It is almost a point of no dispute among Republicans that active duty military almost unanimously support the President and his policy, and with pretty much the same level of confidence they will tell you about how much most active duty military hated Bill Clinton (remember Jesse Helms once joking in very poor taste, on November 22 of all days, that if President Clinton visited military troops at Fort Bragg, he'd need a bodyguard?)
Well, sometimes those cherished paradigms are hard to let go of. But let go of them, the Republicans will have to sooner or later. I blogged last week about how the President's support and approval for the Iraq war have both fallen significantly among active duty military (although to be fair, these numbers are still significantly higher, by 15-20%, than they are for the population as a whole). Only 54%, a bare majority, even say that they still support the President's mission in Iraq.
OK, so the troops as a whole still support Bush, but by a margin that no one on the right would be willing to admit to (I've asked rightist bloggers about this, and they still claim it is about 80% or 90% when you can get them to throw a number at you).
And what about Clinton? The man who Jesse Helms figured needed a bodyguard around troops? Well, if today's chance encounter is any indication, our troops not only don't hate President Clinton, they genuinely like him.
Former President Bill Clinton surprised U.S. troops from Iraq when his refueling stop at the Bangor International Airport coincided with their arrival....
"Thank you for your service," Clinton said as he shook hands and hugged many of the troops. He autographed hats, cards and other items.
Clinton had some fun when Army Spc. Joshua Ruschenberg used a cell phone provided by troop greeters to call to his sister-in-law, Shancy Garrison, in North Carolina. He handed over the phone to the former commander in chief.
"Hi, Shancy, it's Bill Clinton," the former president said into the phone.
The troops, about 600 of them, were returning to bases in Oklahoma, Texas and Georgia. Their two chartered aircraft had landed for fuel.
"This is great," Staff Sgt. Anthony Thompson of New York City told the Bangor Daily News.
Sounds like Jesse can forget about the body guard. They like Clinton.
Must grate on the ears of some on the right to even entertain the thought.