Sunday, August 14, 2005

Now Watch This Drive!

Worst. Excuse. Ever.
CRAWFORD, Texas - 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.

Bush said he is aware of the anti-war sentiments of Cindy Sheehan and others who have joined her protest near the Bush ranch.

"But whether 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." ... "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."

Not many people know this, but Lincoln could only deliver the Gettysburg Address after spending several hours in the White House weightroom blasting his quads. And do you know why Franklin Roosevelt wasn't able to lead us to victory in World War II? Turns out he was a big ol' cripple. What nerve!

More and more, Bush reminds me of Brigidier General Jack D. Ripper from Dr. Strangelove. You know, the batshit crazy base commander who was so obsessed with his physical fitness (and the Soviet plot to pollute our precious bodily fluids) that he decided to pre-emptively launch World War III? Now that I think about it, Bush even looks like him:

At this rate, I wouldn't be surprised if Bush announced we needed to invade Iran next because they were sitting on a strategic stockpile of New Balance running shoes.


Tokyo Joe said...

I have to admit that I do have some mixed feelings about all of this. Sure my heart goes out to the woman in her time of grief and I don't want to come off as a complete heartless bastard, but why should Bush meet with her (again)? It's pretty clear what she is going to say to him and her message has already been heard a number of times in many diferent outlets. I'm sure at least one of the President's people has passed on the gist of her problems, so really, why should he meet with her? She meet him once and she had her chance to tear him a new a-hole. I think it would be great if every politician had an open door policy so that everyone could come in and chew them out everytime they had a beef with their decisions, but they don't. The fact that he won't meet her actually brings more attention to her cause and will probably ultimately cause more good (the irony in that is pretty thick I think). When it really comes down to it, politicians are only really accoutable to the people on election day.

Otto Man said...

I don't think he's obligated to meet with her. I just think he's a moron not to do so. He could easily have brought her in, said her son had made a sacrifice for freedom, etc., and sent her on her way. It seems like basic political smarts.

Instead, he's backed himself into this corner where he's hiding from a grieving mother and, better yet, his media allies are out there calling her a disingenuous whore. And then he comes out and says he has other things to do -- right before a bike ride with the press.

The tin ear of this group is stunning.

Studiodave said...

I think this is an event which more symbolic than literal. The administration has consistently not wanted to discuss the past and the decisions it made - by itself.

So, they stand alone, but have the gall to not acknowledge what actually occurred - a mistake. One that has cost close to 2,000 lives, and over $87 billion in annual budget dollars - borrowed from the Chinese.

Bush ignoring that poor woman makes him appear to be hiding from the past and retreating from the work to make possible plans for the future.

If they don't deal with this woman asap, every unemployed hippie will be camped in Crawford in 2 weeks - then this will no longer be symbolic.

Otto Man said...

I think you're right about the symbolism -- Bush has been hiding from anyone who disagrees with him or demands accountability. Sheehan is both.

Yossarian said...

He also refused to meet with Senator (and Veteran) Max Cleland last year.

TJoe - a politican is accountable to his/her constituants every moment that they are in office. It is only on election day that the constituatnts choose to keep their elected official based on his/her actions while in office.

Tokyo Joe said...

I think this was a lose-lose for the President. Obviously ducking the woman hasn't helped, but I'm not sure meeting her would have helped either. At his point in her grief, nothing he would have said would help her and she would just come out of the meeting saying that he doesn't really care (which is what she said about her first meeting with the President after she saidn some nice things about him). so since there is no good outcome for the president, I can't blame him too much for getting on with his life.

And while we are close to the topic, let me add how much I dislike the term "sending out sons and doughters to fight wars". Last time I checked it was an all volunteer force made up of adults. We don't send children, we send adults who have made a decision to serve. To say otherwise belittles the people and the choices they make.

Otto Man said...

Joe, the "nice things" Sheehan said about Bush after the first meeting are largely the result of cut-and-paste misrepresentations from the right's pundits. Media Matters has the run down.

But you have a point about the "sons and daughters" thing. True, most of the troops are college-aged, but we treat them as adults too. And anyway, the S&D trope only allows for more Jessica Lynch-style emotional drama to weigh in on what should be more rational decision-making processes.

Mrs_Thrillhous said...

She already got her obligatory (and unproductive and unsatisfying) group meeting. Maybe she should be campaigning for him to attend a funeral.

