Tales from the Trail

Obama walks in rain-soaked cemetery of U.S. war dead

President Barack Obama walked in the rain among the graves of U.S. casualties from the Iraq and Afghan wars at Arlington National Cemetery and took an unscheduled detour into section 60, a thicket of simple white headstones, to mark Veterans Day. OBAMA/

Underscoring the poignancy of the visit, Obama was due to hold a war council later on Wednesday as he tries to decide whether to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan, where U.S. forces experienced their bloodiest month in October.

The president, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama, bent down briefly at the headstone of 19-year-old Specialist Ross McGinnis, who was awarded the United States’ highest military decoration for valor, the Medal of Honor.

McGinnis was killed when he threw himself onto a grenade during a patrol in Baghdad in  2006.

The first couple, bareheaded and ignoring the miserable weather, spoke and shook hands with visitors they found by the gravesides, one of whom Michelle Obama hugged.

Bush aircraft carrier landing redux

NEW YORK – President George W. Bush in 2003 landed aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln on a Navy jet where he delivered a speech saying major combat operations in Iraq had ended with a “Mission Accomplished” banner behind him, which later caused his administration headaches as the war dragged on.

On Tuesday, Bush landed on another aircraft carrier but this time was on much safer political ground. He landed on the Intrepid, a carrier that has been transformed into a museum which Bush helped re-dedicate as part of his last Veteran’s Day speech as commander-in-chief.

“Not only do we honor those who have worn the uniform, those who are wearing the uniform, we honor their families, and we thank them from the bottom of our hearts,” Bush said. ”We have a moral obligation to support our families, and we have a moral obligation to support our veterans. It has been my privilege to work with members of the United States Congress to nearly double the funding for those who have worn the uniform.”

The First Draft

Today is Veterans Day, a government holiday. President Bush will give a Veterans Day address at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington Cemetery.
President-elect Barack Obama‘s visit with Bush at the White House on Monday dominated the morning news shows, along with interviews from Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Obama pressed Bush to help the struggling auto industry, The New York Times reported. It says Bush indicated he might support some aid if Democrats accepted the free-trade deal with Colombia.
Palin told Fox news and others she wanted to do more media interviews during her turn as Republican John McCain’s vice presidential running mate during the recent election. And she isn’t ruling out another run for high office.
“If there is an open door in ’12 or four years later and if it is something that is going to be good for my family, my state, my nation, an opportunity for me, then I’ll plow through that door, but I can’t predict what’s going to happen,” she said.
Economic woes dominate other big U.S. newspapers. The Washington Post says Fannie Mae and AIG are still struggling despite their federal takeover.
The Wall Street Journal leads with strains mounting on the federal financial bailout. Fannie Mae may need another cash infusion, it says, and American Express has won quick approval from the Federal Reserve to become a bank holding company, which makes it eligible for cash from the Treasury.
U.S. stock futures are down Tuesday morning, pointing to another drop on Wall Street following a slide in Asia and Europe earlier in the day.

For more Reuters political coverage, click here.