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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of Nov 26 - Dec 2, 2003

Opinion Column

The commander-in-chief insults fallen GIs

Commentary by Pat Murphy

On his master calendar of staged events for George Bush’s re-election, White House political mastermind Karl Rove presumably will add a date for the president to attend funerals for fallen GIs to show he cares about the dead returning home from Iraq.

Criticism of the AWOL president is increasing. Damage control is inevitable before Election Day.

Meanwhile, however, White House insults to military fatalities continue with cold indifference.

The latest affront: even as his aides insist Bush lacks time to attend public funerals, but can only meet in private with next of kin, he found time for a hurried photo-op with 175 oldsters at the Los Olivos Senior Center in Phoenix Tuesday to glad-hand old folks and boast of his Medicare legislation.

Thereafter, he also had time for a $2,000-per-ticket fundraiser at the glittering Arizona Biltmore Hotel for 600 boosters before hopping on Air Force One ($40,000-per-hour to operate) for a stop in Las Vegas to scoop up more cash, then onward to heaven knows where.

The Bush-Cheney scrounge is vulgar. They’ve banked more than $200 million for the ’04 campaign at more than 60 fund-raisers. Phoenix Republicans coughed up another $1 million-plus.

But still no time for GI funerals.

How come the usually voluble American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Disabled American Veterans—usually so quick to demand patriotic treatment of service personnel—have been struck dumb and speechless?

By their silence, they seem to also condone the ban on photos of flag-draped coffins being sneaked into the country from Iraq without public tribute or public homage?

This smells like the 2003 version of the rude welcome for vets returning from the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Bush’s aloof conduct, however, is too much for John B. Roberts II, a onetime aide to Bush Jr.’s idol, President Ronald Reagan.

Writing in The New York Times ("Mourning in America," Nov. 19), Roberts told President Bush he "is wrong to bask publicly in glory on the deck of an aircraft carrier unless you are also willing to grieve openly for fallen soldiers. You can’t wrap yourself in the flag while avoiding flag-draped coffins."

Bush drones on in prepared speeches about GI courage. But the commander-in-chief—on advice of insufferably apathetic political handlers—shrinks from showing up at funerals out of fright that photos of him honoring GIs killed in Iraq would remind voters of the costs of the Iraq expedition.

(Political fears aren’t confined to funerals: Bush signed an executive order last week forbidding the U.S. Inspector General in Iraq from auditing how $87 billion in Iraq reconstruction is being spent because of—you guessed it!— "national security." Audits would’ve covered big political donors who received no-bid contracts.)

The president’s managers are tireless in scheduling photo-ops of Bush surrounded by live, applauding troops at their stateside bases.

But funerals?

GIs who’ve given their lives to a war the president started get his snub in return.



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