As conservatives have rent their garments over President Obama's decision to honor fallen soldiers by going to Dover Air Force Base to be there when they were returned to U.S. soil yesterday morning, they've invented a new talking point: President Bush was more respectful to the troops, because Obama “used the troops coming home in coffins as a photo op,” while Bush would do so without getting the press involved. The talking point is half-right; Bush never brought the press to Dover to take pictures of him receiving the coffins, because Bush never went to Dover to receive to coffins.
Liz Cheney got the ball rolling yesterday on John Gibson's radio show by saying:
I think that what President Bush used to do is do it without the cameras. And I don't understand sort of showing up with the White House Press Pool with photographers and asking family members if you can take pictures. That's really hard for me to get my head around...It was a surprising way for the president to choose to do this.
Rush Limbaugh jumped on board this afternoon, airing Cheney's comments and saying:
President Bush used to do it, did you know that? We didn't know it, she just told us something we didn't know. Bush used to do it, but there were no cameras. He did it privately with the family.
Unfortunately, the reason we “didn't know it” is that it didn't happen. CBS News reported yesterday:
Mr. Obama's predecessor, President George W. Bush, visited the families of hundreds of fallen soldiers but did not attend any military funerals or go to Dover to receive the coffins. In a 2006 interview with the military newspaper “Stars and Stripes,” Bush said he felt the appropriate way to show his respect was to meet with family members in private.
So there you have it. Bush never took the press to Dover because he never went there in the first place.