He shouldn't be making such callous statements. Did he pick up the "don't say this" list by accident? Also, how can he move on with his life when the war is still going on?

It doesn't look good that he's having Lance Armstrong over for a ride. Sheesh.

Malibu Stacy said...

One other comment to add here ... while I admit that it is a volunteer force of grown adults who make the "decision" to serve, let's not forget that many of these adults see military service as the only way to get an education.

Apparently, highlighted the new marketing campaigns for the military to try and get their #s up. They include:

- Appeal to patriotism and national service to get parents to steer their kids to the Army
- Increase the recruiting pool and offer bigger signup bonuses
- Activate more people from the Individual Ready Reserve
- Increase the age for recruiting from 35 to 39
- Change particular personnel policies on having more than one sibling in a combat zone at the same time.

Otto Man said...

Well said, Stacy. They've actually gone further than that -- lowering intelligence requirements, faking drug tests to get users in as recruits, etc. etc.

The scene from "Fahrenheit 9/11" where Moore followed around the Army recruiters was stunning in its revelations of the predatory techniques used to get people into the service, but I can't imagine what he'd hear if he could tag along today.

But yeah, the saddest thing is that we have an Army where the rank-and-file is there not because they believe in the cause, but because it was their only means of bettering themselves.

For me, the saddest thing about the whole Jessica Lynch story was the simple fact that she was only in the Army because she'd wanted to become a kindergarten teacher, and from rural West Virginia, the road to the classroom ran through Fallujah.

Yossarian said...

Well I for one am glad that the president is getting on with his life and not getting all caught up in this gloom and doom war talk. The last thing we need is a moopy commander in chief. I would hate for him to get a bad case of "the Mondays". And I glad that he didn't speak to that woman - it sounded like a tough choice and we wouldn't want our leaders making tough choices. Much better to avoid the situation in it's entirety.

(if you can't tell I am being sarcastic, I would love to hear all about the last Young Republican's meeting that you attended)

Otto Man said...

I think it's pretty clear where Bush gets this
attitude from:

"Why should we hear about body bags and deaths," Barbara Bush said on ABC's "Good Morning America" on March 18, 2003. "Oh, I mean, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"

Tokyo Joe said...

Ok, maybe the term "get on with his life" was a bit dismssive, but should the President of the United States take a meeting with everyone who feels they were wronged? The messagge has already been sent. What possible good could come from having a grief stricken woman tell Bush that he was wrong? Sorry Yossarian, but i don't see the purpose. Even if he is on vacation (one that is much too long I agree), but what's the point? Go ahead and try to get a meeting with a govenor or senator and tell them ahead of time that youu plan on blaming them for whatever screw up they caused (and there are plenty of good governmental screw ups to choose from). I'd be very surprised if they'd even take a phone call let alone a meeting.

As for our politicians being accountable, that's a nice dream you got, but it doesn't hold water. We live in a democratic republic where our choosen representatives make their choices for us. As such, they are free to do pretty much whatever they think is best and there's not much we can do about it. There is only one day that they have to listen and that's election day. the sad part is most people don't even bother showing up for the feedback with their "employee".

Tokyo Joe said...

Otto Man, thanks for the link that clears up the whole flip-flop issue. however, even if she didn't change her story, she did meet the President once already and she had her chance to say what she wanted to say. But she didn't. The French have a term for it called "L'esprit de l'escalier" which is when you think of a comeback, but too late. This just might be another case of that.

Otto Man said...

Well, a president obviously can't meet with everyone, but a good president is smart enough to meet with people who represent key constituencies, especially when they have a greivance. JFK didn't have to meet with all blacks who hated segregation, for instance, but he was smart enough to meet with King, Young, Lewis and others. Same with Bush. He doesn't have to listen to all grieving mothers, but it might be smart politics and smart policy to meet with one for more than a photo op.

It's symbolic of a larger problem with the administration for me -- their refusal to listen to anyone who differs with what they already believe. It's a circle of yes men, and that's dangerous.

Otto Man said...

Joe, I raised an eyebrow over the fact that she met with Bush in June 2004, but Sheehan has claimed that a lot of information about the war came out between now and then -- the 9-11 report, the Senate intelligence report, the Darfur report proving there never were WMDs, and the Downing Street Memos. All of that, Sheehan says, made her convinced for the first time that it had all been a lie.

Tokyo Joe said...

Otto man,

I think the key phrase in your stament is "a good president is smart enough..". 'Nuff said.

