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“a decision that I struggle with every day”

Posted by Richard on August 17, 2005

The Aug. 22 issue of Newsweek has an article you simply must read. ‘I’m So Sorry’ by Holly Bailey and Evan Thomas is a behind-the-scenes look at President Bush’s meetings with grieving military families, and it deserves some kind of award. The story of these meetings is told simply, directly, and mainly through the eyes of family members. I found it moving, even gut-wrenching:

… "I’m here for you, and I will take as much time as you need," Bush said. He began moving from family to family. Ascione watched as mothers confronted him: "How could you let this happen? Why is my son gone?" one asked. Ascione couldn’t hear his answer, but soon "she began to sob, and he began crying, too. And then he just hugged her tight, and they cried together for what seemed like forever."

Before Bush left the meeting, he paused in the middle of the room and said to the families, "I will never feel the same level of pain and loss you do. I didn’t lose anyone close to me, a member of my family or someone that I love. But I want you to know that I didn’t go into this lightly. This was a decision that I struggle with every day."

As he spoke, Ascione could see the grief rising through the president’s body. His shoulder slumped and his face turned ashen. He began to cry and his voice choked. He paused, tried to regain his composure and looked around the room. "I am sorry, I’m so sorry," he said.

I don’t care if you’re Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Socialist, or apolitical — read this article. If your eyes filled with tears — welcome to the club. If you still have a sneer on your lips and you’re muttering something about "ChimpyBushHitlerHalliburton" — well, enjoy your Kool-Aid.

Bush does this at every opportunity — about ten times a year, each and every time he visits a military base. According to the article, these meetings leave him red-eyed and drained and Laura devastated.

It would be so easy to say, upon occasion, "Let’s skip the meetings this time, Bill, the schedule’s a little tight." No one would question or challenge him. His wife and members of his staff would no doubt be relieved.

But he never does.

Forget his politics or policies for the moment — this is a decent and honorable human being. This is "ein Mensch."

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3 Responses to ““a decision that I struggle with every day””

  1. maybeso said

    Good story. Yes, Bush is good with the one-on-one, but It still begs the question of why we are in Iraq. He keeps saying it is to protect the U.S.. My question is how does this protect us? I understand what he says – very well. I just find his logic of “stay the course” and “must not dishonor those soldiers who gave their lives” illogical. Stay the course has not been defined, and “those who gave their lives for our freedom” is empty and hollow when when we should not have been there in the first place. Try as he might, Bush cannot tie 9/11 to Iraq – Al Qaida started their operations in Iraq (from all the reports I have read) after the fall of Saddam. And Saddam was not a danger to the U.S. – no WMDs.

    So, the sacrifices seem for naught if the Iraqi constitution is Islamic based. It looks like that country will never be a true democracy. The last time we had a fiasco -(Somalia) I believe the U.S. and especially the military swore we would always have clear goals and a clearly defined exit strategy. What all these protesters are asking for are these things – not to dispute the honor of the men and women who have fallen in these past few years.

    Anyway, good going, whether you agree with me or not.

  2. Kim said

    If Bush was “so sorry” we’d be bringing our troops home from Iraq–or at least have an exit plan to do so.

    Nice to know the President can show some kind of emotion–he comes across as a calloused individual on television every time I hear him speak.

    I expect him to make time in his “busy schedule” to meet with families and widows of our soldiers who have died in this war. To not do so, would be a gross sign of disrespect.


  3. Anonymous said

    Thanks, Maybeso. It would take a long essay to adequately address your concerns (and others have already written them), but regarding the long-term, ongoing Iraq – al Qaeda connections, read ”The Connection” by Stephen Hayes.

    Kim, you really ought to take a break from being so bitter and hate-filled (yes, it comes across loud and clear). You know, it’s bad for your health.

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