Bush's Thanksgiving Visit Was Ratings Ploy

Friday, December 5, 2003

Not every soldier was fooled by the President's "surprise" visit to Baghdad for Thanksgiving. Those of us older enlisted men see it for what it really was, a cheap ploy to boost sagging approval ratings amongst us who serve with honor.

Why is it that the President did not care enough to visit the troops on the previous two Thanksgiving holidays, when he had high approval ratings amongst both the troops and the public? Instead, he stayed at the ranch in Crawford. Sort of like he stayed in Texas and Alabama, where he was AWOL for a year from the Air National Guard, during the Vietnam War, while others such as Sen. John Kerry, Sen. John McCain, former Sen. Max Cleland, and yes, even Al Gore served in combat.

President Clinton twice visited troops in active combat zones (Eagle Base, Bosnia Christmas December 1997 and Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo Thanksgiving 1999). I don't know if most people still consider Korea an active combat zone, but the troops stationed at the DMZ since 1953 do. President Clinton spent Thanksgiving with the troops at the DMZ in 1998.

We know that President Bush appointed Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld who is single handedly doing more to destroy the United States Army than Saddam Hussein. We know that the Army was downsized enough during the previous Bush and Clinton years. Do Rumsfeld's proposals to drop two more divisions from the Army when we can't meet current deployment commitments seem wise to you?

What about the threats that Rumsfeld made in the name of the President to Congress about a veto of the Iraqi spending bill if items that would benefit service members weren't removed. We wanted to be worthy of the concurrent receipt that other federal employees have. Bush said we weren't. What about Reservists such as myself? We think we are worthy of receiving retirement benefits at age 55 instead of 60, especially since active duty retirees get theirs as soon as they retire. Bush said we weren't. We think that federal employees who also serve in the reserves should not have trouble feeding their families when they are deployed and their military pay is less then their regular salary. Bush doesn't care!

Bush doesn't even want soldiers to get campaign medals for serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. Tell us how much he cares for us again!

L. Brock Bennington,
Staff Sergeant, National Guard
Veteran: Desert Shield, Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom
Harrison, Tn

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