PRESIDENT AT DOVER…. For all the talk in recent years about whether American media should be allowed to cover — and whether the American public should be allowed to see — flag-draped caskets as fallen U.S. soldiers return home, it was good to see President Obama pay his respects this morning at Dover Air Force Base.

It was apparently the president’s first trip to the air base. The trip was not announced in advance and Obama arrived shortly after midnight. Obama stood at attention to salute Army Sgt. Dale Griffin of Indiana, whose family gave permission for this morning’s coverage.

The NYT reported, “The bodies returning to Dover Air Force Base shortly after midnight included seven Army soldiers and three agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency who were killed when their helicopter crashed on Monday in rural Afghanistan. The bodies of eight soldiers killed in an attack on Monday also arrived on an Air Force C-17.”

Obama also met with family members in the chapel of the Air Force base. The AP added, “Most of the event was closed to media and journalists were only allowed to see the transfer of the last casket.”

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.