The simple human decency of George Bush

Many readers of this site - including yours truly - have disagreed vehemently with George Bush on numerous occasions. Unlike the left, however, most of us have seen the president as a decent, God-fearing man who took office and served during perhaps the most consequential period of American history since the Civil War.

He will never, ever be vouchsafed this decency by the left - no matter if the evidence comes up and smacks them over the head.

Here's the bludgeon:

 
For much of the past seven years, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have waged a clandestine operation inside the White House. It has involved thousands of military personnel, private presidential letters and meetings that were kept off their public calendars or sometimes left the news media in the dark.

Their mission: to comfort the families of soldiers who died fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and to lift the spirits of those wounded in the service of their country.

On Monday, the president is set to make a more common public trip - with reporters in tow - to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, home to many of the wounded and a symbol of controversy earlier in his presidency over the quality of care the veterans were receiving.

But the size and scope of Mr. Bush's and Mr. Cheney's private endeavors to meet with wounded soliders and families of the fallen far exceed anything that has been witnessed publicly, according to interviews with more than a dozen officials familiar with the effort.


Bush says the reason he did it is simply that he felt it his duty to do so.

Mr. Bush, for instance, has sent personal letters to the families of every one of the more than 4,000 troops who have died in the two wars, an enormous personal effort that consumed hours of his time and escaped public notice. The task, along with meeting family members of troops killed in action, has been so wrenching - balancing the anger, grief and pride of families coping with the loss symbolized by a flag-draped coffin - that the president often leaned on his wife, Laura, for emotional support.

"I lean on the Almighty and Laura," Mr. Bush said in the interview. "She has been very reassuring, very calming."

Mr. Bush also has met privately with more than 500 families of troops killed in action and with more than 950 wounded veterans, according to White House spokesman Carlton Carroll. Many of those meetings were outside the presence of the news media at the White House or at private sessions during official travel stops, officials said.

The first lady said those private visits, many of which she also attended, took a heavy emotional toll, not just on the president, but on her as well.

Vice President Cheney also made an extraordinary effort to meet with wounded soldiers and families of the deceased.

A purely political observation is if the public knew of this herculean effort on the part of Bush and Cheney - the sheer numbers being incredible - I daresay the president's approval ratings would not be hovering in the mid-20's. The demonization of Bush by the media and the left would have been much more difficult and perhaps less successful.

But in the end, they were right to keep it a secret. Any hint of politics in such an effort would have made the entire exercise seem hypocritical. And you can bet that the media and the left would have tried to paint any effort to visit and comfort the troops - such as the massive undertaking described in the article - as PR window dressing, nothing more.

Bush has come in for a lot of criticism - much of it deserved - over the years. But the portrayal of him as an unfeeling, uncaring man when it came to the suffering of soldiers or citizens as a result of war or natural disaster was always purely political. Even his most vigorous supporters, however, could not have imagined the extent to which he gave of his time and emotional energy to ease the suffering of Americans who have given so much for America during his time in office.






Many readers of this site - including yours truly - have disagreed vehemently with George Bush on numerous occasions. Unlike the left, however, most of us have seen the president as a decent, God-fearing man who took office and served during perhaps the most consequential period of American history since the Civil War.

He will never, ever be vouchsafed this decency by the left - no matter if the evidence comes up and smacks them over the head.

Here's the bludgeon:

 
For much of the past seven years, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have waged a clandestine operation inside the White House. It has involved thousands of military personnel, private presidential letters and meetings that were kept off their public calendars or sometimes left the news media in the dark.

Their mission: to comfort the families of soldiers who died fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and to lift the spirits of those wounded in the service of their country.

On Monday, the president is set to make a more common public trip - with reporters in tow - to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, home to many of the wounded and a symbol of controversy earlier in his presidency over the quality of care the veterans were receiving.

But the size and scope of Mr. Bush's and Mr. Cheney's private endeavors to meet with wounded soliders and families of the fallen far exceed anything that has been witnessed publicly, according to interviews with more than a dozen officials familiar with the effort.


Bush says the reason he did it is simply that he felt it his duty to do so.

Mr. Bush, for instance, has sent personal letters to the families of every one of the more than 4,000 troops who have died in the two wars, an enormous personal effort that consumed hours of his time and escaped public notice. The task, along with meeting family members of troops killed in action, has been so wrenching - balancing the anger, grief and pride of families coping with the loss symbolized by a flag-draped coffin - that the president often leaned on his wife, Laura, for emotional support.

"I lean on the Almighty and Laura," Mr. Bush said in the interview. "She has been very reassuring, very calming."

Mr. Bush also has met privately with more than 500 families of troops killed in action and with more than 950 wounded veterans, according to White House spokesman Carlton Carroll. Many of those meetings were outside the presence of the news media at the White House or at private sessions during official travel stops, officials said.

The first lady said those private visits, many of which she also attended, took a heavy emotional toll, not just on the president, but on her as well.

Vice President Cheney also made an extraordinary effort to meet with wounded soldiers and families of the deceased.

A purely political observation is if the public knew of this herculean effort on the part of Bush and Cheney - the sheer numbers being incredible - I daresay the president's approval ratings would not be hovering in the mid-20's. The demonization of Bush by the media and the left would have been much more difficult and perhaps less successful.

But in the end, they were right to keep it a secret. Any hint of politics in such an effort would have made the entire exercise seem hypocritical. And you can bet that the media and the left would have tried to paint any effort to visit and comfort the troops - such as the massive undertaking described in the article - as PR window dressing, nothing more.

Bush has come in for a lot of criticism - much of it deserved - over the years. But the portrayal of him as an unfeeling, uncaring man when it came to the suffering of soldiers or citizens as a result of war or natural disaster was always purely political. Even his most vigorous supporters, however, could not have imagined the extent to which he gave of his time and emotional energy to ease the suffering of Americans who have given so much for America during his time in office.