Substance: Watch what they say and do
You have to be very careful not to be taken in by photo opportunities.
When someone asks the media to come take a picture, knowing it will get worldwide play, there is usually is a reason.
In the case of the president of the United States and his recent trip to Dover, think of the power of the commander in chief of the U.S. military forces standing in full salute as a flag-draped coffin is pulled off an airplane.
Of course, it is going to be covered and appear in the newspapers and on television -- it is a tribute to a soldier by the leader of this nation at a time when he is considering what this country's next step will be with regard to Afghanistan.
There is no way to look at such a picture and not to think "how much compassion this man has; look how he is struggling with his decision."
And President Barack Obama is probably conflicted and concerned -- and, of course, his heart goes out to families who have lost loved ones, whose wouldn't.
But he is a smart man and a master at commanding attention and public sentiment -- and things have not been going so well in that regard lately.
So, you have to be careful when you see a photo like that.
The measure of the president's commitment to the troops can be found in the policies he creates and the speed at which he makes decisions that affect them -- and if he is really listening to those fighting the fight and not his party's faithful and the polls.
It is in what he says in this nation and abroad about the work they are doing in the Middle East.
It is in his actions, not in his photo ops.
Published in Editorials on October 29, 2009 11:04 AM