News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


TV talk full of sound and fury, but signifies nothing

The White House thought a teleconference call between President Bush and selected troops in Tikrit on Thursday, carried live by the cable news outlets, would go a long way toward reversing a growing anti-war sentiment in the United States.

A seemingly impromptu, upbeat talk among the commander-in-chief, 10 U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi soldier detailing the success in Iraq and showing the high spirits there could have been just what the administration needed to boost the president's sagging poll numbers.

But the fact that the conversation was obviously scripted, coached and rehearsed prevented the made-for-television event from having any significant impact.

Asked about the scripted nature of the event, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said it was coordinated with the Defense Department, but that the troops were expressing their own thoughts.

"I think all they were doing was talking to the troops and letting them know what to expect," Mr. McClellan said, adding that the president wanted to talk with troops on the ground who have firsthand knowledge about the situation.

The soldiers all gave Mr. Bush an upbeat view of the situation.

The president also received praise from the Iraqi soldier who was part of the chat.

"Thank you very much for everything," he gushed. "I like you."

The event was almost comical in its presentation, not unlike a poorly produced high school drama production.

In a way, the conversation was similar to a young child reciting the pledge of allegiance by rote or reading a prayer from a book.

It did no harm. But it really didn't have any meaning, either.

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