However, I will take exception to Yossarian implying that I go to the young republicans meetings. I am neither young nor a republican. But just because I dare think a bit different than the "authorized groupthink" i'm considered unclean. I guess the republicans don't have a lock on the "us or them" mind set.

Thrillhous said...

Happy Monday to all! Yesterday the wife wanted to talk to me about who broke our crystal pitcher, but I was like, "I've got to get on with my life. Now let me ride my bike!" I think she took it pretty well.

I hear you TokyoJoe, about the sheer practicality of the president meeting with Sheehan. Meet with one nut (not that she's a nut, but from the prez's point of view she may be) and next thing you know there will be a line of nuts all the way to Oklahoma wanting to tell you that there's too many states, their water tastes funny, there aren't enough old people on the cover of Bride magazine, etc.

I also agree with you that this lady had her golden opportunity to talk to him and completely blew it. And the fact that ours is an all-volunteer military is not something you can ignore. Even though most folks who join are doing so to get leg up in life, they've still got to honor the contract they signed -- even the small print that says the military can pretty much turn them into war slaves for the rest of their lives.

The right-wing noise machine is mostly focusing on these basic, surface-level issues. She flip flops. She had her chance. She loves publicity. Her son joined the military willingly. Because of these things, she has no right to talk to the prez.

However, what StudioDave said about the symbolism of the event really hit home for me. It's not about one soldier who died, it's about the war in general. And that's what the prez, his admin, and the right-wing noise machine have refused for years and continue to refuse to deal with (yeah, I'm really breaking some news to you guys today, eh?).

When folks sign up for the military, they know they might end up in a war. However, they trust that any war they're in will have both a strategic and moral purpose. They trust that those who direct the war will do everything possible to keep them safe.

At least half the country has serious questions about both the strategic and moral purposes of the war, and lordy do they question how it's been conducted. But we haven't gotten any answers. It's all "clap louder!" and "support, don't question!"

Sheehan's become a touchstone for the war issue in general; the particulars of her case aren't necessarily that important, at least to the general discussion about the war. Like Otto said, Bush had the opportunity to go beyond the bare minimum required of him and actually address the questions she raises, because hers are the same questions so many of us have.

alex supertramp said...

all of this simply magnifies one of Bush's administration weaker points (granted that is a long and slightly sickening list, but) - the isolation they employ for decision making (I think they do this - I was thinking it was just a thrown dart, but statistically they would have made better choices that way so it can't be) and disregard for outside input (or for "facts"). Way back when Bush mentioned that he never read the papers or listened to editorial commentary, simply relying on his yes-men, oh I mean cabinet members to inform him - fucking bonehead. No, it would not be possible to meet with every single grievance (otto made a great point about selective, high profile meetings however)and taking every criticism to heart would be disastrous, but complete disregard of outside concerns (and oh yeah, factual information and
widespread opinion) is just plain idiotic.

and joe - easy there -- I don't think yos was directing anything at you, but making a little joke about the sarcasm aspect of the post. You offer a different, and much needed (and appreciated) perspective here -sure you're gonna take a few hits because it is fun to beat up and degrade minorities, it's our heritage so it must be rich and righteous - but I think everyone here is actually pretty damn open-minded and enjoys the debate and acknowledges the role that debate plays in making informed choices and decisions, and yeah, mildly amusing commentary.

Otto Man said...

Yeah, what Alex said. Joe, I think Yos was joking that he sounded like a Young Republican, though from the phrasing I can see how you might have misunderstood that. Anyway, there's no groupthink here. I love a good debate, since it keeps me on my toes.

alex supertramp said...

otto -- this whole time I thought you were all about being on your knees?

Otto Man said...

Knees, toes... I can work a trick from a million angles.

(Sorry, I saw the excellent Hustle & Flow this weekend and it's hard getting out of the 'ho mindset.)

Studiodave said...

I understand regular army folks serving overseas - "they bought their tickets" therefore "they get what they get" concept. Its the state National Guard folks who should be, I don't know, focused on guarding the nation - that I find so sad.

This homo I knew in the military once said that most national guardsmen really have no place in live combat (training, age, domestic committments, etc).

Of course, he would normally have been thrown out of the military - but apparently he's no longer "gay enough" under the new recruitment policy.

Be nice.

Otto Man said...

Hey, I saw "Rambo" and those National Guardsmen kicked his hippie ass.