Cheney: Bush Carries the Biggest Burden

Recently, I heard a snippet of an interview that Bush did with a television reporter in Crawford in which he was asked to describe his presidency. His immediate response was that it had been "joyful." Joyful? Two wars, thousands of dead American soldiers, tens of thousands of injured American soldiers, millions of injured, dead, or displaced Iraqis and Afghans, the 9/11 tragedy that started it all and left thousands of dead American civilians, and the first word that comes to his head is joyful?

Of course, he sleeps "a lot better than people would assume," too, so I probably shouldn't be surprised that he finds the whole endeavor of warmongering "joyful."

That he doesn't lose any sleep over it is galling; that he cheerfully admits it is galling yet further; but the cherry on top has to be Cheney's contention that no one suffers more than Bush does.
"[The milestone today of 4,000 dead] obviously brings home I think for a lot of people the cost that's involved in the global war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan," Cheney said in [an interview with ABC News' White House correspondent, Martha Raddatz], conducted in Turkey. "It places a special burden obviously on the families, and we recognize, I think — it's a reminder of the extent to which we are blessed with families who've sacrificed as they have."

"The president carries the biggest burden, obviously," Cheney said. "He's the one who has to make the decision to commit young Americans, but we are fortunate to have a group of men and women, the all-volunteer force, who voluntarily put on the uniform and go in harm's way for the rest of us."
On the heels of "So?" no less. I guess Bush and Cheney could best be described as Joyful Cop / Belligerent Asshole Cop.

It's quite amazing to hear a five-time draft dodger describe the erstwhile "young and irresponsible" Texas Air National Guardsman as the bearer of the biggest burden of a war so unnecessary they had to lie their way into it.

It's even more amazing if you've ever heard of the Hubbards.
In 2004 [the Hubbards'] son, Marine Lance Cpl. Jared Hubbard, was on patrol in Iraq with his best friend and fellow Marine, Jeremiah Baro -- also from Clovis -- when a roadside bomb exploded, killing both.

…Six months after Jared was killed, Nathan and Jason Hubbard decided to enlist and serve together -- to follow in their brother's footsteps.

On August 22 after returning from a scouting mission south of Kirkuk, Iraq, the Blackhawk helicopter carrying Nathan and 13 other soldiers crashed.

Jason, who served in the same Army platoon, was in a separate helicopter when his brother went down and was ordered to secure the crash site.

When he and his men reached the downed Blackhawk, Jason says he realized it was his brother's unit.

"We also had to remove as many of the men as we could out of that helicopter," Jason remembered. "And I couldn't participate in that. I knew my -- I knew Nathan was in there. I tried several times to kind of gather myself, but I just -- I couldn't."

Jason says as the men carried bodies out of the wreckage, he spotted his younger brother. "At one point they did carry Nathan by me. And that's when the reality, the complete reality, and complete understanding of the situation came to me and I began dealing with it."

Under the Department of Defense sole survivor policy, Jason says he was told he will not be allowed to return to war. His wife and young son will join him at his base in Hawaii.
The Hubbards gave up two of their sons to the Iraq war, and the third had to see his brother's body pulled from the wreckage in which he died. Maybe, just maybe, they carry quite a burden themselves.

I read an article about the Hubbards yesterday in People magazine, which was supposed to be a disposable purchase for a train journey into the city. Well, the magazine was—but the story about the Hubbards was not. Mr. Hubbard spoke about playing solitaire at night to keep himself from going mad; Mrs. Hubbard spoke about trying to find happiness again, but always feeling the void left by her two lost sons. I doubt they would describe the last seven years as joyful. It occurred to me I was reading about them in the same magazine where Bush had noted he sleeps "a lot better than people would assume."

Bush carries the responsibility for the lives of those boys, but their family carries the unbearable weight of their loss. The former is an abstraction; the second is a giant hole in one's heart.

I wish Mr. Cheney could acknowledge the difference—but I suppose having a heart is a prerequisite for understanding a broken one.

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