From a cranky Washington journalist friend who didn’t care for my Naval officer friend’s explanation of the President’s landing aboard the ship:
There is no dispute about the White House’s shifting story: First, the landing was required because the ship would be “hundreds of miles from shore” when the president arrived. Then, when reporters got aboard the Lincoln, they could see land and were told by Navy PAOs that the ship was about 30 miles from shore. These same reporters saw that the ship was turned to face away from land. They saw that the ship was changing course to delay arrival and keep land out of the TV shot. The White House’s final explanation – that Bush just decided he wanted to do that landing no matter what the circumstances – came a week later.
Look, it was a great photo-op, wonderfully staged, with the assistance of the Navy (no matter which scenario you believe). I don’t begrudge the guy his trip to the carrier, how he accomplished that trip, what he wore on that airplane or during his speech. It was truly a thing of beauty. But the idea that it was all a case of confusing carrier maneuvers, instead of genius political maneuvering, is just insulting.
I can’t speak for the Dems, but most of journalists’ annoyance stems from the fact that Ari chose not to reveal any of the facts on the day of the story, misleading TV, radio and wire correspondents by omission.
And your source’s explanation is laughable. It requires you to believe that the USS Abraham Lincoln’s skipper, leading a battle group home, unilaterally decided to ignore orders and established procedure and hasten to shore, surprising the Navy and the White House. It requires you to believe that, the very morning of the president’s flight, the White House did not know that their advance figures were wrong.
The flight suit explanation is even more embarrassing: Yes, he had to wear it. No, it had nothing to do with “Navy folk like it when you look like them.” (Speech in a suit, anyone?). Since when do American presidents get to wear uniforms just because they blend in with their audiences? I’m not talking about flight jackets. I’m talking about actual military attire. As for the “4th cable” issue, it arose because Navy folk on board the Lincoln joked that their colleague would take a heap of crap for almost having to circle around to try a second landing. I believe they call it a “touch and go.” They may have been wrong, they may have been kidding, but they – and, later, the Pentagon – were the source.