The anecdote appears in a Washington Post front-page story this morning about the president's private feelings regarding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
[Hildi] Halley, 41, lost her husband, National Guard Capt. Patrick Damon, also 41, in June in Afghanistan to what officially was ruled a heart attack. When Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) called to offer condolences and asked if she could do anything, Halley requested a telephone call from the president. Instead, when he came to Maine to visit his parents in Kennebunkport, the White House invited her to meet him at a school.
When Bush walked in, Halley told him about Patrick, how they had met at American University, moved to Maine and had a family. "After I spoke about my husband for quite some time, I said, 'And now he's dead. For what? Why? I've lost my soul mate.' " She asked her children, Mikayla, 14, and Jan-Christian, 12, to leave the room, then wept as she told Bush how hard life had become for them. "He started crying. I said, 'These two children do not like you and they have good reason for that. And I hold you responsible for the death of my husband.' "
Bush seemed surprised that she opposes even the war in Afghanistan, and he cited the Taliban. "And I said, 'Who put them in power?' And he got a little defensive and said, 'I'm really not here to discuss public policy with you.' And I said, 'That's probably wise, and I'm not here to talk about public policy, either.' "
Bush said he hoped their meeting helped her healing. "You know what would help my healing?" she recalled responding. "If you change your policies in the Mideast." Bush smiled, she said, but did not reply.
Halley said the meeting did not change either of their minds. She would still vote against him. But she said she appreciated that he opened himself up to her. "I don't think he's a heartless man," she said. "I think he's pulled in a lot of different directions by very intelligent people. . . . I don't think it's going to change his policies, but I hope it does make him think about it. I hope I'm in his dreams."
Who allowed Bush to come into contact with a real, non-pre-screened American, and do they still have a job? It's unfortunate that this doesn't seem to happen more often.
Only Crocodie tears frm a hard heart
The situation in Afghanistan might be more stable if this administration hadn't "cut and run", and had allowed the armed forces to finish their mission there--to get Osama bin Laden, who remains a rallying point for Islamic jihadists the world over.
Rather than carefully staged photo ops, I'd like to see Bush confront the family of Pat Tillman, the player for the Arizona Cardinals who quit his career and became an Army Ranger, only to be killed in Afghanistan by friendly fire. I'd like to see him explain why the Army lied to Tillman's family about his death, waiting weeks to tell them the truth--which included the fact that U.S. soldiers went so far as to burn his uniform and body armour.
Then, I'd really like to see a grieving family member lambaste Bush (in person) for the incompetent way this administration has executed the war in Iraq, just the way Bill Clinton slammed Chris Wallace when Fox News sandbagged him about Osama bin Laden.
Democrats would have never gone to Afganistan in the first place
It should be interesting how history handles this. After Viet Nam, history started to uncover different aspects of LBJ's emotions to the war. However history handles this, hopefully the end is near and fewer people will lose their loved ones.
For people opposed to a military response in Afghanistan, I wonder what approach they'd have pursued in response to 9/11?
Negotiate the demands that include wiping Israel off the map?
And even beyond Isreal, what about Al-Qiada's terrorism in other places that have nothing to do with Palestine, such as India?
If anyone reads their declaration of war against the U.S. they issued in 1996 it will be seen that the Palestine issue is a relatively small part of the reason they announced at that point that U.S. civilians are fair game to their cold blooded murder.
It's just too vague to say "the solution is to change our Mid-East policies and don't pin me down with specifics".
At least if someone advocates instead of a military response to Afghanistan that he or she wants us to have either a pacifist or isolationist type response (or even an appeasement position), but is clear and consistent about their position and not hide behind red herrings then I can have much more respect even while disagreeing. Very sledom is that the case however, most critics won't give details about that they favor - they'll either change the subject or change the focus to 20 years ago.
I'm sick of people justifying the U.S. warmongering in the middle east on the basis of Israel's safety. Who cares if Israel gets wiped off the map. After watching them bomb Lebanon to smithereens I, quite frankly, don't give a damn.
