My dad, a 30 year navy vet (retired commander) defended the accuracy of the 200+ mile number originally quoted when this photo-op was carried (no pun) out. He swore to me up and down that it was not unreasonable to take a jet to the carrier. I said that the Marine Corps provide the president with a very nice helocopter for these things, and he said no, they were too far off shore.
Hmmm, 30 miles offshore? Is that too far for a helocopter? no. Pres Bush wanted to land via tailhook. Cool. No problem really, It's just that THAT'S NOT WHAT THEY TOLD ~US~
Who bought the original answer? well, every mass media news outlet did, and reported it as such. I did, at first. Then i began to wonder.
then someone said 30 miles and everyone said "Nooooooooo, he used the jet because they were so far away and the president didn't want to hold up the ship by waiting until they were closer to shore"
Well, here's what Are Fleisher had to say today
Here's my (edited to fit your screen, not for content) version with the non-topic questions removed.
May 7, 2003
PRESS BRIEFING BY ARI FLEISCHER
..took some stuff out...
Q: Ari, was it the Vice President's idea to have the President land in
the plane on the Abraham Lincoln?
MR. FLEISCHER: The Vice President pointed out to the President that
he, himself, had done it. So it was a variety of different people --
Q: He choppered.
MR. FLEISCHER: Pardon me?
Q: He choppered.
MR. FLEISCHER: No, he has also landed on an aircraft that was caught
by a tailhook. I don't know if it was a Viking specifically, but he
flew on an aircraft onto the aircraft carrier in the past.
...took some more stuf out...
Q: About the Lincoln. About how -- when was this decided? When
hostilities started diminishing, or what? When was this whole decision
decided for him to fly in on the Lincoln aircraft carrier?
MR. FLEISCHER: Yes, I think I answered all that in the gaggle on the
way out to the Lincoln, so you've got a record of all of that. This
was as the President decided he wanted to address the nation and to
give a speech to sum up to the country where we were as the conflict
wound down. There were discussions of the best venues, the various
venues for the President to talk to the American people. And the
President thought the very best venue would be in a place where he
could thank the men and women who helped make it possible in person.
Q: Last week you said the speech was significant because, one, we
found out that he started rehearsing in the theater for this, and you
said it was significant. But tell me this, because of the significance
of this, did he need drama to emphasize the significance of this
MR. FLEISCHER: I think that the suggestion -- the President wanted to
go out somewhere to thank the men and women who made this possible in
person. They deserve nothing less. These are the men and women who
fought a war to keep us free, to protect us and to save us. They
deserve no less.
... took some more stuff out...
Q: One quick note on the carrier. This is not my question, but some of
my Navy pilot friends that the pilot that flew the President out is
lucky he didn't have to swim home, because he caught the #4 wire
instead of the #3. (Laughter.) Anyway, my question --
MR. FLEISCHER: Ivan, I would remind you they have the ability to
precisely target a lot of different places, and they have coordinates
for that seat. I would not want to say anything about Navy flying
skills. They all appear excellent to me.
...took some more stuff out...
Q: Can I just clear something up? My understanding is that the Lincoln
was about 30 miles off shore.
MR. FLEISCHER: That's correct.
Q: Which is, about -- given transit speed, piloting speed, about two
hours away from the dock. If the President wanted to meet the sailors
where they were, why didn't he meet them in San Diego? Why was the
ship kept at sea for an extra afternoon and evening and a night?
MR. FLEISCHER: It was not kept at sea for an extra afternoon, evening
or a night. The carrier was always, always, always scheduled to come
back on May 2nd. And could you imagine what would have happened if it
arrived earlier? Sailors would have gotten off the ship without their
family being there. People made plans to attend a May 2nd arrival from
different parts of the country. They don't necessarily arrive, ready
to go, on the 1st, if they're told it's the 2nd. That was an issue
that we talked about on the ship. The date always was May 2nd, and
they keep the date that they promised the sailors and their families.
Q: Ari, a follow-up on that please, a follow-up on that?
MR. FLEISCHER: Go ahead, Lester.
Q: Considering Senator Byrd's charging the President with flamboyant
showmanship on the Lincoln, what is the President's reaction to what
an editor of West Virginia's Charleston Gazette noted this morning are
so many dozens of buildings, roads, statues, bridges, locks, dams,
hospitals and even a river named by Robert C. Byrd, that there have
been signs posted, the Robert C. Byrd telephone poll and the Robert C.
Byrd parking meter? And I have one follow-up.
MR. FLEISCHER: Why don't you ask your follow-up first. (Laughter.)
Q: Doesn't the President -- don't you have some reaction to this
MR. FLEISCHER: I think we've exhausted that topic.
Q: The Dixie Chicks -- (laughter) --
MR. FLEISCHER: Speaking of topics that have not been exhausted.
... i'll just stop here.....