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C'mon Dubya, Talk to the Lady

August 10, 2005
By Ken Sanders

Can there still be any question that President Bush is a coward? Is there any remaining doubt that Bush is not only a coward, but that he doesn't give two shakes about the thousands of men and women he has sent off to die, be mutilated, or be psychologically traumatized? Any such questions should be put firmly to rest by the story of Cindy Sheehan.

On April 4, 2004, Cindy's son Casey died while ridding the world of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction - or liberating the oppressed Iraqis, or bringing peace and stability to the Middle East, or whatever lie the Bush administration happened to be telling at the time to justify their arrogant and short-sighted decision to thrust the U.S. into a wholly unnecessary and irresponsible war. In short, Casey died because his Commander in Chief, our dear President, sent him off to war.

Now, a little more than a year after her son's death, Cindy wants answers. She wants to know why her son had to die. She wants to know why we invaded a country that posed no legitimate threat to our national interests. She wants to know the meaning of the Downing Street Memo's statement that within the Bush administration, "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." She wants to know what Bush means when he refers to the "noble cause" for which her son was killed. She wants to know why, if the cause is so damn noble, Bush's own kids aren't fighting for it?

To that end, Cindy and the family members of many more casualties of Bush's war have set up camp outside Bush's Crawford, Texas ranch, demanding to speak with the man in charge.

Only Bush isn't talking. Instead, he cowers behind the protection of one of his infamous "free speech zones," safe from the impertinent questioning of those naive enough to still think the U.S. is a democracy. He struts around in his boots and hat, pretending to be a cowboy from Texas instead of a rich-boy from Connecticut who summered in Maine. He hides, hoping the unsavory characters at his door will simply go away.

Bush's refusal to speak to Cindy should come as no surprise. As made clear by his innumerable made-for-television "town hall meetings," Bush is either too dumb or too cowardly to face unscripted questions, much less be challenged by citizens who hadn't first passed their screen tests and sworn loyalty oaths. In keeping with his fear of anything resembling real leadership, Bush won't let even Cindy and her comrades within four miles of his desolate ranch. They were only allowed to come that close after being forced to park their vehicles eight miles away and then walk four miles in a ditch. When they dared walk on the road, they weren't permitted to go any further. Talk about gratitude: thanks for your unimaginable sacrifice, now walk four miles in this ditch.

Undeterred by the offensive treatment she received on Bush's orders, Cindy has vowed to remain camped (far) outside the ranch until Bush decides to suck it up and talk to her. If he can't muster the courage in Texas, Cindy's vowed to follow Bush to Washington. She's got nothing to lose. Her son's already dead.

Granted, Bush did speak with Cindy once before, approximately two months after her son was killed. Cindy claims that she was still in shock at the time, and who could blame her? Imagine the scene: a bereaved mother, grappling with the impossible concept that her son was dead. While in her state of mind-numbing grief and confusion, Bush consoles her with the same hollow platitudes used on countless other occasions. "Your son/daughter/husband/wife died in a noble and selfless cause." She nods her head, says thank you, sobs, and wonders how to rid herself of the ache in her chest. Meanwhile, Bush moves on to mechanically repeat the same lines to another grieving victim of his war on terror.

The question is, why won't Bush hear out Cindy and her colleagues? If he is so cock-sure that his war in Iraq is "a noble and selfless cause," why would he feel threatened by those who question that assessment? If his administration did not fix the intelligence around its Iraq policy, why not answer the questions of those concerned by the Downing Street Memo and put their doubts to rest? If Bush does truly mourn every loss of American life lost in Iraq, why not come down from his lofty perch and give those whose loved ones have died in Iraq the respect they deserve, instead of forcing them to walk in a ditch?

No need to answer. The questions are rhetorical.

Ken Sanders is an attorney and writer in Tucson whose work has been published by Z Magazine, Common Dreams, Democratic Underground, Dissident Voice, and Political Affairs Magazine, among others.

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