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Bush Dishonors War Dead By Using Their Families

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George W. Bush gave another White House speech on Monday in which he again misled the American people on the Iraq war and, at the same time, moved to new depths in his penchant for using the troops and their families as cheap props to eke out another sliver of faith in his failed policies. I'm sure White House staffers don't tell these families how their anguish is to be used and Bush didn't waste much time yesterday before harnessing that grief to bolster his disastrous non-strategy in Iraq. The family of Michael Carlson, who died in Iraq two years ago, was present and Bush lowered the ethical bar still more by using the Carlson family -- and even a poem about being a soldier that Michael had written in high school -- to goad Congressional Democrats into accepting his ridiculous stay-the-course policy. Here's Bush:
"It's important as people debate this issue to think about somebody like Merrilee Carlson, with us today. She's a Gold Star Mom. Two years ago, Merrilee's son, Michael, gave his life in Iraq when his platoon was on a night mission to take out two terrorist bomb-making factories. As they approached their target, they passed over a culvert that gave way, and their Bradley fighting vehicle plunged into the water and Michael and four others in the vehicle died that day. "We owe it to the Carlson family, we owe it to other Gold Star families here today, to complete the mission for which their loved ones gave their lives. We owe it to a future generation of Americans to help secure peace. We owe it to the American people to make this nation safer. The most solemn obligation of the government and Washington is to provide security for the American people and to protect them from harm."
He then went on to use that as a platform from which to bash Democrats for having the temerity to listen to the majority of the American people and call for our troops to be withdrawn from the Iraqi civil war. How disgusting is that? At the same time, how sadly unsurprising is it? The Bush administration lied our country into a war and has kept us there longer than we were involved in World War II -- and things are getting worse there every day. The American people have turned against this war and want out, while our Chickenhawk-in-Chief uses the families of dead troops to pressure all of us to follow his miserable failure with more loss and more deaths. Oh, and in case you're wondering, of course Bush used the occasion to once again imply that what's going on in Iraq had something to do with 9/11. "The families gathered here understand that we are a nation at war. Like me, they wish we weren't at war -- but we are. They know that the enemies who attacked us on September the 11th, 2001 want to bring further destruction to our country," said Bush. "They know that the only way to stop them is to stay on the offense, to fight the extremists and radicals where they live, so we don't have to face them where we live." I guess when you've got a lie that a tiny percentage of the people still believe, you stick with it. Democrats were quick to respond to Bush's repulsive bit of political theater. "Today, in the fifth year of this civil war, U.S. forces are suffering losses at a rate not seen since the bloody battle of Fallujah over two years ago and there is no end in sight. Yet the President and the Vice President continue to desperately cling to their failed escalation strategy and attack those who disagree with them," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) at a press conference on the war with Lt. General Robert G. Gard, Jr. (USA, Ret.) and Brig. General John H. Johns (USA, Ret.). "The American people, a bipartisan majority of Congress and senior military leaders, including these two distinguished officers standing next to me, have all called for a change of course in Iraq. But President Bush and Vice President Cheney refuse to listen. They are isolated in their thinking and are failing our troops and our country." And Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), as he so often has, called on the president to truly support the troops by bringing them home to their families alive. "Our military is over-stretched and our national security has been weakened," said Kennedy. "It is time the President listened to the Iraq Study Group, the Congress, and the American people, and worked with us to bring our troops home to the hero's welcome they have earned." It's also time for the White House to quit dishonoring our war dead by using their families as pawns to force the death toll even higher and creating more Gold Star Moms. You can read more from Bob at BobGeiger.com.
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Bob Geiger is a writer, activist and Democratic operative in Westchester County, NY.
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