for a visit with Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki and his new fully-installed cabinet. The most fascinating thing about this trip is not the trip itself, nor the obvious security risks involved; instead it is most remarkable the manner in which those very security risks were mitigated. The key was the element of suprise, in effect. But in this era, in which if the Ship of the White House is not leaking the media is standing by with power drills, somehow no one knew what was going on until the President was in the Iraqi capitol gladhanding al-Maliki and company.
The much-hyped Camp David “war summit” provided the perfect cover story. Basically it went down as such: after dinner, the President excused himself ostensibly to get some sleep. Instead he left to catch his 8:00 PM flight to Baghdad. A perfectly executed stratagem.
What point do I stress here? Simply this–I had my doubts that the White House was capable of such an innovation to achieve a diplomatic or PR mission. But today’s events smacked of a classic military artifice, and I love it. Bottom line, the gambit was cool. And our fearless Commander Chief proved once again that he ain’t skeered to do the right thing.