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 Soldiers 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.
“People say, ‘Why would you do that?'” the president said in an Oval Office interview with The Washington Times on Friday. “And the answer is: This is my duty. The president is commander in chief, but the president is often comforter in chief, as well. It is my duty to be – to try to comfort as best as I humanly can a loved one who is in anguish.”
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.
J.C. Watts, the former Republican representative from Oklahoma once said: “Character is doing the right thing, even when nobody is looking.”
President George W. Bush has a genuine regard and admiration for the U.S. armed forces not seen since the Reagan-George H.W. Bush era.
A big “thank You” to President Bush for what he’s doing. No fanfare. No drum rolls. No adoring press placing a Christ-like halo-effect photo on the cover of a magazine. Just sincere consideration for those who serve their country.
Now, contrast that with the jug-eared Obamessiah, who thinks all we do is “air-raiding and killing civilians”:
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvGI2pTDcvw&eurl) and brushed off visiting the troops overseas because there was no press entourage to cover the photo op.
When draft-dodging, military-loathing Bubba Clinton was in office, he couldn’t tear himself away from Monika or his Chinese fundraisers long enough be bothered with the loss of American troops in Somalia and the Balkans.
Obama, like Clinton, doesn’t have the desire let alone the ability to connect with troops and veterans.
The military has absolutely no respect for a ‘Commander-in-Chief’ who disdains us as some sort of ‘necessary evil’.
The level of concern for the military and the mission is in direct proportion to the gratitude for their sacrifice. I’ve said this before and it bears repeating: It takes a special sort of ingrate to disrespect people who risk their lives defending them.
Note to Dems: The feeling’s mutual.