911 an inside job.
All your conversations are based on lies and completely worthless!!!
It's interesting how all the Bush backers are so quick to point out how "justified" all the American and Iraqi deaths are.
"What's that, your husband died? Your son died? Too bad for you, but it's totally worth it to me."
when Bush sends his daughters to Iraq to fight then I'll believe he thinks he's doing the right thing.
he cut & run from Afghanistan where the real 9/11 terrorist organizers were to go after Saddam ... Saddam threatened his father. Halliburton is getting rich ... we won the war in Iraq when we got Saddam & WMD so why are we still there? How long does it take to learn aim a gun and kill your enemies to protect your country? that's the Iraqi's job. We've lost more good patriotic Americans in Afg & Iraq than we did on 9/11. enough is enough. And now our Americans are being charged with murder??
All the soldiers and civilians that died to get us to where we are today. Their loved ones, I am sure, felt the sacrifice was to great. And listening to you all wringing your hands - I'm beginning to think maybe they are right. You should all be subjects to some British Lord.
All the soldiers and civilians that died to get us to where we are today
So they died for your benefit, eh? What a beautiful sentiment.
The Democrats will egt us all killed if they ever get back into power. Bush kills the Terrorist. Thank God George Bush is our President. Clinton was busy being "serviced" in the Oval Office while terrorists were plotting to kill 3,000 of our citizens.
How many of you who have commented here have served our country? My husband is retired Army and was hoping to go over and fight in the WAR. What happened on 9/11, to the USS Cole, the WTC in 93, it all makes him angry. His job is to protect this country. When one joins the military, they say an oath that includes stating they are will in defend and die for this counrty. These defenders of our country get paid much less than the average American and yet many stay in to serve 20 plus years. What does that tell you? Before you are so quick to bash the government, military and our President (Dem or Rep), join the military. Then you will have a leg to stand on.
Wait a second, I'm confused. She said 'I hold you responsible for the death of my husband', yet it was officially ruled a heart attack. So, which is it? Did President Bush actually cause this man's heart attack? Did he actually give her husband coronary heart disease? GASP!
YES HER HUSBAND IS DEAD. This is unfortunate. However I am tired of all these people bitching, he chose his career, he chose his path, PERIOD. All these mothers and wives can't wait and voice their oppinions after something terrible happens. If it is anyones fault it is there owns!
I think blaming Bush for her husband's death is rather a stretch. He was a volunteer soldier and did his duty. He died of a heart attack. Could have happened anywhere.
How many of you who have commented here have served our country? It's amazing that 90% of the people who have never truly given up something for this country other than $1.95 for a sticker, are the first ones to tell me, who have donated more tha 21 years of my life to the military what we are for!!
The military is present to serve the president of the United States, true..but more importantly, to protect the Constitution of the United States! Don't forget the 2nd part, Against all enemies, foreign and domestic!
What happens when our own President takes away those Constitutionally Guaranteed provisions and substitutes his own lesser values, ie the ATT fiasco, lying to the people.
The President's job is not just to protect the United States, but Support it. Meaning to support its current laws, not to overthrow them.
Many military people DON'T support the President, however, they are forced to do the job, as they should be. BUT don't group them together as supporting this President.
What is supposed to happen, when the President breaks the law? Why hasn't it happened yet? Clearly, this President has broken numerous laws, international, U.S. Laws, Constitutional laws, and who knows how many others. He is only protected by fringe personnel who claim to be against terrorism. But it is these very people who are our worst enemy...
Terroristic goals are to force the Government to change their policies through the use of terror and fear!
These people who support this president, have supported the end goal of Terrorism, by changing and weakening our very policy which makes us a free country.
Who cares if Israel gets wiped off the map. After watching them bomb Lebanon to smithereens I, quite frankly, don't give a damn.
