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imperialism & war

Choosing Fund Raisers Over Funerals

Perhaps the solution to Bush's quandary is to coordinate his schedule so he can go to cities where he can attend both fund-raisers and funerals.
Who can blame poor President Bush? Look at his terrible dilemma.

There are those who say the chief executive should have come out of his Texas ranch house and articulated and assuaged the sorrow and outrage and anxiety the nation was feeling on Sunday after the deadliest day in Iraq in seven months. An attack on a Chinook helicopter killed 16 US soldiers, 14 men and two women, and wounded 20.

There are those who say Bush should have emulated Rudi Diuliani's empathetic leadership after 9/11, or Dad's in the first Gulf War, and attended some of the funerals of the 379 Americans killed in Iraq. Or one. Maybe the one for Spec. Darryl Dent, the 21-year-old National Guard officer from Washington, who died outside Baghdad in late August when a bomb struck his truck while he was delivering mail to troops. His funeral was at a Baptist church three miles from the White House.

But let's look at it from the president's point of view: If he grieves more publicly or concretely, if he addresses every instance of bad news, like the hideous spector of Iraqis celebrating the downing of the Chinook, he will simply remind people of what's going on in Iraq.

So it's understandable why, going into his re-election campaign, Bush wouldn't want to underscore that young Americans keep getting whacked over there, and we don't know who is doing it or how to stop it. The White House is cleverly trying to distance Bush from the messy problem of flesh-and-blood soldiers with real names dying nearly every day, while linking him to the heroic task of fighting global terror.

It's better to keep it vague, to talk about the "important cause" and the "brave defenders" of liberty.

If he gets more explicit, or allows the flag-draped coffins of fallen heroes to be photographed coming home, it will just remind people that the administration said this would be easy, and it's teeth-grindingly hard. And that the administration vowed to get Osama and Saddam and WMD, and hasn't. And that the Bush team that hyped the presence of al-Qaida in Iraq has now created an al-Qaida presence in Iraq. And that there was no plan for the occupation or for finacing one, no plan for rotating or supporting troops stretched too thin to guard ammunition caches or police a fractious society, and no decent plan for getting out.

As the White House points out, Bush cannot fairly pick and choose which memorial services to go to, or which deaths to speak of.

"If a helicopter were hit an hour later, after he came out and spoke, should he come out again?" Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director, told The New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller, explaning Bush's silence after the Chinook crash. The public, he added, "wants the commander in chief to have proper perspective and keep his eye on the big picture and ball."

The ball for fall is fund raising. Bush has been going full throttle since summer, spending several days a week flying around the country, hitting up rich Republicans for $2,000 checks. He has raised $90 million so far out of the $175 million he plans to spend on a primary campaign in which he has no opponent.

At fund-raisers, Bush prefers to talk about the uptick in the economy, not the downtick in Iraq. On Monday, arriving for a fund-raiser in Birmingham, he was upbeat, not somber. Raising $1.8 million at lunch, he stuck to the line that "we are aggressively striking the terrorists in Iraq, defeating them there so we will not have to face them in our own country." He didn't want to depress the donors by mentioning the big new story, the loss of 16 US soldiers, or sour the mood by conceding the obvious, that the swelling horde of terrorists fighting us there will not prevent terrorists from coming after us here. Maybe we should all be like President Bush and not read the papers, so we don't get worn down either.

Perhaps the solution to Bush's quandary is to coordinate his schedule so he can go to cities where he can attend both fund-raisers and funerals.

The law of averages suggests it shouldn't be hard.

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Maureen Dowd
 liberties@nytimes.com
Bush at Funerals? 08.Nov.2003 14:27

Catalina Eddie

Geez, if he showed up at the funeral of someone I cared about, who had died to make him richer, I'd feel honor bound to go for his throat. That wouldn't hurt him, as he is entirely insulated from the consequences for what he does. Like the SS would stop it all, but it really wouldn't make good press.

Vancouver, USA

PROBABLY DON'T REMEMBER... 08.Nov.2003 18:58

but, I do!

Surely one of the main reasons George W. "the squatter in Gore's House" Bush is not into funerals has as much to do with what happened to his damned old daddy, as much as his indifference. Back during Gulf War I in 1991, some of the soldier's killed in that war were brought back to Dover AFB and there was live tv coverage of the ceremony. George Bush, the Elder, gave a rather maudlin performance (he was NOT as good as Ronald Reagan at this sort of stuff!) and as the ceremony was over, he and his entourage left. While CNN was continuing to film the coffins, they split the pic to half screen and showed Bush leaving to get to his limo. Lo and behold, this character that moments before fumbled to "act" serious, was now joking by doing his infamous "duck walk" as he'd had a severely strained neck, and had so bitterly complained to the press corps, that they were razzing him about it, that he proceeded to mock the whole thing by doing this bizarre duck walk. Naturally, he, nor his handlers, had a clue that he was being shown live all across the CNN airwaves. Talk about a disconnect! This was one of America's most shameful moments, and as result, when Ross Perot ran against him the following year, he often referred to George the Elder as "that Daffy Duck character" and the Democrats used the embarassing film footage in their various ads in 1992 to help defeat George Bush. Well now, given that gross stupidity tends to run in families, I'm not surprised that Bush's handler's aren't wanting to put him out on funeral detail, as no telling what he'll pull. Would it be worst than his damned old daddy's stunt? So, I guess they aren't taking any chances...willing to take a small dive in the polls, rather than major dive if he pulled a SNAFU. (which, as we all know...is quite possible with this poor boy...double-digit boy with double-digit IQ!)