Call it what you willâ€”chutzpah, delusion, selective amnesiaâ€”but George W. Bush has it in spades. In word, he purports to honor those who serve in the military and who die in such service. In action, he dishonors our veterans. Yesterday, Memorial Day, the President spoke at Arlington National Cemetery and had the following to say:
All who are buried here understood their duty. They saw a dark shadow on the horizon, and went to meet it. They understood that tyranny must be met with resolve, and that liberty is always the achievement of courageâ€¦.
In this place where valor sleeps, we are reminded why America has always gone to war reluctantly, because we know the costs of war. We have seen those costs in the war on terror we fight today. These grounds are the final resting place for more than 270 men and women who have given their lives in freedom’s cause since the attacks of September the 11th, 2001â€¦.
Our nation is free because of brave Americans like these, who volunteer to confront our adversaries abroad so we do not have to face them here at home. Our nation mourns the loss of our men and women in uniform; we will honor them by completing the mission for which they gave their lives — by defeating the terrorists, by advancing the cause of liberty, and by laying the foundation of peace for a generation of young Americans. [full text]
The tone of the Presidentâ€™s speech was no doubt reverent and somber, and he no doubt conveyed the respect and gratitude deserved to Americaâ€™s fallen veterans. Yet, in his words, as he has done in so many speeches, Mr. Bush continued to dishonor the truth and, in so doing, those who serve at his behest. He again conflated the Iraq War (a.k.a., the War on Terror) and the attacks of September 11th, despite their lack of connection. He spoke of going to war â€œreluctantly,â€? despite much evidence that suggests his administration was intent on tilting at this particular windmill regardless of the costs (to both the truth and to our military personnel). He suggested a belief that stubbornly staying the course and â€œcompleting the missionâ€? is the best way to honor those who have fallen (which would be akin to investing in Enron after the scandal broke and the stock tanked). He warned of â€œa dark shadow on the horizon,â€? which is ironic given the shadows in which his administration typically lurks. He spoke of â€œadvancing the cause of libertyâ€? and meeting â€œtyrannyâ€? with â€œresolve,â€? yet he has done more to undermine liberty and demean the Constitution in his tenure than any President in modern history. Indeed, on this very same day, Mr. Bush signed a bill that would seek to legislate respect for military veterans (the Respect for Americaâ€™s Fallen Heroes Act), a bill that seems unlikely to pass constitutional muster and, in truth, does little of substance to show respect for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. What a sad day for a once honorable nation.