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Sunday, August 14, 2005

Breaking: Bush to Go On with His Life 

It's important. It's hard work:
President Bush, noting that lots of people want to talk to the president and "it's also important for me to go on with my life," on Saturday defended his decision not to meet with the grieving mom of a soldier killed in Iraq . . . .

"[W]hether it be here or in Washington or anywhere else, there's somebody who has got something to say to the president, that's part of the job," Bush said on the ranch. "And I think it's important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say."

"But," he added, "I think it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life."

The comments came prior to a bike ride on the ranch with journalists and aides. It also came as the crowd of protesters grew in support of Sheehan, the California mother who came here Aug. 6 demanding to talk to Bush about the death of her son Casey. Sheehan arrived earlier in the week with about a half dozen supporters. As of yesterday (Saturday) there were about 300 anti-war protesters and approximately 100 people supporting the Bush Administration. In addition to the two-hour bike ride, Bush's Saturday schedule included an evening Little League Baseball playoff game, a lunch meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a nap, some fishing and some reading. "I think the people want the president to be in a position to make good, crisp decisions and to stay healthy," he said when asked about bike riding while a grieving mom wanted to speak with him. "And part of my being is to be outside exercising."

On Friday, Bush's motorcade drove by the protest site en route to a Republican fund-raising event at a nearby ranch.
(Thanks to Zemblan patriot K.Z. for the link.)

UPDATE: Okay, okay -- Digby got there first.

UPDATE II: Damn, suh! Everybody got there first. Allow us to distract you from the sad spectacle of our patent superfluousness by rerouting your attention to a new dispatch from Tom Engelhardt, who suggests that Cindy Sheehan's Crawford vigil may represent a tipping point for the Iraq War, and possibly for the Bush administration itself:
As our President likes to speak about "our mission" in Iraq and "our mission of defeating terrorists" in the world, so Cindy Sheehan has found herself on a mission. Our President speaks resolutely of "staying the course" in Iraq. That's exactly what Cindy Sheehan is planning to do in Crawford (and undoubtedly beyond). George prides himself on not flinching, giving ground, or ever saying he's sorry. But he also had remarkably good luck until he ran into Cindy. Whether in his presidential runs, in Congress, or elsewhere, he really hasn't come up against an opponent who was ready to dig in and duke it out blow for blow, an opponent ready never to flinch, never to apologize, never to mince words, never to take prisoners. Now he's got one -- and like so many personal demons, she's been called up from the Id of his own war: A mother of one of the dead who demands an explanation, an answer, when no answer he gives will ever conceivably do; a woman who, like his neocon companions, has no hesitation about going for the jugular. And, amazingly, she's already made the man flinch twice.

No matter how the media surrounds her or tries to tame her, the fact is she's torn up the oppositional rule book. She's a woman made in the mold of Iraq War vet Paul Hackett, who ran in a hopelessly Republican congressional district recently. He didn't hesitate to call the President a "chicken hawk" or a "son of a bitch," and to the surprise of all won 48% of the vote doing so, leading
Newt Gingrich to say that the race "should serve as a wake-up call to Republicans" for the 2006 elections.

There's a lesson in this. Americans are not, generally speaking, your basic turn-the-other-cheek sorts of folks. They like to know that the people they vote for or support will, at the very least, stand there and whack back, if whacked at. Whatever she may have been before, Cindy Sheehan was beaten into just that shape on the anvil of her son's death. ("
I was stunned and dismayed when the United States invaded Iraq. I didn't agree with it. I didn't think it was right, but I never protested until after Casey was killed.") Some of her testimony at the Conyers hearings on the Downing Street Memo catches this spirit and it's well worth quoting:
"There are a few people around the US and a couple of my fellow witnesses who were a little justifiably worried that in my anger and anguish over Casey's premeditated death, I would use some swear words, as I have been known to do on occasion when speaking about the subject. Mr. Conyers, out of my deep respect for you, the other representatives here, my fellow witnesses, and viewers of these historic proceedings, I was able to make it through an entire testimony without using any profanity. However, if anyone deserves to be angry and use profanity, it is I. What happened to Casey and humanity because of the apparent dearth of honesty in our country's leadership is so profane that it defies even my vocabulary skills. We as Americans should be offended more by the profanity of the actions of this administration than by swear words. We have all heard the old adage that actions speak louder than words and for the sake of Casey and our other precious children, please hold someone accountable for their actions and their words of deception."
Last week, the Pentagon relieved a four-star general of his command allegedly because he had an affair, while separated from his wife, with a woman not in the military or the government; and yet not a single top official or high-ranking officer (except for scapegoat Brig. Gen. Janice Karpinski) has suffered for American acts at Abu Ghraib, or murder and torture throughout our imperium, or for torture and abuse at our prison in Guantanamo, or for any of the disasters of Iraq. In such a context, the words "please hold someone accountable" by the mother of a boy killed in Iraq, a woman on a mission who doesn't plan to back down or leave off any time soon -- well, that truly constitutes going directly for the President's political throat. It's mano a mano time, and while I would never underestimate what this administration might do, I wouldn't underestimate the fierce power of an angry mother either. The Bush administration is in trouble in Iraq, in Washington, and in Crawford.
UPDATE III: Mr. Bush traveled to the Little League game, which took place twenty miles from his ranch, by helicopter.

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