Although I totally disagree with Josh's point of view expressed above, I do respect that at least he's presenting a coherent, consistent alternative to the current approach. He's not trying to duck the consequences or muddy the waters, as I think so many people do who simply oppose all military action against al-Qaeda without offering specific alternatives or stating what *realistic* consequences they're willing to accept as Josh did.
I think Afghani President Karzi gave a tremenous answer in Washington today when a reporter asked about whether fighting back is the best approach:
KARZAI: Ma'am, before I go to the remarks by my brother, President Musharraf, terrorism was hurting us way before Iraq or September 11. The president mentioned some examples of it.
These extremist forces were killing people in Afghanistan and around for years, closing schools, burning mosques, killing children, uprooting vineyards with vine trees, grapes hanging on them, forcing populations to poverty and misery.
They came to America on September 11, but they were attacking you before September 11 in other parts of the world.
We are a witness in Afghanistan as to what they are and how they can hurt. You are a witness in New York.
Do you forget people jumping off the 80th floor or 70th floor when the planes hit them? Can you imagine what it will be for a man or a woman to jump off that high?
Who did that? And where are they now? And how do we fight them, how do we get rid of them, other than going after them? Should we wait for them to come and kill us again?
That's why we need more action around the world, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, to get them defeated. Extremism, their allies, terrorists and the likes of them.
Vince says, "The situation in Afghanistan might be more stable if this administration hadn't "cut and run" ..."
NATO and the UN are in control of Afghanistan, not this administration, and I believe you know this, but take the opportunity to pander to ignorance in order to ooze more Leftist/Democrat bile. Osama bin Laden is either dead, or the most cowardly of all Islamic human sacrificing cave men (literally.) He is NOT in any way effective as a "leader" of al Qaeda.
Besides, and as all the world can see, except Leftist/Democrats, "Islamic Jihad" comes with many different names; today it is "Iran," while yesterday it was Hezbollah, Hamas and whatever other name is in the news at the moment. Isolating al Qaeda as the only dangerous sect of Islam is either projection, or a total lack of respect for the intelligence of your fellow man.
Iraq was seriously destabilising Afghanistan, and Saddam was offering incentives for resistence in Afghanistan and providing a bounty on the life of ANY US citizen, and money for the sabotage of US/NATO equipment or facilities -- and you know that very well, too, but ignore (once again) it for partisan propaganda; virtual lies.
"... I'd like to see him explain why the Army lied to Tillman's family about his death, waiting weeks to tell them the truth--which included the fact that U.S. soldiers went so far as to burn his uniform and body armour."
However mistakenly, I think they wanted to avoid the rankorous, unsympathetic and divisive use that pissant politicians and their stooges would attempt to use of it -- attempting to demean and revile the military, this administration, and anyone who supported our NATO involvement in Afghanistan -- you runningaway-yellow-dog-democrats, for example.
"Then, I'd really like to see a grieving family member lambaste Bush (in person) for the incompetent way this administration has executed the war in Iraq, just the way Bill Clinton slammed Chris Wallace when Fox News sandbagged him about Osama bin Laden."
I liked the way Clinton continued to lie about every single thing he said to Chris Wallace and which ANYONE can confirm for themselves by reading ANY rightwing blog on the internet!!!
You in-step, propaganda parroting, Leftist/Democrats couldn't tell the truth if your very existences depended on it!
Kryptowizard says, "What happens when our own President takes away those Constitutionally Guaranteed provisions and substitutes his own lesser values, ie the ATT fiasco, lying to the people."
I was in the military as a career. I was sent to Vietnam to fight a communist aggressor intent on using violence to force their political will on a free nation. Johnson sent me in a buildup of Kennedy's war.
Know what? We listened to calls coming from overseas into the United States and monitored without warrant, those who were contacted by our enemies. The phone companies cooperated with the government and assisted in programs of intelligence to find out what our enemies were planning. I worked in the field, so I know...
