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It was surreal, to say the least, I think some of the others have used this description as well. We gathered in the Roosevelt room adjacent from the Oval office an hour before our meeting to be briefed, get video com set-up, checking mics, while at the same time, giving the “Baghdad Bills” a hard time on their choice of attire. T- shirts, baseball caps and unshaven. The President also chided them at the end of the meeting.
The anticipation of meeting the President was far more nerve wracking than actually meeting him. Matt joked before hand that he wasn’t sure if Mohammed would be able to go the whole meeting without a cigarette. I worried I’d have to excuse myself during the meeting to go to the ladies room after gulping down an extra large white chocolate mocha coffee from Starbucks. But after the President entered the room, worked his way around the table, shaking hands and sitting comfortably in his chair, we all immediately felt at ease. He thanked us for coming and acknowledged it was the "first time a president had met with bloggers at the White House". It was history in the making. This alone was awe-inspiring and I did have to concentrate hard to keep from having an idiotic grin on my face thru out the meeting, especially since we were all discussing serious issues.
Unfortunately, I did not get to say much since the President gave very long but thought provoking answers to the important questions given him, starting with the Baghdad Bills, and going around to a few others. We only had an hour, and there were 10 of us, and The President is a busy man. It didn't matter, really, it was an honor to be there and just being there was saying something.
Bill Roggio from A Long War Journal, currently embedded in Iraq, asked, “…With the current blurring of the lines between domestic politics and foreign policy, and the unwillingness of the American people to fight the current war, how do you get the American public to support the current and future conflicts?”
You can find his less condensed question and the President’s answer here.
Bill Ardolino from INCD Journal, currently embedded in Iraq, asked, “What influence or leverage is being applied with the national Iraqi government to ensure that such assistance is delivered to the province? And note that the desire for support is tempered by the local belief - incorrect or correct to whatever degree - that the central Iraqi government under Maliki is compromised by Iranian interests.”
You can find the Presidents response here.
BlackFive mentioned that he had an embed headed for the Philippines to join a Special Forces unit there, which evoked a surprised look from General Lute.
John of Castle Argghhh! asked "Mr. President - you talk about and clearly believe in the "Long War" and that it's the President's job to see "over the horizon" and beyond the next Gallup Poll. How are you going to set the conditions so that your successor will continue the fight - regardless of who wins the election?"
His wife, Beth, She who Must be Obeyed, was there at the Whitehouse too but the Whitehouse staff kept her busy with a personal tour of the Whitehouse during our meeting. She also got to say hello to Barney the First Dog. How cool is that?
CJ at A Soldier’s Perspective had made a comment regarding the troops but I just could not write fast enough and have a poor memory, so I’ll update this section later.
Update: Seems CJ could not remember his question either, but for good reason. Find out why here.
NZ Bear was able to comment on his efforts with the Stand By the Mission petition. He emphasized the success they have had and the way they've been able to do their part via the petition to push back against Move-On's libel against General Petraeus by giving Americans a way to express their support for the general and our troops, and the President of course welcomed the news.
Ward Caroll representing, Military.com and Defense Tech, then asked "after watching the original 9-11 "Today Show" broadcast in real time and that the experience had left him, wondering whether his petition to the nation had been strong enough in terms of calling citizens to duty?
The president paused for a moment and then replied that he believed the nation had responded. "Volunteerism is up nationwide," he said. "I'm headed to Quantico after this meeting to speak to a group of Marine second lieutenants, men and women who are joining the fight in spite of what they hear in the polls."
About that time the Chief-of-staff Josh Bolten poked his head in and the President asked, "Is the copter here?" Our signal that this meeting was quickly coming to an end.
Like myself, Steve Schippert with The Tank and Muhammed from Iraq the Model, did not get time to ask our questions. You can find Steve’s thoughts of the day here and if and Muhammed puts up a post I’ll up date this section as well.
I really did not have a question for the President anyway but wanted to comment that reading hundreds of milblogs every morning, that the troops are stating the same things that General Petraeus conveyed during his report and that I found it appalling how he was treated by congress and how he was accused of "cooking the books". That the troops see the progress and the reduction in violence in most areas and General Petraeus passed on their thoughts honestly. The president was adamant when he said, "I will do everything in my power to support the troops and their families” and I believe he means it.
He did express that he was very upset with the Move-On.org ad. If anyone should be attacked, it should be him, it is his policy, Petraeus was only giving the report they asked for. When he became President he knew what he was getting into, "I don't mind people attacking me . . . that's politics . . . but I do mind people impugning the integrity of our generals." He also said that he did not want to bash the media, that is when I said “that's what we were here for, to correct them when they have facts wrong and keep them in line”, my only line in the meeting. Not really the one I wanted to leave with, but oh well.
We were then escorted into the Oval office for individual photos. Cj was hoping to get one behind the desk, but no such luck. After photos, the President then exuberantly slapped Presidental coins in each of our hands. Here is where we got to personally meet and shake the hands of Tony Snow on his last day, his replacement Dana Perino and Stephen Hadley. Then President headed out to Marine one.
We stepped onto the Portico outside the Oval office and watched him step onto Marine One headed for Quantico. He turned and waved goodbye to us then to the press that was waiting on the Whitehouse lawn. A few reporters curiously glanced our way, which we found quite amusing, as I’m sure the President did.
