Who Knew?

Mickey Kaus, fellow Norman and depressed Democrat, has an interesting nugget buried in his story on Bush’s ‘WMD Joke’ speech.

P.P.S.: The soldier sitting closest to me clearly liked Bush, perhaps because he had just seen the president, in person, for the third time. Apparently, Bush pays regular visits to wounded soldiers at Walter Reed. Did you know that? I didn’t. Admittedly, it’s easier to visit the wounded than to go to funerals, which Bush has been accused of not doing enough of. Still …

Honestly, I’m not shilling for Bush. I’m just trying to figure the guy out.

25 thoughts on “Who Knew?”

  1. I noticed that, too…My take on it is that Bush doesn’t see this kind of thing as political; for him, it may be seen as more of a Christian moral duty that he has to these men and women as their commander-in-chief.

    In terms of military funerals, which Mickey suggests the President should attend, I think that this kind of thing is somewhat distasteful. Whose funeral do you go to? How does a family feel about having the POTUS at a deeply personal ceremony for the loved ones of the deceased? The calls for Bush to show up at one of these things is driven by media voyeurism, not a real sense of moral outrage. If he showed up at a funeral, the press would accuse him of exploiting the dead!

  2. Actually, it would be easier to attend a funeral. One doesn’t have to look the dead in the eye. In a hospital, the wounded are present in body and spirit, and one has to actually say something to them. Bush deserves credit for going to visit the wounded. And, funny thing, but when did attending funerals become the job of a President? That is typical liberal bulls**t, that feelings are what matter most. The President’s job is to lead, regardless of his feelings about the matter. Any combat leader will tell you that feelings are a peacetime luxury.

  3. I grew up in Kansas when Bob Dole was junior senator. Dole was conspicuously active at veterans’ events, including efforts to help VietNam wounded re-enter the labor force, the university system, etc. A certain part of it always seemed cynical, calculated, and spotlight-seeking. But another part shone thru as basic to Dole’s character, shaped (warped?) by his own experience. A war wound, to Dole, was simply one more thing to grind away at, to be overcome by personal grit — and the support of family and neighbors. He was trying to help, and to be SEEN trying to help.

    I sort of assume John Kerry would have a long track record of similar appearances helping VN and later veterans in all the Mass. news media.
    If so, it should be easy to document examples. If not, well then that says something about his committment to his “band of brothers”, doesn’t it?

  4. A.L.

    This story says less about Bush than it does about the political culture and social groups Mickey Kaus is a part of.

    I learned about Bush’s visits from one of the military affairs related e-mail lists I was on over 18 months ago.

    Democrats without relatives in the military are in such a Bush hating fish bowl, far removed from the reality of the war, they will always be the last to know about the good things Bush does out of site of the media.

    That is why Kraus is among the last to know.

    It took his talking to a soldier to find out.

  5. Kaus was there as a guest of Fox News. He isn’t as deep down the Democratic well as you’d think.

    Personally, I approve of Bush prioritizing the wounded over funerals. The dead are dead, and beyond help – his responsibility is to the living.

  6. Earlier this week Chris Matthews went to Walter Reed to film the program that will be today’s (Friday’s) Hardball.

    Yesterday he slammed the President for his WMD spoof at the Correspondents’ dinner. And he pointedly said: Why doesn’t he go to Walter Reed, to see the effects of his policies. Then he wouldn’t joke around.

  7. >Apparently, Bush pays regular visits to wounded
    >soldiers at Walter Reed. Did you know that?

    Well..yeah. Bush doesn’t tend to make a big show over these visits. But rest assured you don’t see anything in the WaPo about it. If the press was really interested, it’s easy enough to find out. Just ask any employee over at Walter Reed. I happened to hear about it from my brother-in-law who works over at WRAMC.

  8. No one really wants a politician who loudly trumpets doing something decent like visiting the wounded. It seems sleazy. Sadly, without some operative publicizing and making it political, the public never knows.

    Oh well. Virtue is its own reward.

  9. Trent, you can’t blame Kaus for not knowing anyone in the military. People like him really have no way of coming into contact with a soldier.
    It’s likely that none of his relatives under the age of 50 or 60 have served. I assume that he went to a well-known high school and an Ivy League college, and he certianly wouldn’t have met too many veterans in such places. Everyone he works with likely has a similar background, so again, there’s no opportunity to meet a veteran at work. West LA/Beverly Hills/Santa Monica are not exactly teeming with retired military, so the neighbors are out.

    It’s not Kaus’ fault. Most upper-middle-class Democrats don’t know any soldiers. To them, a soldier is basically an immigrant from Bangladesh — someone with a radically differnet and alien perspective that is almost impossible to relate to. One might like and admire the immigrant from Bangaldesh who runs the corner grocery store, but one can’t truly *relate to* him, given his arranged marraige, his deprived childhood in a desperately poor third world country, and his adherence to a strange religion.

    This is, admittedly, a terrible social problem. When the elites in our society view the soldiers who protect them as an alien species, something is very wrong. But it’s not Kaus’ fault. What can he do? It’s like criticizing someone who has spent their entire life in rural Iowa for failing to understand the perspective of black people. There are no black people in rural Iowa, so it’s not fair to fault someone who lives there for something like that.

  10. Since the President’s daily schedule is given to the White House correspondants, that these visits are not being reported can be laid at the correspondants feet.

