Sunday, October 21, 2007

For the President's Amusment

(Cross posted from Gold Star Mom Speaks Out)

I don't have a problem with Rep Pete Stark's (CA-D) comments about Bush's attitude about the war. I tried to let the Congressman know at his offices in Washington and California on Friday, without success as his voice mailboxes were predictably full. Stark's comments are probably closer to the truth than anyone would like to think. No one wants to think this president undertook this war with anything but the sober understanding that war is a serious proposition and not a game, but we have little evidence.

So when Pete Stark stood in front of the House of Representatives during a debate about the proposed SCHIP funding (State Children's Health insurance Plan focused on uninsured children from low-income families), and said what he said, some Republican's heads predictably exploded as they felt the words were harsh. (video & transcript from Raw Story here)

"You don't have money to fund the (Iraq) war or children. But you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people -- if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement."

Bush has never given us any indication that he takes his little wargame's in Iraq & Afghanistan with any kind of seriousness, care or empathy. The Republicans may have forgotten his speech to the Radio & Television Correspondents Dinner back in March of 2004. This was the speech that Bush thought he was sooooooooo funny when he presented a White House Election year photo album with his amusing commentary. Especially hysterical talking about the search for WMD's. A series of photos showed the president in awkward positions -- on his knees, looking behind draperies and moving furniture in the Oval Office -- accompanied by such comments as "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere," "Nope, no weapons over there!" and "Maybe under here?" Yes, it was hilarious! Especially when the president knew there were no weapons of destruction in Iraq at all.

I spoke to a reporter who had attended the RTCA dinner that night. She said that many of them were embarrassed at the comments and couldn't believe he was making jokes while our service members were dying. And when the White house was asked at the time whether they thought Democrats were using the issue of the president's comments to engage in partisan politics, a spokesperson said, "I'll let you be the judge of that." For this White House, it is never about taste, decorum or empathy, it is always about politics.

I was horrified as my son, 1Lt Ken Ballard was in his 10th month of hell in Iraq at the time of the RTCA dinner. This president was joking about the serious job that our soldiers had undertaken on his orders with nearly 600 who had died by then. We did not think it was funny nor very presidential.

I know that my friends, the Zappala's, the family of Sgt Sherwood Baker, who was a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard sent to Iraq to provide security to the Iraq Survey Group, didn't think it was funny at all. Less than a month after the RTCA dinner, Sherwood was killed in an explosion guarding those looking for those same weapons of mass destruction, that we now know never existed.

Bush's joking about war as young men & women are dying show us he is more Frat Boy In Chief, rather than the Commander in Chief of US Armed Forces. Despite the president's claims that he suffers with each death and that he frequently cries about the war, it is hard to believe with his cavalier attitude. When the president landed on the aircraft carrier back in May 2003, and announced "Mission Accomplished", he was hearkening back to his days of "service" in the Texas National Guard. It was a game to Bush then and it is a game now.

Members of the military serving in Iraq are thought of as little green army men or a game of Risk to this president and his supporters. Multiple deployments, increased divorce rates, PTSD, many cases of shoddy medical treatment, lack of appropriate resources and equipment; these fighting men and women and their families are on their own.

War is not for anyone's amusement, it's not funny and jokes about anything related to our son's and daughter's dying are inappropriate and disrespectful. Ask any of the families and friends of the 3834 US military who have been killed to date. We don't think it is funny at all.

Thanks to Pete Stark for having the courage to say what many people have been thinking all along.