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Ignore Your Aides, Mr. President

Meet the returning troops--and invite your predecessor to join you.

2:09 PM, Aug 22, 2010 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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Peter Baker reports in the New York Times--"As Mission Shifts in Iraq, Risks Linger for Obama"--that President Obama has so far marked the official end of America's combat mission in Iraq only with a written statement, and one sentence at a pair of fund-raisers: "We are keeping the promise I made when I began my campaign for the presidency: by the end of this month, we will have removed 100,000 troops from Iraq, and our combat mission will be over in Iraq." But, Baker adds, "the White House wants to find a way to mark the moment...Mr. Obama plans to make a high-profile speech on the drawdown next week, and aides are discussing whether to have him meet with returning troops."

Ignore Your Aides, Mr. President

President Obama fist-bumps a U.S. soldier at Camp Victory in Baghdad on April 7, 2009.

Official White House photo by Pete Souza

"Aides are discussing whether to have him meet with returning troops?" You've got to be kidding. President Obama himself has repeatedly paid tribute to the extraordinary performance of these troops in Iraq. I'm confident he'll have no patience for his aides' childish debates, and will insist upon meeting some of the returning troops to express our gratitude.

Indeed, the fact that George W. Bush recently went to Dallas-Fort Worth Airport to greet returning service men and women (media weren't invited--but see home videos posted on youtube) leads to a suggestion: President Obama should invite President Bush to join him somewhere in the next several days to greet troops returning from Iraq. This would be an appropriate way to show the respect and gratitude of a united nation.

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