  11. Funny – the meme on the left half of the blogosphere is “Bush pisses on the graves of veterans / veterans / all those who serve.” Pick one.

    Kerry’s meme is exactly the same, albeit expressed more politely, for now – “I take deep personal offense as a veteran, and on behalf of all those who have died, at Mr. Bush’s actions toward veterans and soldiers.”

    Funny, I’m a veteran, and I don’t feel offended by him. I think he’s pretty genuine, for a politician, and it seems to pain him to put troops in harm’s way.

    But then, I don’t need to be offended. John Kerry has apparently agreed to be offended for me.

    – Al

  12. Slightly off topic, but I wanted everyones’ thoughts on this:

    This quote is from David Halbfinger in the March 19 NY Times (use my URL to go to full article)

    “Several Democrats and Kerry aides said some of his missteps were a result of exhaustion.”

    My question is: Hadn’t it been conventional wisdom that Kerry, after Dean imploded, was “electable” and basically skated the last couple of weeks of campaigning? Or was he locked into those events, and had to keep up the grueling schedule? I could be wrong.

  13. Matthew 6 (King James):

    1: Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
    2: Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.


  14. A.L.,

    I’d heard of Bush’s visits to Walter Reed, too–but mostly from reports on various military blogs, with something like a letter from a relative of one of the wounded soldiers Bush visited. In many ways, I think it’s appropriate that such visits are under-the-radar, because it demonstrates sincere concern to the patients at Walter Reed–and isn’t that the point?

    Chris Matthews publically demonstrating his ignorance of relevant facts is unfortunately not news. It would be nice if today’s Hardball has him eating crow over his earlier comments, but I’m not holding my breath.

  15. I watched the Matthews segment. I don’t know why I watch him because his deceitful omissions infuriate me.

    I was surprised by Chris’s visit as he showed it on the program.

    I may have missed something while cooking dinner, but as far as I saw, Chris talked at length with two soldiers who had each lost a leg (above the knee), one who served in Afghanistan and one who served in Iraq.

    The soldier from Iraq (now retired according to the titling) clearly stated that regardless of WMDs and what was said about WMDs, he felt the Iraq mission was worth it, based on what he knew and learned of the Iraqi people and their oppression under Saddam. It wasn’t just his words that said this, his facial expression as he spoke of it said this too.

    The soldier from Afghanstan stated that he wanted to remain with the military as a career counsellor for recruits. He said he believed sharing his experience would be beneficial to young men who may not fully realize the commitment and sacrifice that will be expected of them, and that if they have what it takes, the military has much to offer.

    Neither soldier mentioned the president during the segment. I have to believe Chris asked them about it but chose not to air their views on the subject.


  16. Bush also visited NNMC in Bethesda at least twice, once in April and once last summer. The wounded Marines go there (as opposed to the Army folks that go to Walter Reed).

  17. This is somewhat in line with a thought that just occcured to me of late.

    I remember when Bill Clinton got shellacked in ’94, and saw the Democrats lose the House, and he came out and made some appearance and he looked lost, as if he took it very personally, probably correctly.

    Now, I oppose Presidents without hating them (one of the few remaining, I guess), and I don’t hate Clinton. And I remember feeling rather sorry for him, as it must be hard for a President to be in such a place. I vaguely remember feeling similar for Jimmy Carter when he, thank God, got crushed by Reagan, and he also looked forlorn in the aftermath.

    Point is, I think Bush will win….. BUT…. if he did lose, and even if he lost big…. I just can’t see him coming out all forlorn and betrayed as if the American people turned on him and he meant so well and life is just awful, etc. I just can’t see it. I guess that’s because of his faith, but I categorically beleive that were Bush to lose, he might go to sleep worried about the world, but not about himself, his legacy, or his role. God’s will, maybe. That’s just my sense.

    And one reason I damn sure intend to vote for him.

  18. Hmmm.

    “It’s not Kaus’ fault. Most upper-middle-class Democrats don’t know any soldiers. To them, a soldier is basically an immigrant from Bangladesh — someone with a radically differnet and alien perspective that is almost impossible to relate to.”

    Sorry but that is his fault and one that he could have corrected all by himself. He could either have gone and actually talked to soldiers, and found out for himself what their views were, or he could have signed up and done a tour of active duty himself.


    Hey. In my family every man has served at least one tour of active duty. No idea how far back it goes but it’s been around for awhile. That there isn’t a similar tradition in some households doesn’t excuse their ignorance of military traditions, ideals or beliefs.

  19. Eight year enlisted vetern of the Marines here.

    I never _had_ to do this but you can be rest assured it was never far from my mind. It would have been easier to attend a funeral than to look into the eyes of a crippled man upon whose order (direct or indirect) I’d sent into harm’s way.

  20. Cori Dauber, who is a professor specializing in presidential rhetoric and tradition, has written on this subject. In short, there are VERY good reasons why presidents do NOT attend individual services in wartime.

    “…Memorial services happen because for each family with a loss, every loss is unspeakable tragedy. But for the nation it is honored sacrifice that is accepted (in both senses) as part of the larger effort. To have the president wallow in the loss of each soldier as a member of a family’s particular universe, rather than as a member of the national fabric, cannot happen while the nation is participating in a military effort that demands that sacrifice of some of it’s people…” (quoted here)

    Cori’s blog: Ranting Profs

    I suspect military people or those with a feel for our history understand this unconsciously, but Cori is a good resource if you are arguing with the clueless…

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