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August 25, 2006

Bush tells war widow he's "not going to have a philosophical debate over politics"

War widows take note, when the president deigns to give you a private audience, know your place. Your job is to be hugged, and that's it.

Be warned that you must not, under any circumstances, take advantage of your face time with the prez to ask serious intellectual questions.

"He said, `Terrorists killed three thousand people, we had to go to war.'" Halley continued to me. "I said, `Well, who put the Taliban into power? The United States did.' He said, `I'm not going to have a philosphical debate over politics.'

Obviously, if the Big Man wanted an abstract moral discourse, he would have gone to your husband's funeral and listened to the pastor.

Remember, grieving widows, even if the president gets you alone in a room, it's not about you, or your "arguments" about the duties Christians who commit nearly unforgivable sins but who retain the power to mitigate harms to innocents, if only they can transcend their bitter egos and walk in the footsteps of Jesus.

You're hugmeat. Got it?


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I was going to make a joke about "hugmeat" (like that neologism; is that yours, Lindsay?) until I clicked the 'private audience' link to the original story and read what Ms. Halley said to Bush. I applaud her courage for being so direct with the President (if only he had advisors who were that strong instead of being surrounded by yes-men and women), and I can also empathize with the loss of her loved one.

It's easy to say Bush is a simpleton, mainly because that's what he is. But he's not a total simpleton. I don't think Bush is a good enough actor to cry on command, so he must be able to sympathize (if not empathize) with people at some level ("He cried with me," she recounted), yet he seems unable to make the connection between her loss and his shitty decisions. Or else he was moved to tears by feeling sorry for himself - a distinct possibility. "It's so hard to be the Messiah", he might be thinking to himself as he gets leaky-eyed.

I guess I'll never fully understand that motherfucker, but he's still a motherfucker all the same.

That's actually one of the most disspiriting things I've read.

Even if he did not want to answer, he could have said, "you forget that I was not president in the 1990's."

That might be still a tactless thing to say but to simply refuse to 'engage' is just plain mean.

Not for nothing, but the US didn't "put the Taliban in power" either. The US, under the finger-wagging Saint Jimmy Carter, supported those who fought the Soviet puppet government in Afghanistan, and the Taliban ultimatly won the power struggle that came a good while after that.

You can say that the US should have let the Russians keep Afghanistan, that the US should not have aided some of those who fought the Russians, but to say that we "put the Taliban in power" are the words of someone without a clue.

Bush's response was not elegant, but at least he didn't patronize her by treating her comment as a serious one.

"Hugmeat" is mine.

You treat other people with respect by engaging with their arguments. Patronizing is saying "I'm not going to have this discussion with you. Let's weep."

If the POTUS started crying in front of me, I'd start to cry, too--except not for the same reason as him.

Ms. Halley is very brave.

No, the U.S. did put the Taliban in power in Afghanistan. It wasn't like the CIA sat down and said, "Gee, who should run Afghanistan. I know, those toothless bearded fanatics we've been giving millions of dollars to, lo this past decade or so!"

On the other hand, the CIA used the Taliban and every other means at its disposal to bring down the Afghan government, even after the Berlin Wall had fallen and the Soviets had relinquished all claim to Afghanistan. Typical blinkered American ignorance and naive optimism. The CIA just never considered who was going to run Afghanistan after they won their Cold War skirmish.

Hey, he talked to a person who disagrees with him. You have to respect the learning curve - he finally learned to veto instead of issue a signing statement, and now he realizes that he has to talk to people outside his echo chamber. At this rate, by mid-2008 he'll start talking to people outside his echo chamber about politics, too.

Hugmeat... nice. Maybe I've just had a few too many but damn, you're killing me. Heheh.

Shorter Phantom: any excuse to snottily condescend to those I disagree with is just fine with me.

No, the U.S. didn't directly put the Taliban regime in power, but they wouldn't have gotten there without our help. Similarly, we didn't put Saddam directly in power, but he and the Ba'ath party wouldn't have gotten there without the CIA-sponsored coups of 1963 and '68. In twenty years time perhaps, we'll be able the have a fine discussion about the historical roots of the monsters atop the Islamic Republic of Iraq.

And regarding our Leader's historical sense: in the past he's referred to the brutal subjugation of the Phillipines in the early 20thc. as a friendly act, and more recently described France's colonial history in Lebanon as "a close relationship". I doubt he knows anything more about the roots of the Taliban than what his handlers tell him, and what he dearly wants to believe.

