What have you sacrificed for the Iraq War effort? Nothing! Unless you're in the military or have a family member or a friend in the military, you probably haven't sacrificed diddly-shit. Why can't you be more like the president? The president sacrificed golf. Golf!
From a May 13 Politico.com interview:
Q: Mr. President, you haven't been golfing in recent years. Is that related to Iraq?
The president: Yes, it really is. I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the Commander-in-Chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be as—to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.
Q: Mr. President, was there a particular moment or incident that brought you to that decision, or how did you come to that?
The president: No, I remember when de Mello, who was at the U.N., got killed in Baghdad as a result of these murderers taking this good man's life. And I was playing golf—I think I was in central Texas—and they pulled me off the golf course and I said, it's just not worth it anymore to do.
Still bothering to interview Bush, the reporter is like one of the chambermaids carrying the train of the invisible coat in “The Emperor's New Clothes.” Even after everyone watching the procession is laughing at his nakedness, and the emperor, realizing he's been swindled by fake weavers (Cheney, et al, anyone?), decides he must “bear on,” his loyal chambermaids dutifully cling to his nonexistent coattails and keep marching right behind him.
But alas, alack and drilling for oil in Alaska, Bush is no fairy tale. He is our collective nightmare come true. His delusion that history will prove him a great emperor no matter how many people die or suffer for his failures is not funny enough to keep you laughing long.
Bush sacrificed fucking golf out of “solidarity” with military families who have sacrificed their children. It “sends the wrong signal” for the president to golf while the soldiers he sent to war are dying. I'm sure that's comforting to the hundreds of families whose children had already died in Iraq during the six months before the killing of U.N. Iraq Envoy Sergio de Mello, awakened Bush to his epiphany. American soldiers had been dying at a rate of one or two per day for months prior to his revelation. At the time, the crumbling, rat-infested Walter Reed Medical Center had to place wounded soldiers in beds reserved for cancer patients to accommodate the growing number returning with parts blown off. In August 2003, when Bush claims he decided to stop golfing, nearly 1,000 Americans had already suffered serious injuries. And as CBS News reported, he didn't really stop golfing until that October. He wasn't lying; it just takes that long for a thought to travel from his brain to his putter.
He “owed” it to the mother of a dead soldier not to let her “see” him golfing. “It was not worth it anymore to do.” For Bush, it wasn't a deep sense of mourning for the dead soldiers and their families, the wounded nor the thousands of Iraqi casualties he never mentions that led to this auspicious decision. It's not that he didn't feel like playing games in August 2003—when Americans were killing and dying every day over nonexistent weapons of mass destruction and the supposedly nonexistent insurgency was already “bringing it on”—it's that he didn't want to appear to feel like playing games. The potential appearance of insensitivity, unselfconsciously figured by the president in market-value metaphors like “owe” and “worth,” became a cost that finally outweighed the benefit of teeing off. One wonders whether the “they” who “pulled him off the golf course” might have helped him work out the equation.
But for the hell of it, let's give The Decider the benefit of the doubt and accept that he decided to stop playing golf all by himself. Did he never consider that the context of his August golf games might bother military families as much as the golfing itself? Remember why was he even in Texas in August '03?Bush was mid-way through one of his marathon vacations, where, according to The Associated Press and BuzzFlash.com, in addition to golf, he spent the month clearing brush on his ranch, jogging, “watching lightning streak across the Texas sky” and hosting $50,000-a-plate fundraiser barbecues. He didn't call or visit a single one of the families of the dozens of soldiers killed in Iraq during the four weeks of his vacation. Perhaps military families would have been forgiving of a round of golf if he'd taken a moment of his vacation to express some meaningful compassion for them.
And apparently he wasn't alarmed enough over de Mello's death in an insurgent bombing on Aug. 19 to cut his vacation too short (he stayed in Crawford until the end of the month). In fact, perhaps the greatest irony in Bush's already infamous golf interview is that de Mello was no friend of Bush's. According to Samantha Power in a recent New Yorker article, de Mello charmed Bush, but after meeting with him, asked Kofi Annan to remove his name for consideration as U.N. Iraq Envoy. Annan had to talk him into taking the job.
De Mello was skeptical of the occupation—“morally, and practically, I doubt it can ever be legitimate”—and vocally critical of American policy: “The world has become too complex for only one country, whatever its might, to determine the future or the destiny of humanity…. The era of empire is finished.”
According to Power, de Mello joked that his autobiography would be called “My Friends the War Criminals.” Too bad he didn't live to write the chapter on George W. Bush.