Monday, August 15, 2005

A President Who Really Does Care

This comes to us from, of all places, Newsweek. It is an overall fair account of how President Bush has dealt with the families of fallen warriors. Any fair minded person who reads this will arrive at the truth: that President Bush is a very sincere man who cares deeply about his fellow human beings in general, and about the families of our warriors in specific.

Any other conclusion is pure Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS) hatred.

[[ Privately, Bush has met with about 900 family members of some 270 soldiers killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. The conversations are closed to the press, and Bush does not like to talk about what goes on in these grieving sessions, though there have been hints. An hour after he met with the families at Fort Bragg in June, he gave a hard-line speech on national TV. When he mentioned the sacrifice of military families, his lips visibly quivered.

Bush routinely asks to see the families of the fallen when he visits military bases, which he does about 10 times a year. It does not appear that the White House or the military makes any effort to screen out dissenters or embittered families, though some families decline the invitation to meet with Bush. Most families encourage the president to stay the course in Iraq. "To oppose something my husband lost his life for would be a betrayal," says Inge Colton, whose husband, Shane, died in April 2004 when his Apache helicopter was shot down over Baghdad. Bush does, however, hear plenty of complaints. He has been asked about missing medals on the returned uniform of a loved one, about financial assistance for a child going to college and about how soldiers really died when the Pentagon claimed the details were classified.

At her meeting with the president at Fort Hood, Texas, last spring, Colton says she lit into Bush for "stingy" military benefits. Her complaints caught Bush "a little off guard," she recalls. "He tried to argue with me a little bit, but he promised he would have someone look into it." The next day she got a call from White House chief of staff Andrew Card, who said the White House would follow up. "My main goal was to have him look at my son, look him in the eyes and apologize," says Colton. "I wanted him to know, to really understand who he has hurt." She says Bush was "attentive, though not in a fake way," and sometimes at a loss for words. "He didn't try to overcompensate," she says.

The most telling—and moving—picture of Bush grieving with the families of the dead was provided by Rachel Ascione, who met with him last summer. Her older brother, Ron Payne, was a Marine who had been killed in Afghanistan only a few weeks before Ascione was invited to meet with Bush at MacDill Air Force Base, near Tampa, Fla.

Ascione wasn't sure she could restrain herself with the president. She was feeling "raw." "I wanted him to look me in the eye and tell me why my brother was never coming back, and I wanted him to know it was his fault that my heart was broken," she recalls. The president was coming to Florida, a key swing state, in the middle of his re-election campaign. Ascione was worried that her family would be "exploited" by a "phony effort to make good with people in order to get votes."

Ascione and her family were gathered with 18 other families in a large room on the air base. The president entered with some Secret Service agents, a military entourage and a White House photographer. "I'm here for you, and I will take as much time as you need," Bush said. He began moving from family to family. Ascione watched as mothers confronted him: "How could you let this happen? Why is my son gone?" one asked. Ascione couldn't hear his answer, but soon "she began to sob, and he began crying, too. And then he just hugged her tight, and they cried together for what seemed like forever."

Ascione's family was one of the last Bush approached. Ascione still planned to confront him, but Bush disarmed her in an almost uncanny way. Ascione is just over five feet; her late brother was 6 feet 7. "My whole life, he used to put his hand on the top of my head and just hold it there, and it drove me crazy," she says. When Bush saw that she was crying, he leaned over and put his hand on the top of her head and drew her to him. "It was just like my brother used to do," she says, beginning to cry at the memory.

Before Bush left the meeting, he paused in the middle of the room and said to the families, "I will never feel the same level of pain and loss you do. I didn't lose anyone close to me, a member of my family or someone that I love. But I want you to know that I didn't go into this lightly. This was a decision that I struggle with every day."

As he spoke, Ascione could see the grief rising through the president's body. His shoulder slumped and his face turned ashen. He began to cry and his voice choked. He paused, tried to regain his composure and looked around the room. "I am sorry, I'm so sorry," he said.

Yep… that sounds like a man who does not care at all about our warriors and their families.

Cindy Sheehan and her “camp” should be ashamed of themselves for their partisan and horribly misleading attempts to vilify this President.

Read it all, if you care to. (LINK TO STORY)


Anonymous brian said...

Thanks for posting this up, kmg. I think it's a good demonstration of something those suffering from BDS often seem to forget. Regardless of your opinions concerning his policies, it's pretty hard to honestly believe that Bush isn't a good man. He's doing this because he cares; if these meetings were a publicity stunt, we'd have heard about them long ago.

15/8/05 17:44  
Blogger kmg said...

Bingo, Brian! The fact that he INTENTIONALLY keeps them low-key and almost off-limits to media is proof enough for me.

When politicians avoid cameras, it's either because they have their hands where they shouldn't oughtta be... or... because they are genuinely trying to look out for the "quiet dignity" of the families involved.

The man is a good Christian... and a good human being.

15/8/05 18:27  

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