Only now, only when it is politically convenient, are Leftist/Democrats complaining about programs which have existed since Vietnam (even before) in order to gain from vilifying and defaming this war, our military and intelligence organizations and operations.
Why are you? You claim to have been in the service for 21 years, but still attempt to misdirect and lie about it for political gain. Are you just another faithless ex-serviceman ready to turn on your own nation for votes?
"Many military people DON'T support the President, however, they are forced to do the job, as they should be. BUT don't group them together as supporting this President."
BS, there aren't many who don't support our president. Even those who aren't of the same party as the president support him because that is their duty! It is also the duty for them to abide by lawful orders and disoby those that aren't! They continue to do so because Leftist/Democrat leadership still supports this war by FINANCING IT!
Leftist/Democrats who whine and moan about our military, this administration and the war on terror are acting out as HYPOCRITES!!!
You should be reviling and defaming Pelosi and your own leadership!
At least the war protestors during Vietnam were honest enough to do that: protest their own party -- today's "peace protestors" are faithless liars and slavishly support their leadership.
"Clearly, this President has broken numerous laws, international, U.S. Laws, Constitutional laws, and who knows how many others."
I just don't believe you were ever in the military. You are attempting to be a stalking horse soldier, but actually come off more as an ass of one.
Hola, I just want to make clear that there is another Vince commenting here. Im in Buenos Aires now, but I will continue to comment under my full name, wherever I am.
And the asado is still on.
There are some people whose thoughts are not clear. NATO and the U.N. were not in control of Afghanistan when the U.S. sent troops to deal with Osama bin Laden. Ask Karzai.
I'd like to know who "isolated al- Qaeda as the only dangerous sect of Islam". It certainly wasn't me. I have better things to do. My comment never mentioned al-Qaeda. Besides, any clear-thinking person understands that al-Qaeda is not a 'sect' of Islam at all.
Let others criticise what I say. I'm going out into the world to see what's really going on.
Vince says, "There are some people whose thoughts are not clear. NATO and the U.N. were not in control of Afghanistan when the U.S. sent troops to deal with Osama bin Laden. Ask Karzai."
Unreal! The Afghan invasion was NATO and Afghanistan was under UN sanction, at the time. The attack was to "get" Osama and to depose the Taliban. Why don't you even bother to look at Wikipedia or some other information source before spouting nonsense?
"I'd like to know who "isolated al- Qaeda as the only dangerous sect of Islam"."
Only the Leftist/Democrats are intent on isolating the War on Terrorism into discrete, seperate "wars." They INSIST that Osama bin Laden is the principle reason for any action after 9/11. They literally IGNORE that Saddam was actively destabilising Afghanistan, threatening our NATO partners, sending arms and ammunition to other terrorists organizations (really just other "branches" of Islamic Jihad.)
They hope to sow defeatism and pander to ignorance in order to defame and revile this administration. They hope to PROFIT FROM THIS WAR BY CAUSING OUR FAILURE IN IRAQ and the War on Terrorism, in general.
"... My comment never mentioned al-Qaeda. Besides, any clear-thinking person understands that al-Qaeda is not a 'sect' of Islam at all."
More obtuse misdirections -- because you certainly know what is meant by the term "sect of Islam!" It is a self-named group of Muslim fascists whose goal is the spread of Islam by violence and the ultimate genocide of any human being who won't convert to their hateful religion!
Hamas, Hezbollah, PLA/PLO, al Qaeda and a dozen other self-named Islamic terrorist organizations ALL have the same barbaric, neolithic goal ...
... and you know that very well, too, but your partisan bias and bigotry leads you to pretend otherwise ...
Disgusting show of anti-intellectualism!
Your lomo is getting cold.
May the baby Jesus shut your mouth and open your mind.
From the Family Dog
This is precisely why we should not invade the Sudan.
People might die.
I hope those of you who think Bush has no feelings or understanding of the pain are reading this.