Wednesday, December 14, 2005

This is pitiful, even for Bush

The parents of Marine Lt. Ryan McGlothlin were on CNN tonight. It turns out that the lieutenant and I would have agreed about a lot.

Let's remember first what Bush said today.
The work ahead will also require continued sacrifice. Yet we can be confident, because history has shown the power of freedom to overcome tyranny. And we can be confident because we have on our side the greatest force for freedom in human history: the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. (Applause.)

One of these men was a Marine lieutenant named Ryan McGlothlin, from Lebanon, Virginia. Ryan was a bright young man who had everything going for him and he always wanted to serve our nation. He was a valedictorian of his high school class. He graduated from William & Mary with near-perfect grade averages, and he was on a full scholarship at Stanford, where he was working toward a doctorate in chemistry.

Two years after the attacks of September the 11th, the young man who had the world at his feet came home from Stanford for a visit. He told his dad, "I just don't feel like I'm doing something that matters. I want to serve my country. I want to protect our lands from terrorists, so I joined the Marines." When his father asked him if there was some other way to serve, Ryan replied that he felt a special obligation to step up because he had been given so much. Ryan didn't support me in the last election, but he supported our mission in Iraq. And he supported his fellow Marines.

Ryan was killed last month fighting the terrorists near the -- Iraq's Syrian border. In his pocket was a poem that Ryan had read at his high school graduation, and it represented the spirit of this fine Marine. The poem was called "Don't Quit."

In our fight to keep America free, we'll never quit.
But here's what Lt. McGlothlin's mother had to say.
Actually, I don't feel Ryan felt that when we first went to war that was the right place or the right time. And that's why we wanted to make sure that the White House understood that. He felt if we were going to go to war we should have been in Afghanistan, and I think he felt war should have been the last resort or last possible resort. And I'm not sure he felt that it was.

What he did feel that once we went there, and we tore down the government they did know, and disrupted their country, we had an obligation to fix what we had destroyed. And he very strongly believed in that.
In other words, we're seeing the results of what Colin Powell called the "Pottery Barn" policy. McGlothlin believed that, since we'd broken Iraq, we were responsible for fixing it. He knew that the initial move was a mistake and, while he grew to admire and want to help the Iraqis, he didn't think this war had anything to do with keeping America free.

I believed the same thing until very recently.

Let's run down the list: Bush has sent our lost soldiers home as freight, joked while discussing their (and Iraqis) final sacrifices and, now, he now misrepresents the values of the dead for his own purposes. He has no shame.


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