Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Why No Tea and Sympathy?

...and now it's time to be a little serious again...
Op-Ed Columnist
Why No Tea and Sympathy?

By MAUREEN DOWD - New York Times
Published: August 10, 2005

W. can't get no satisfaction on Iraq.
There's an angry mother of a dead soldier camping outside his Crawford ranch, demanding to see a president who prefers his sympathy to be carefully choreographed.

A new CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll shows that a majority of Americans now think that going to war was a mistake and that the war has made the U.S. more vulnerable to terrorism. So fighting them there means it's more likely we'll have to fight them here?
Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged yesterday that sophisticated bombs were streaming over the border from Iran to Iraq.
And the Rolling Stones have taken a rare break from sex odes to record an antiwar song called "Sweet Neo Con," chiding Condi Rice and Mr. Bush. "You call yourself a Christian; I call you a hypocrite," Mick Jagger sings.

The N.F.L. put out a press release on Monday announcing that it's teaming up with the Stones and ABC to promote "Monday Night Football." The flag-waving N.F.L. could still back out if there's pressure, but the mood seems to have shifted since Madonna chickened out of showing an antiwar music video in 2003. The White House used to be able to tamp down criticism by saying it hurt our troops, but more people are asking the White House to explain how it plans to stop our troops from getting hurt.

Cindy Sheehan, a 48-year-old Californian with a knack for P.R., says she will camp out in the dusty heat near the ranch until she gets to tell Mr. Bush face to face that he must pull all U.S. troops out of Iraq. Her son, Casey, a 24-year-old Army specialist, was killed in a Sadr City ambush last year.

The president met with her family two months after Casey's death. Capturing W.'s awkwardness in traversing the line between somber and joking, and his love of generic labels, Ms. Sheehan said that W. had referred to her as "Mom" throughout the meeting, and given her the sense that he did not know who her son was.

The Bush team tried to discredit "Mom" by pointing reporters to an old article in which she sounded kinder to W. If only her husband were an undercover C.I.A. operative, the Bushies could out him. But even if they send out a squad of Swift Boat Moms for Truth, there will be a countering Falluja Moms for Truth.

It's amazing that the White House does not have the elementary shrewdness to have Mr. Bush simply walk down the driveway and hear the woman out, or invite her in for a cup of tea. But W., who has spent nearly 20 percent of his presidency at his ranch, is burrowed into his five-week vacation and two-hour daily workouts. He may be in great shape, but Iraq sure isn't.

It's hard to think of another president who lived in such meta-insulation. His rigidly controlled environment allows no chance encounters with anyone who disagrees. He never has to defend himself to anyone, and that is cognitively injurious. He's a populist who never meets people - an ordinary guy who clears brush, and brush is the only thing he talks to. Mr. Bush hails Texas as a place where he can return to his roots. But is he mixing it up there with anyone besides Vulcans, Pioneers and Rangers?

W.'s idea of consolation was to dispatch Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser, to talk to Ms. Sheehan, underscoring the inhumane humanitarianism of his foreign policy. Mr. Hadley is just a suit, one of the hard-line Unsweet Neo Cons who helped hype America into this war.

It's getting harder for the president to hide from the human consequences of his actions and to control human sentiment about the war by pulling a curtain over the 1,835 troops killed in Iraq; the more than 13,000 wounded, many shorn of limbs; and the number of slain Iraqi civilians - perhaps 25,000, or perhaps double or triple that. More people with impeccable credentials are coming forward to serve as a countervailing moral authority to challenge Mr. Bush.

Paul Hackett, a Marine major who served in Iraq and criticized the president on his conduct of the war, narrowly lost last week when he ran for Congress as a Democrat in a Republican stronghold in Cincinnati. Newt Gingrich warned that the race should "serve as a wake-up call to Republicans" about 2006.

Selectively humane, Mr. Bush justified his Iraq war by stressing the 9/11 losses. He emphasized the humanity of the Iraqis who desire freedom when his W.M.D. rationale vaporized.

But his humanitarianism will remain inhumane as long as he fails to understand that the moral authority of parents who bury children killed in Iraq is absolute.


Blogger willowtree said...

You know what I am afraid of? You see how people are starting to give a low bu audible mumur of dissatisfaction with this damn war? "Something BIG" will happen to the soldiers out there, and then they'll have that rah, rah, rah- yay lets kill people- support again.
Remember earlier sometime this year when the murmur first began? That is when we started seeing hostages beheaded on TV, and soldiers blindfolded with guns to their heads.

The government knows how to manipulate the public through the media.

How much was that happening before? Putting it on TV stirs up reaction, and still the white house wont tell us what people being beheaded has to do with the price of apples in Baghdad.

I hate to sound so cold and insensitive because Im not- the hostages that are dying were also someone's loved ones, and the fact of the matter is that if the US wasnt in Iraq, they probably wouldnt have been over there either.

Im just terrified of what that "something big" is- exactly WHO will be behind it, and how many young people will die for ratings.
TV and presidential.

4:13 PM  
Blogger Frank said...

Another aspect of the media manipulation, in addition to the possibility that "something big" -"all of the sudden" occurs, which rallies the public, exactly when it's needed, is that there is also a lot going on that we are not seeing or hearing about; in other words, a good deal of censorship. In the Middle East, they have seen images of many atrocities,including outrageous video clips and photos concerning the Abu Ghraib prison situation that we have been barred from seeing here. These images and stories are highly inflammatory. Randi Rhodes on Air America Radio is talking a lot about this lately.
A lot of info is leaking out though in America, through talk radio and the blogosphere, which helps some. The things being seen and heard in the Middle East on their news, have and will continue to cause incredible anger, which I fear that someday we might be the recipents of. Those things being seen are truly awful, and apparently true, and would make anyone who becomes aware of them incredibly angry.

9:04 PM  

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