Mike Allen writes a long article in the WaPo on the whole "cloak and dagger" trip, and then another on how the trip was planned. Both are detailed and useful. It seems that
Drudge has Allen’s private notes on the trip; worth a look.
It turns out that the trip was six weeks in the planning, but only a handful of people knew about it. Even some of the
Secret Service folks around didn’t know.
I think that it was a gutsy decision, one that will most certainly boost the morale of the troops. And it will also give a very clear signal that he means what he says about staying until the job is done. It shows resolve. Allen mentions a few other notable presidential visits in secrecy and even into combat zones, but he fails to mention Lincoln’s visit to Fort Stevens (North of Washington) in July of 1864. There, Lincoln was under fire by sharpshooters, and "a man was shot at his side", according to John Hay. Much has been made of this incident and many people. The future Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes and a free black woman named Elizabeth Thomas (whose house had been blown up by Union artillery) both claimed they were the one’s to yell at Lincoln something to the effect "Get down, you fool." I think this was the closest any sitting American president has come to danger in a war.
Here is the Time Mag story on the trip. I believe that the Demos will criticize the trip at their own peril; the American people certainly approve of such a Thanksgiving gesture. The spin has already started. On CNN this morning one of their reporters made reference to "political reprisals" stemming from the trip. This could have something to do with the fact that CNN is implying that they were tricked into not being in the White House press pool at the right time. But Fox News was in the pool. Some of the press (surprise) is just irritated that Bush "lied" to them. See this short note. Note that Senator Clinton was in Afganistan yesterday, She is in Iraq today.