After he left we were led into a hall where, we could use the restrooms, finally, goodbye to the extra large white chocolate mocha coffee. CJ reminded Vanessa our hostess, that when he used Saddam's toilet that it was solid gold and that they "may need to update" the Whitehouse toilets. It was duly noted.
My overall impression of the President is he is very intelligent, focused, engaging and genuine. He sincerely believes in the message of freedom and the necessity of this fight for victory because they “will follow us home otherwise”. He also truly believes the war is "winnable."
I wish it were Greyhawk that had been there, I think he could have added much more and he deserved it but I’m glad I got to go. Out of the mouth of littlest Greyhawk, "that must have been AAAAAAWESOME!" ...and it was.
Gosh, Mrs. G, reading that made me feel like I was there! Thanks for sharing the personal as well as professional side to this experience. FWIW, I would not have lasted without either the cig or the bathroom ;-)
What a huge honor for you and GH, and for all who were invited. And very well-deserved. Thank you both for all you do.Posted by MaryAnn at September 16, 2007 09:12 PM
Hey! Dat's *my*
Photoshop Paint work!
But it's true, you know we all look alike...Posted by John of Argghhh! at September 16, 2007 11:25 PM
AAAAAAWESOME Mrs. G!Posted by SFC D at September 17, 2007 03:00 AM
Nicely done, Mrs G... but an extra large white chocolate mocha coffee
what were you thinking???? LOLPosted by Some Soldier's Mom at September 17, 2007 03:20 AM
I am proud and grateful for all of you in attendance, and for those who enabled you to be there. Congratulations, and thank you for your dedication getting the truth out about our troops and conditions on the ground, something at which the MSM failed miserably. I credit your collective efforts with preventing the liberal Defeatists from rampaging unchecked. Keep up the effort; we're depending on you.
It is encouraging that the President spent this time with you. This was most appropriate on his part, as he owes you a debt of gratitude, too. It was also an excellent way to thank and inform the troops.
I've emailed and called many elected officials (and military officers) over the past several years to encourage they heed and support your efforts, so this event is very special to me as well. I'm sure many others feel the same way.Posted by E. T. Page USN 71-78 at September 17, 2007 04:28 AM
Thank you, Mrs. G, for representing "us"- the supporters of this war and our brave military- there at the White House.
I am glad you were able to attend. God bless, stay safe, and get some rest!Posted by Artbyruth at September 17, 2007 04:44 AM
Great post - no one deserves this more than you do, Mrs. G. :)Posted by Cassandra at September 17, 2007 11:25 AM
Sorry John you're right. I should put both your names. It was a combined effort.Posted by Mrs G at September 17, 2007 11:42 AM
A great recap of the events. Like MaryAnn, I felt like I was there when reading your account. A true once in a lifetime experience, and nobody was more deserving of this than you. I'm sure this made all of the hard work you do on behalf of the military community worthwhile.Posted by Andi at September 17, 2007 12:56 PM
Outstanding! It makes me proud to be one of your readers. I believe that if it wasn't for those bloggers like yourself, the Left and the MSM would have hijacked all the facts. Never Again!Posted by dianainsa at September 17, 2007 03:34 PM
Now, we all know there is no such thing as an "extra large" at Starbuck's. It's a "venti" which I think is Eyetalian for "twenty." And a "grande" is smaller than a "venti." Just why is that, again?
On a serious note, it was a big score for the milbloggers to post, getting a sit-down with POTUS. It's a tribute to the work you do and how you have maintained faith all these months. I'm serious. Good for you.
I am going to miss this man, our President. His faith in the rightness of the cause is something possible only for a President whose purpose exceeds watching the opinion polls. He has brought renewed dignity and seriousness to the White HousePosted by Jack in Phoenix at September 17, 2007 04:09 PM
Thank you for sharing your impressions... what an amazing experience for all of you!Posted by Flag Gazer at September 17, 2007 04:45 PM
Naaah ... can't be any of you guys.
According to some of those I tried to "educate" in DC Saturday, if it really were y'all, you'd have horns, breathe fire, and drink blood instead of Starubucks ... all with a hypnotic stare produced by the meeting you had with the VP, after the President left ... his hypnosis worked so well, you were inhibited from reporting on that later meeting.
Hey, that is just as plausible as what the 911 Truthers were telling us Saturday ...
As I told Matt at Blackfive ... a true gathering of Men and Women.
It is so gratifying to see the CINC recognize Men and Women who have worked in a mighty way to reinforce his position against insurgencies, foreign and domestic, on the virtual battlefield of ideas ...
... not because they want to see an (R) at the top of the White House roster, but because they know the wisdom of supporting those who ACT to assure that the blessings of liberty remain secured.
Bravo Zulu ... to all of you.
I wish I could have been a fly on the wall.I am glad you got to represent the female side of the milbloggers. Thank you for all you do!
Good job Mrs. G. Too bad Mr G couldnt be there with you. Loved your post.Posted by Lucille at September 17, 2007 10:17 PM
You people are natural-born suckers. What an insipid, credulous post. Keep it up wingnuts!Posted by John at September 18, 2007 06:38 PM
I did have to concentrate hard to keep from having an idiotic grin on my face thru out the meeting
Let me take a guess and say you were wildly unsuccessful in this attempt:).Posted by d. b. cooper at September 19, 2007 06:35 AM
Mrs. G. I'm so happy you had that opportunity, and proud too :)Posted by Laurie at September 19, 2007 04:02 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(18) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)