Not since Ronald Reagan rode horseback alongside Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle in 1982 has a U.S. president’s arrival in London aroused such expectations as this week’s visit by George W. Bush.
With the media lined up, tens of thousands of protesters ready to march, and police on both sides of the Atlantic in furious discussions over such subjects as whether U.S. plainclothes security officers get to shoot on sight, King George, as he is now being called in some quarters, is hitting the beaches under the steadying fire of the cute girls adorning the front page of Rupert Murdoch’s Sun, where millions of eager readers turn every day for the latest in tits and ass. Here Bush’s “Forward Freedom” spin is polished for an eager audience. “Bush Message to Sun Readers,” screamed the paper’s Monday headline trumpeting its “exclusive interview” in the White House: “Your troops did not die in vain.”
Fortunately for Bush, these heavy thoughts are set amid a galaxy of drop-dead babes. There’s naughty Kylie: “Do you recall KYLIE MINOGUE promising to cover up her bum? She obviously doesn’t.” And there’s “A Brooke at bedtime for Bruce” above a pic of a Hollywood star’s new girl: “SEXBOMB Brooke Burns shows off the red-hot curves that have got Bruce Willis all fired up.”
But while “sexy wrestler and Playboy cover star Torrie Wilson” told the Sun‘s readers about “snogging other girls on television and in real-life,” there was some snogging going on behind the scenes. One British official told the press that preparations for the Bush visit had been “hijacked” by the U.S. Secret Service. “They wanted to make structural changes to the Queen’s home, and this was never going to happen,” said the aide. “Agents brought in structural engineers who said walls must be strengthened and the blast-proof glass replaced with something stronger. They were obsessed, and still are, by the threat of an attack from the air.”
There was even a plan for a Black Hawk helicopter to hover over the palace grounds. But the Brits said no.
Meanwhile, for the heavy thinkers there’s Sir David Frost’s sober interview with Bush in which the president, talking about how long we’ll be in Iraq, declares, “Well, we don’t think it will be years and years because, first of all, we think the Iraqi people are plenty capable of running their own country, and we think they want to run their own country. See, some in the world—some in the world don’t believe that Iraq can run itself. In other words, they believe that—well, might as well let them have a military dictatorship or a tyrant. That’s the only way they can be governed. I disagree, and Tony Blair disagrees with that. We believe that democracy will take hold in Iraq, and we believe a free and democratic Iraq will help change the Middle East. There are hundreds of reformers that are desperate for freedom. Freedom—freedom is not America’s gift to the world or Great Britain’s gift to the world. Freedom is the Almighty’s gift to everybody who lives in the world.”
He’ll have a chance to elaborate on that theme when he meets with relatives of Brits who have died in Iraq. One of the Sun‘s competitors, the Daily Express, reported that Bush said he would explain that their loved ones had died for a noble cause. But Reg Keys, father of Lance Corporal Thomas Keys, who died in Iraq, said Bush was just using “propaganda words.”
Keys told a telly reporter, “He’s trying to say that they died for a noble cause, but in my opinion soldiers in the First World War and the Second World War died for a noble cause because they were trying to repel a country that was invading our shores. What threat was Iraq to us?”
Additional reporting: Sheelah Kolhatkar, Ashley Glacel, and Alicia Ng