Thursday, July 28, 2005

Support Our (Scout) Troops 

There were thousands of them: fine young American men in uniform, far from home, sent into the field on the basis of a lie. They hadn't prepared for the brutal conditions they found there. They'd been told it would all be over soon, but of course it wasn't, and as the casualties mounted and the danger escalated they began to wonder: why are we here to begin with? Where was the man who'd lied to them? Where was the Commander-in-Chief, who'd abandoned them to face the hazards that he himself had always managed, would always manage, to avoid?

Yup, it's the same old story -- in miniature:
The Boy Scouts marched onto the field singing, plopping down in the grass to wait for President Bush. But hours later, the news that Bush couldn't make it was drowned out by sirens and shouts as hundreds fell ill because of the blistering heat.

About 300 people, most of them Scouts, suffered from dehydration, fatigue and lightheadedness Wednesday -- just days after four Scout leaders were killed at the national Jamboree while pitching a tent beneath a power line.

Temperatures at Fort A.P. Hill, an Army base where the 10-day event is being held, reached the upper 90s and were intensified by high humidity . . . .

Half of the 300 who fell ill were treated and released from the fort's hospital. Dozens more were sent to surrounding hospitals, where they were in stable condition Wednesday night, Jamboree spokesman Gregg Shields said.

The more than 40,000 Scouts, volunteers, and leaders attending the event had been standing in the sun about three hours when word came that severe thunderstorms and high winds were forcing the president to postpone his appearance until Thursday. Bush's spokesman said Thursday that the visit would instead happen Sunday, at the Scouts' request . . . .

Soldiers carried Scouts on stretchers to the base hospital, located about three miles from the arena stage. Others were airlifted from the event while Jamboree officials called for emergency help from surrounding areas to transport Scouts during the storm, which brought high winds and lightning.
Of course, it should be pointed out that the Boy Scouts are an all-volunteer outfit.

Our venerated colleague Richard Cranium of the All Spin Zone astutely notes that the thunderheads over Bowling Green, VA, were not the only ones contributing to the Presidential no-show. A similar storm was brewing on Capitol Hill, where Mr. Bush needed all the gale-force bluster and fury he could summon to force CAFTA through the House by a margin of two votes. (Or was it one?) Josh Marshall reports:
We all know what happened the last time the White House told the House GOP leadership that it had to pass a certain bill, despite significant resistance from GOP backbenchers. Lots of offers were made that couldn't be refused. And that was when out-going Rep. Nick Smith got hit with a mix of bribes and threats on the floor of the House itself.

I've been hearing from various sources that what the GOP leadership did in the House last night on CAFTA put that earlier episode to shame. Rep. Early Pomeroy (D) of North Dakota told the local paper: "I've seen the Republican leadership break arms on close votes before, but nothing quite this ugly."
UPDATE (via Atrios): We do not mean to suggest that the President was not looking forward to attending the Jamboree; in fact, we're quite sure he was. You can see him practicing his special Boy Scout salute here.

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