1/29/2005

Bush's press conference betrays his callousness

Matthew Rothschild of The American Prospect:
At his press conference Wednesday, Bush didn’t even bother to acknowledge, in his opening remarks, the 37 soldiers killed that day, the single highest fatality toll in the whole grisly war. Instead, he waited for a question about it, and then treated it as though it were principally a PR problem, which may have been the entire reason for the press conference in the first place—to deflect attention away from the bloody morass in Iraq. Said Bush: “The story today is going to be very discouraging to the American people. I understand that.” And then he went on: “We value life. And we weep and mourn when soldiers lose their life. But it is the long-term objective that is vital, and that is to spread freedom,” blah, blah, blah.
I wonder just how much weeping and mourning Bush actually is doing. And I wonder how many U.S. lives and Iraqi lives he’s willing to sacrifice in his messianic zeal, and in Cheney’s and Rumsfeld's imperial overreach.
Already, he has cost the lives of more than 1,400 U.S. soldiers.
Already, he has caused the wounds of more than 10,000 U.S. soldiers.
Already, his illegal war has killed between 15,000 and 100,000 Iraqi civilians.
But Bush seems almost serenely indifferent to this toll. And that’s because he believes, as he said at the National Prayer Service on January 21, “We have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom.”
(At that same prayer service, the Reverend Billy Graham said, “Our Father, we acknowledge your divine help in the selection of our nation’s leaders throughout our history. And we believe that in your providence, you’ve granted a second term of office to our President George W. Bush, and our Vice President Richard Cheney.”)
I guess when you believe you’re driving God’s car, and when you believe He’s giving you global positioning, and when you believe He’s right there in the back seat blurting out directions, you don’t care so much if you run people over in the process, lots of people, even your own people. You’re just doing what He wants, and He is all knowing.
It’s all for the greater good, or as Bush put it, “the long-term objective.”
This is the callousness at the heart of Bush’s war policy.

And James Wolcott (http://www.jameswolcott.com) adds:
The president takes the podium fresh with the knowledge of (Marine helicopter crash) tragedy and radiates a cheerful disposition bantering with the press about senior citizens and their faulty memories. She can't see something scarily wrong with that? She doesn't spot some sort of emotional disturbance or disconnect? Imagine if Bill Clinton had been chirpy and chipper having just received the news of 31 soldiers dying in the theater of combat--Rush Limbaugh would have devoted three hours to it, and Fox News would have dragged Dick Morris out of the all-you-can-eat buffet for his "expert analysis."
When Bush did address the soldiers' deaths, he said that we "weep and mourn" when Americans die, but as he was saying it his hand was flatly smacking downwards for emphasis, as if he were pounding the table during the business meeting, refusing to pay a lot for a muffler. The steady beat of his hand was at odds with the sentiments he was expressing--he didn't look or sound the least bit mournful or sombre. And why should he? Death doesn't seem to be a bringdown for him. There isn't the slightest evidence that he experiences the anguish LBJ did as casualties mounted in Vietnam. His record as chief executioner in Texas is of a man for whom the death of another is an administrative detail, a power exercise.
As Sister Helen Prejean wrote in The New York Review of Books: "As governor, Bush certainly did not stand apart in his routine refusal to deny clemency to death row petitioners, but what does set him apart is the sheer number of executions over which he...presided. Callous indifference to human suffering may also set Bush apart. He may be the only government official to mock a condemned person's plea for mercy [Karla Faye Tucker's], then lie about it afterward, claiming humane feelings he never felt. On the contrary, it seems that Bush is comfortable with using violent solutions to solve troublesome social and political realities."
Comfortable, hell, he's downright enthusiastic about it. He's so cocky now that he can't even fake a semblance of sorrow after hearing news that would have made most presidents turn ashen.

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