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Bush Makes Hairy Landing on Aircraft Carrier for End of War Speech

Bush Makes Hairy Landing on Aircraft Carrier for End of War Speech

Posted May. 04, 2003 22:08,   


U.S. President George W. Bush landed on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln. Wearing a pilot’s uniform, Bush showed two thumbs up like a pilot returning from a mission which he had successfully completed. Seeing their president`s hand gesture, the solders cheered with glee. President Bush then, during a speech to the sailors, announced the official end of the Iraq war.

A Republican political specialist defined President Bush`s announcement, which was aired on May 2, as "one of the greatest moments during his presidency."

The New York Times, which had maintained a critical view of the Bush administration and its war on Iraq, acknowledged the tremendous publicity effect the event had for the president. The paper commented that no president would have ever dreamed of giving the speech Mr. Bush gave on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier.

To successfully create a historical event, U.S. officials racked their brains and decided on the best situation in which the president would give his speech.

The biggest problem was whether President Bush, sitting in the co-pilot’s seat of the anti-submarine bomber fighter S-3B Viking, could safely land on the deck of the carrier. The Viking, in a very close call, attached to the fourth and last tether cable on the flight deck. If the plane had missed, the Viking would have had to return to the air for another landing attempt. Or, it could have dropped into the ocean. Watching the risky landing, the White House Secret Service and Navy officials were clinging to the edges of their seats.

White House officials had another reason to worry. Although President Bush boasted about his air force background in the Texas National Guard, his aides were not completely assured of its success.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, when asked on Thursday by reporters how they could tell if the plane was being flown by the President, said that if the flight came straight down, it would probably be flown by a Navy pilot; otherwise, the decision would be left up to their imagination. Fleischer`s joke caused a bit of concern on the part of White House staff over the president`s flying ability.

The White House spokesman and his team devised an elaborate plan in order not to repeat President Bush senior’s failure in reelections despite his victory in the first Gulf War. Each and every public move on the part of President Bush junior has been calculated and directed by the team. According to Reuters, the landing was also a drama that was borne out of fine calculation.

In line with the old adage, "like father, like son," President Bush senior parachuted out of a plane in 1999 to celebrate his 75th birthday.

Jung-Ahn Kim credo@donga.com