Does this sound like a guy who doesn’t care?
See if it does to you:
The grieving room was arranged like a doctor’s office. The families and loved ones of 33 soldiers killed in Iraq or Afghanistan were summoned to a large waiting area at Fort Bragg, N.C. For three hours, they were rotated through five private rooms, where they met with President George W. Bush, accompanied by two Secret Service men and a photographer. Because the walls were thin, the families awaiting their turn could hear the crying inside.
President Bush was wearing "a huge smile," but his eyes were red and he looked drained by the time he got to the last widow, Crystal Owen, a third-grade schoolteacher who had lost her husband in Iraq. "Tell me about Mike," he said immediately. "I don’t want my husband’s death to be in vain," she told him. The president apologized repeatedly for her husband’s death. When Owen began to cry, Bush grabbed her hands. "Don’t worry, don’t worry," he said, though his choking voice suggested that he had worries of his own. The president and the widow hugged. "It felt like he could have been my dad," Owen recalled to NEWSWEEK. "It was like we were old friends. It almost makes me sad. In a way, I wish he weren’t the president, just so I could talk to him all the time."
Bush likes to play the resolute War Leader, and he has never been known for admitting mistakes or regret. But that does not mean that he is free of doubt. For the past three years, Bush has been living in two worlds—unwavering and confident in public, but sometimes stricken in private. Bush’s meetings with widows like Crystal Owen offer a rare look inside that inner, private world.
Last week, at his ranch in Texas, he took his usual line on Iraq, telling reporters that the United States would not pull out its troops until Iraq was able to defend itself. While he said he "sympathized" with Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, he refused to visit her peace vigil, set up in a tent in a drainage ditch outside the ranch, and sent two of his aides to talk to her instead.
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.
Make sure to read the whole thing. I know this won’t put a stop to rantings of the Sheehan hangers-on, but hopefully for any rational thinking person who might have believed even for a second that the President doesn’t care and isn’t moved by the sacrifices made in this war, it will make them see him in a different light than the "Camp Casey" crowd is trying to paint him in right now. I remember also the time when the President made his speech at the RNC about the troops and their families and how he marvelled at how, even through their grief at their losses, that they would offer to pray for him. His eyes misted over. This is a man who cares, and in the midst of all this hoopla over Cindy Sheehan, never forget that.
Wink: Brian at Iowa Voice.
Michelle Malkin has a blogger reaction roundup.
More at Betsy Newmark’s.
Related: Michael King has a picture of Cindy Sheehan in the middle of a speech, with Michael Moore sitting in the background. Double ugh.
Late morning update: WOW – Arthur Chrenkoff has a must read on military families who don’t seem to agree with Cindy Sheehan and/or don’t share Sheehan’s perspective on the issue. Make sure to check it out