November 13, 2007
The Least He Could Have Done
By Mary Lyon
"EVERY day has to be Veterans Day." - Paul Reickhoff , Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America
This is written just after Veterans Day, but if you believe that quote above, it's not a belated homage. Reickhoff is correct. In a recent interview with MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, Reickhoff properly pointed out that "we have a moral obligation to take care of the people who serve" and remember and honor their sacrifice, every day. Damned straight, we do. It's our obligation as a nation to those who put their lives on the line and in harm's way. What's so sad and twisted about our country at present is that, because many of us opposed this ill-conceived, dreadfully-"planned," and lie-based travesty in Iraq, we're still considered traitorous in some quarters - even when we agree with these Reickhoff statements and try to act accordingly.
But we take the heat while our so-called "commander-in-chief" awards himself another leisurely long weekend in Texas , AWOL again from the serious obligations that are included in his job description. Obligations any respectable commander-in-chief should NEVER miss. It's not enough to go play a few minutes of war video games during a drive-by visit with a handful of nearby veterans. It's not enough to drop in on a ceremony honoring a mere FOUR troops who he sent to their deaths in Iraq , because it also just happened to be conveniently located near his vacation home. There are more than 39-HUNDRED other deaths George W. Bush should have taken time out of his precious schedule to salute in person. It's the least he could have done. Instead, he did the very least possible, period.
What's the matter, George? Too busy? Too busy even for you, as self-styled "Commander-guy," to go, personally, to the hallowed ground of Arlington National Cemetery to pay solemn tribute to those interred and reverently guarded at the Tomb of the Unknowns? You couldn't block out even so much as a few minutes to lay the wreath at the monument? It might even served your self-serving purposes. Think of the ego strokes and all the time on the evening newscasts and the full-color photos in the news magazines and newspaper front pages across the country? You, Fearless Leader One, standing there, front and center, out in the open, honoring the nation's war dead. Pox Noise would have an almost certain multiple orgasm. Rush Limbaugh would probably even share some of his celebratory drug overdose that night with his pal Glenn Beck or any of his other on-air warmonger brethren. Just think of it! They could all mark the occasion by feasting on an honorary luau roast of Natalie Maines and Sean Penn! Yum!
Instead, George sent his understudy. Now isn't that a thoughtful gesture? None other than Mr. PNAC himself, Dick Cheney. Mr. "we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators," Mr. "insurgency is in its last throes." Wow. I'm impressed. See Dick do what most criminals traditionally tend to do: return to the scene of the crime. I suppose there was some poetic justice in that, dispatching the man who put the "vice" in Vice President into the middle of the scene of the true cost of a policy of ruthlessly aggressive preemption that he so ardently promotes. It's the least Cheney could do, too.
I guess it's the closest to a real military funeral that either of them will ever bother to venture. Neither one of these war cheerleaders (who never saw combat and pulled every possible string to avoid getting their hands bloody during Vietnam ) has attended the burial of a single Iraq troop casualty. They've had almost four thousand opportunities by now, and they've chosen to ignore each and every one.
I've heard the excuses before. Bush didn't want to be the distraction. Didn't want to make a media circus out of it or some such pathetic beg-off. Why draw the line there, though? It's never bothered either of them to disrupt an entire afternoon through a busy city in order to headline an invitation-only campaign fundraising banquet. That kind of distraction or media circus isn't a problem, of course. George's few forays into other countries lock major international cities in a living nightmare of commuter paralysis, sometimes for days on end. Just ask the Queen of England sometime how it was, a few years back, to have the American would-be king and his entourage of 800 go jackbooting through London , including her own private palace compound, her garden sanctuaries, and her communications works.
There's no excuse for the guy who gets paid to be commander-in-chief of all United States Armed Forces not to show up to preside at the Laying of the Wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Especially a guy who thinks nothing of prancing all over American Christendom proclaiming his status as war president, "leading" a nation in a time of war, insisting all other citizens and causes in every other quarter go begging so even more money we don't have in the first place can be squandered in some misbegotten Middle Eastern battlefront. He's the guy at whose behest and for whose pleasure and because of whose lies, distortions, and scheming political manipulations several thousand American troops died. He damned well ought to find a way, somehow, to shoehorn that traditional yearly visit to Arlington into his schedule. There's NO excuse whatsoever for him to skip it. That goes with the territory of being commander-in-chief. If it's a long holiday weekend, I guess any major ceremony better be near Crawford, Texas, because unless it's to run roughshod all over a family's private agony to "save" a single vegetative woman, a busy boy like Junior really can't be bothered. He's talked about his much-vaunted "hard work" on earlier occasions. Maybe this is some of it.
George and his pals, henchmen, apologists, and cover-up cadres, are swift to insinuate that the rest of us who might find his arrogant negligence somewhat repulsive don't support the troops. It's we who are at fault here. How dare our faces get in the way of his minions' brass-knuckled fists? We're the ones who sully the sacrifice of our forces by demanding that their lives not be wasted in a war that should never have been fought in the first place. We're the ones who commit that sacrilege against them by complaining about the shoddy treatment and housing they get when they come home wounded. We're the ones who are traitorous because we dared to object to cutting combat pay increases and family separation differentials. We're the ones excoriated in public as veritable enemy sympathizers for having the gall to insist our troops get enough time off with their families between deployments. We're the despicable vermin who foam with anger over the lack of proper body armor, up-armored vehicles, sufficient food, drinking water, and extra ammo. We're the supposed al Qaeda-lovers because we roar with indignation that lawless armies of sinister mercenaries and soldiers-of-fortune are paid almost ten times as much as the average soldier, and immune to the regulations of the Military Code of Conduct. We're the bad guys here. Amazing.
Mr. Bush, it is your sworn duty as purported commander-in-chief to get off your duff and show up at these deeply significant and important events. Don't even bother with an excuse. You who behave as such a privileged, entitled, more-patriotic-than-thou Dauphin are NOT entitled to that. It's actually pretty easy. You just shut up, get dressed, and have your over-inflated hoards of servants, valets, chauffeurs, handlers, security contingents, and spokespeople get you there, physically. Then, you stand in place for a few minutes in silence, acting reverent for the cameras. No muss, no fuss. Your drivers don't even have to deal with bad traffic. The roads are automatically cleared and ferociously patrolled for you. You're guaranteed the best parking space. You can even take your dog, your pretzels, and your war video games with you to play in the back seat of your limo and call your crony Contradicta on your personal private line on the way to and from the ceremony. And nobody even has to know what you're up to when you aren't out in public pretending you're so elegant and dignified.
It's the least you could have done, George, for the multitudes of America 's finest - whom you sent to your precious war, and to their doom. It is NO tribute to them that all we can expect of you, in every sense of the phrase, is "the least."
Then go DO something about it.