When I first heard that President Obama was going to Dover Air Force base yesterday to honor the troops killed in this weekend's horrific helicopter shoot-down, I was actually quite pleased. It appeared that Obama was doing the right thing for the right reason.
then I heard that the press -- in particular photographers and videographers -- was banned from the event. That set my teeth on edge, since Obama had made quite a show of reversing a two-decade-old policy in order to permit photographs and video of the returning coffins containing the remains of our honored war dead. indeed, I tweeted the following in one of my more cynical moments while discussing the matter with a couple of other commentators.
I let the matter drop when Mark Knoller assured me that the Pentagon had stated that this was not a White House call, but rather done because not all of the remains had been identified and therefore the families could not consent. The excuse seemed terribly. . . convenient, but at least plausible. And besides -- I still found it quite appropriate that the Commander-in-Chief would make the trip for this particular group of war dead. There would be no pictures.
So imagine my shock when I saw this picture.
Apparently photos were permitted -- only the White House had arranged to have only an official White House photographer present, with his activities directed and circumscribed by aides to President Obama. So much for respecting the desires of the families because the dead had not yet been identified!.
What's more, it is now known that 19 of the 30 families of the dead requested that there be no press coverage -- including no photographs -- of the return of these heroes.
Put bluntly, what this means is that the Obama Administration made a show of having no photography out of respect for the dead and their family, only to disregard those wishes and have their own photo show up on the White House website.
I'm torn between describing this betrayal of the troops and their families by the Commander-in-Chief as shameful and shameless. Frankly, I don't know which more clearly describes the contemptible deed that was perpetrated here. But regardless of your preference, do not forget this opportunistic betrayal of our dead troops -- and do not allow those you know to forget it between now and November 6, 2012.