Maintaining the narrative

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on November 10, 2007

Today's New York Times has an article on the meetings President Bush commonly has with the families of those who have lost loved ones in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Since this is the Times, it's no Veterans Day weekend puff piece. The head of a group of about 100 anti-war military families complains that only one of his group's members has been invited to meet with President Bush. I'm not sure if that's a conscious decision or not, but I can see some logic behind not doing that -- in a situation where you've got a lot of people mourning -- the president typically sees these people in groups -- do you really want to introduce into that environment a small number of people who viscerally hate the president? More than 4,000 U.S. servicemembers have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan; Military Families Speak Out represents about 2.5 percent of the those.

But what I really wanted to point out was this line on BDS sufferer Cindy Sheehan:

And not all the meetings are cordial; two years ago, one mother, Cindy Sheehan, emerged from her audience with Mr. Bush complaining that he had been dismissive of her, and went on to start a political crusade against the war.

Really? Is that really how she "emerged from her audience" with President Bush? From The Reporter of Vacaville, Calif., via The Wall Street Journal:

Sincerity was something Cindy had hoped to find in the meeting. Shortly after Casey died, Bush sent the family a form letter expressing his condolences, and Cindy said she felt it was an impersonal gesture.

"I now know he's sincere about wanting freedom for the Iraqis," Cindy said after their meeting. "I know he's sorry and feels some pain for our loss. And I know he's a man of faith." . . .

The trip had one benefit that none of the Sheehans expected.

For a moment, life returned to the way it was before Casey died. They laughed, joked and bickered playfully as they briefly toured Seattle.

For the first time in 11 weeks, they felt whole again.

"That was the gift the president gave us, the gift of happiness, of being together," Cindy said.

We mustn't look to closely at the glory that is St. Sheehan. The Times insists on maintaining the narrative at the cost of the truth.

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