I see here and over at TPM Café we’re debating whether Hildi Halley was, or was not, full of shit by claiming we “put the Taliban into power ”. The implied argument is: we did not technically “put the Taliban into power” so this ignoramus has no leg to stand on, therefore her anger is misplaced and her grief is overblown. In other words, get your facts straight before you waste the Big Man’s time, bitch.

No, we did not “put the Taliban into power”. What we did was use the people of Afghanistan as cold war pawns. We were willing to fight the Soviet Union down to the last Afghani goat herder to contain the “Evil Empire”. Beginning with the hapless, feckless, cowardly peanut farmer from Georgia, and continuing through the robust, manly administration of King Ronald Slayer of Soviets, we piped money, guns, and, most effectively, small antiaircraft missiles to anyone in or around Afghanistan who didn’t care for Russians. Long story short, in the ensuing protracted chaos, eventually one of the warring factions, whose religious fanaticism carried a hair’s breadth more legitimacy than the nakedly cynical motives of the other factions, won.

At that point the detested Monicafucker, Bill Clinton launched a few cruise missiles at a Taliban hosted Bin Laden terrorist jamboree camp. (Bin Laden. Remember? The guy Dubya wanted “dead or alive”. The guy we were only too happy to fund as long as he was whacking commies. Remember?) Clinton of the soggy cigars tried to warn the incoming “adults” of the new administration that Bin Laden’s djellaba-clad warriors were the real McCoy, but the Bushistas were too busy concocting stories about the petulant departing Clinton swine prizing the “w” keys off all the White House computers. Forward a few months and the Bushies have rolled out the Red carpet for visiting Taliban emissaries whose remunerated help we wanted to stop, or control, the opium business.

In the days following 9/11, I’m guessing Condi walked George through the history of the recent conflict in Afghanistan and got his righteous anger whetted to a keen edge. Whereupon President “take charge” Bush climbs atop the rubble in Manhattan and bullhorns to no one in particular that no one is going to fuck with Amuricuh. Meanwhile, in a secret, undisclosed location, Cheney and the neocons are uncorking the Champaign to celebrate the new Pearl Harbor.

But I digress. Hildi Halley should just shut the fuck up.

"Hugmeat." Brilliant coinage.

The Shrub was not paying attention in civics class when they taught that the President is a public servant.

we piped money, guns, and, most effectively, small antiaircraft missiles to anyone in or around Afghanistan who didn’t care for Russians.

Especially to Saudi fanatics who were named Bin Laden.

He's the Decider. He's the Comforter. He's not the Philosophizer.

See, my best attempt would have been something like "hug fodder." But "hugmeat"--that's just exquisite. That's why Lindsay has a blog and I don't bother.

Reagan promised to rebuild Afghanistan after the Russian pullout. He didn't, and we didn't hold him to it. Any more than Bush has rebuilt NOLA, or we held him to it.

In the power vacuum that followed, - and remember that Brezhinsky bragged of having provoked the USSR to invade them in the first place and thus destroy their original weak but-attempting-to-modernize government - and in the wake of their civil war the Taliban came to power. Because they were *better* than the anarchy and constant civil war that preceded them - under folks like Gen. Dostum of the trailers.

We are as responsible as for the civil war in Iraq.

Whether or not the US put the Taliban in power is hardly the point. If President Bush doesn't feel like the US put the Taliban in power, he could have told her that, or he could have told her that regardless of who put the Taliban in power, it was his responsibility to deal with the aftermath, or he could have told her anything other than, "Go to Hell." That's not what he chose.

To return to the main topic, Bush could well be accused of love bombing, only the ploy seems even more cynical than that, since love bombing is used to recruit, and he's surely under no illusion that impoverished Katrina victims are going to vote Republican (if they are able to vote at all).

It is, however, a general Republican strategy towards those they do regard as potentially flock.

...sooo, by the US, by whomever was in charge, it still presents that the US shaped many of the Mujahdeen fighters/local warlords, some of whom eventually became the Taliban.

Bush's response to the statement from the woman who lost her husband in this preposterous war, is the issue, regardless. Where is some of that supposed down-home charm he possesses?

It just seems ridiculous to not understand the impact the United States has had, when it inserts itself into the political/social/military lives of other sovereign states.

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