Tuesday, August 23, 2005


The Moose reflects on sacrifice.

Yesterday's speech by the President centered on numbers. The Washington Post,

"President Bush acknowledged the human toll of the Iraq war in blunt numerical terms on Monday, a gesture that advisers said was aimed in part at deflecting criticism that he is not sensitive to the sacrifices imposed by his policies.

"Breaking with the previous White House approach of putting little public emphasis on fatalities, Bush said the nation has "lost 1,864 members of our armed forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and 223 in Operation Enduring Freedom" in Afghanistan."

Since 9/11, this Administration has put all of the burden of the war on the troops and their families. Otherwise it has business (big business, that is) as usual. No attempt was made to change the political dynamic in this country to forge a politics of national unity. No effort was made to pay for this war through war bonds or a tax on those most able to pay. There was absolutely no undertaking to reduce our dependence on Middle East oil. The President rarely calls for young Americans to enlist in the military or civilian service.

Can one imagine W. going to his alma mater, Yale, and urging students to enlist in the military? For instance, at the height of the Vietnam War, Bobby Kennedy challenged university students to relinquish their student deferments.

This Administration has even attempted to make this an antiseptic war by refusing to allow photographs of the coffins of our fallen heroes. The President refuses to attend funerals.

The Moose is certainly not suggesting that the President does not personally feel the pain of the deaths of our soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines. From all accounts, he, like any other Commander in Chief, bears a huge emotional burden for the loss of our troops. However, this Administration has failed to make any effort to make this war against terror a truly national effort in which all Americans are involved.

The President is now suffering a loss of support from a deeply divided public. Instead of uniting this country, the Bushies have divided it during a time of war and are now paying the price.

Whatever our position on this war, all Americans are humbled by the incredible sacrifices of our military and their families. Our society cannot do enough to show our gratitude.

Joe Klein eloquently makes the point about sacrifice in this week's Time,

"It is also possible that there is more than crude political calculation to the President's failure to attend funerals; his refusal to intrude upon the private grief of the families has presidential precedent. But the inability to acknowledge these terrible losses leaves an aching void in the rest of us. It isolates the general public from the suffering that is a dominant reality of life in military communities.

And that is why the awkward anguish of Cindy Sheehan has struck a chord, despite her naive politics and the ideology of some of her supporters. She represents all the tears not shed when the coffins came home without public notice. She is pain made manifest. It is only with a public acknowledgment of the unutterable agony this war has caused that we can begin a serious and long overdue conversation about Iraq, about why this war-which, unlike Vietnam, cannot be abandoned without serious consequences-is still worth fighting and why we should recommit the entire nation to the struggle. This is a failure of leadership, perhaps the signal failure of the Bush presidency."

We must prevail in the Iraq - but that is impossible without the support of an unified nation. In pursuit of partisan advantage, the Bushies have squandered the unity necessary to win a war.

Our country desperately needs a new politics of national unity and service. For too long, the national interest has taken a back seat to the obsessions of the left and the right to score polarizing, partisan, political points. Can either of the two parties produce an elevated politics?

Or is there a need for a new vehicle?

-- Posted at 8:45 AM | Link to this post | Email this post