Quiet as a Tomb
While I only listened to parts of Bush's Ft. Bragg speech, I was struck by the lack of applause. Usually, when one hears the President give a Nationally televised speech, it is fairly frequently punctuated by applause. Yet, in this instance, there was no feedback from the audience (of soldiers). I noticed it, and assumed that there had been some instructions to "sit on their hands". Apparently, I was correct. Ironically, the troops were too silent, at least with respect to the wishes of the White House flacks. In an endeavor to stage manage the event, "orders" were given out, which were interpreted by the troops as a directive to stay silent, and to refrain from clapping. However, the White House managers only wanted to insure that the troops were not inappropriately enthusiastic, given the speech was on such a serious subject. They were quite chagrined at the prospect that viewers might have interpreted the silence of the troops as a tacit rebuke of Bush.
Hoist by their own petard, I say!
The networks were really burned by Bush & Co. Normally, I would say that there is a Civic responsibility to set aside air time, and broadcast a policy speech. But Bush's speech was so vapid, so predictable, and so craven, that it would have be perfectly appropriate not to go for the pre-empt option.