During the last administration, the media was prevented from taking pictures of the flag-draped coffins. At President Obama’s first prime time press conference, he was asked whether he would reverse that decision and let the media take pictures of the flag-draped coffins.
I didn’t like it then, and I still don’t like it. The reason the media wants that access is obvious, and it has nothing to do with respect for the families and their spouse, father, son, daughter, mother, brother, or sister that paid the ultimate price for our country.
I have no reservation whatsoever in saying that pictures of our fallen heroes should be off limits for the media. The media’s interest should stop at the announcement of the fatality. Beyond that it is a private family matter of no business of the media.
But when asked about this, the new Commander In Chief did not have the courage to answer that question. As the Commander In Chief, he ought to have an opinion about that, and ought to be able to give it. But what he gave is, oh, we’re looking into it. Translation: This issue hasn’t been focus group tested yet, so I’ll tell you what my position is as soon as they tell me what it is.
I’m not exaggerating. Here is the transcript.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. You’ve promised to send more troops to Afghanistan. And since you’ve been very clear about a time table to withdraw our combat troops from Iraq within 16 months, I wonder what’s your time table to withdraw troops eventually from Afghanistan?
And related to that, there’s a Pentagon policy that bans media coverage of the flag-draped coffins from coming into Dover Air Force Base. And back in 2004, then-Senator Joe Biden said that it was shameful for dead soldiers to be, quote, snuck back into the country under the cover of night.
You’ve promised unprecedented transparency, openness in your government. Will you overturn that policy, so the American people can see the full human cost of war?
MR. OBAMA: Your question is timely. We got reports that four American service members have been killed in Iraq today. And you know, obviously our thoughts and prayers go out to the families.
I’ve said before that, you know, people have asked me, “When did it hit you that you are now president?” And what I told them was the most sobering moment is signing letters to the families of our fallen heroes. It reminds you of the responsibilities that you carry in this office and the consequences of decisions that you make.
Now with respect to the policy of opening up media to loved ones being brought back home, we are in the process of reviewing those policies in conversations with the Department of Defense. So I don’t want to give you an answer now, before I’ve evaluated that review and understand all the implications involved.
Upon second read, there is another possibility as to why the President did not answer the question. The problem might be that most people, democrats included, would find it hard to make a case to again put them on display in such a way. Which leaves only the far left, his political base, to be offended if he were to say that he would not seek to overturn the current protocol. I doubt they can focus group a good reason to put the flag-draped caskets back on the newspaper’s front page. Well, I’m hoping.
But for someone who makes all his own decisions, why is he stalling on answering this one? His empty-suit is showing again.
link: Obama’s Prime-time Press Briefing