American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.
March 21, 2006
A SYMPATHETIC WORD FOR GEORGE BUSH
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- You can see it in his face, you can see it in his eyes; there's a certain heaviness about President George W. Bush becoming more evident each day. I see it as the weight of the world he's carrying on his shoulders. It wasn't supposed to be this way.
He was a relatively young man when he came into national prominence. He had leadership abilities having served eight years as Governor of Texas - one of our more formidable states to be sure -- a state where his record of not pardoning a convict sentenced to death by a jury of his or her peers brought him to additional national attention as a no-nonsense enforcer weighing justice for the victims more heavily than compassion for the condemned.
We liked his family; parents George and Barbara Bush spent four years in the White House and we knew them well. They were good parents. George W.'s wife, Laura, was sweet, pretty, gentle, warm, loving - all the good things. We saw a woman who loved books and raised beautiful twin girls.
Whether we voted for him or not, we knew we were finished with the tarnished image we lived with for eight years during President Clinton's incumbency.
So, President Bush plodded along doing all the things our Presidents do. Heads of State were greeted at the front door; Kennedy Center Honors performances went on with the OPresident and First Lady sitting front row center and dignitaries all around. We were all beautiful, we were so civilized, but we were also so very, very naïve.
Then, 9/11 struck. (Nine-eleven. What an economy of words.) I don't have to say another thing. We all have the picture. Terrorists attacked us. The terrorists attacked us because they found a way to do it. And, they did it. It was as simple as that. We never saw it coming. And, even now, while words are bandied back and forth in the halls of Congress that "he" knew this and "she" told him that, no one saw it coming. We didn't know a people existed in this modern age who had such disregard for human life, including their own, and could explain it away as a noble "Holy War."
Of course we should have known, but we didn't. All the intelligence in the world would not have alerted us to an attack that could only have been carried out by the cold, calculated suicide of the terrorists manning the jet-fueled missile directed into the World Trade Center and another toward the Pentagon. That story wouldn't even pass an editor at Science Fiction, Inc.
Before the ashes settled, President Bush grabbed a bullhorn, climbed on what appeared to be a mound of rubble, and announced that we are at war - a war against terrorists who he said would be rooted out from wherever they holed up. He spoke further in the "no place to run, no place to hide," vein and the preparations began.
Today is the third anniversary of our show of "shock and awe," and it was spectacular - as far as showmanship goes, that is. We got them on the run, all right. Unfortunately, when we got them running, it was not away. They started running all over us. Who would have thought it was possible? Our enemy was made up of cookie-cutter images in robes and turbans. We couldn't tell the soldiers from the rest of the population.
We have a great number of Muslims in the United States, all law abiding citizens, I might add, who provide an ethnic profile of just what the Al-Qaeda soldiers might look like. Basically, they wear what all the men in Iraq wear. They are indistinguishable from merchants or farmers. The soldiers neither march nor run, they burrow and hide.
We have never faced a foe whose military strategy so defies the wisdom as we know and understand warfare. It appears our best efforts are now being directed toward loving and being loved by the people of Iraq, something they never considered in all their years under dictator Sadam Hussein. We're teaching democracy and they appear to embrace it.
Still, the war is going on and President Bush means what he says. We're in to win in this war against the terrorists everywhere in the world. If not over there, then "they" will bring it over here. We know this beyond any doubt. But, the weight of responsibility lies solely on our President. (He's aging rapidly as Lincoln did - witness the Lincoln photographs before and then during the Civil War.)
When our boys headed out this date three years ago, it was high-fives all around. "Go get 'em." Now we've added a new national game: Bush Bashing. Those engaging in such sport remind me of the funny little man Brothers Grimm created: Rumpelstiltskin. He didn't get his way and so, "in his rage drove his right foot so far into the ground that it sank in up to his waist; then in a passion he seized the left foot with both hands and tore himself in two."
The liberals among us are so angry, so very angry, because the rest of us don't see it their way. Luckily, the "rest of us" just do what we always do. We quietly go into the voting booth and vote our collective consciences, while "they" call for the President to be impeached, or at the very least, censured. No President has been censured since Andrew Jackson! A lot of good impeachment does, anyway. President Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives and showed up for work the next day, business as usual, pending the Senate's vote. The Senate didn't bother.
The bashers, both protest marchers and writers alike, want the military home. So do I. I don't want another person killed. But, I also don't want to hop on a bus or train and be blown away. I feel safe. I feel quite safe in this war that no one - I'll say it again - no one - saw coming. Luckily, Mr. Bush. was raised in the good old American tradition: "In for a penny, in for a pound."
Would I say that if I were on the front line? No, I probably wouldn't. But it appears those who are on the front line do say exactly that after seeing first hand what they are accomplishing and why. And, I am so grateful for all they do for us.
President Bush could call our military home and have a boost in his ratings in the polls. Or, he can stay the course and do what he feels is the right thing to do in fulfilling his commitment to protect the American people.
He meant what he said when he was sworn into office. I trust he's more concerned with my well-being than whether or not he's popular. But, he's human … and he's hurting.