Monday's Washington Times offers a little taste of the brain poison we'd be forced to choke down every day from every newspaper if the government actually did control the media.
Here, if you can believe it, are the opening paragraphs of a story headlined "Bush, Cheney comforted troops privately":
"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."
Well, kudos to the Washington Times for breaking this story wide open. Clearly, the Bush/Cheney people, who have so modestly kept this "clandestine operation" under wraps for so many years, must be furious that this story is now public. What an unhelpful distraction at a time when the president and vice president are busy with a worldwide campaign to convince us that they have not been nearly as awful as the facts would lead us to believe.
Before I ramp back up, let's just acknowledge something. For some of our maimed veterans and some of the families whose loved ones have died in these Bush/Cheney wars, a chat with the president or a barbecue at the vice president's residence may have provided some authentic comfort. I'm not here to dispute that. I'm not here to tell anyone who took comfort from meeting the president that they got duped.
These people deserve to heal.
But the president and vice president do not deserve to heal. Not yet. Maybe not ever. Not until they do the minimum that decency requires: apologize for the deceit and incompetence that has cost so many brave young men and women their lives, their limbs, their simple ability to sleep without hellish nightmares.
The president's own healing is what these meetings sometimes end up being about. As Bush (aka "the comforter in chief") told the Washington Times, "it's amazing, the comforter in chief oftentimes is the comforted person - comforted because of their strength, comforted because of their devotion, comforted because of their love for their family member. And a lot of them said, Mr. President, please know that my child wanted to do this."
According to the Washington Times, meetings with families "allowed the president to step out of the bubble that often surrounds him, to meet real people."
Real people? Without a doubt. Randomly chosen real people whose raw grief and hunger for answers might pose some threat of bursting the president's bubble? Almost certainly not.
Randomly chosen real people is not what this stage-managed presidency has been about. Just look at Bush's phony, invitation-only "town hall meetings."
The Washington Times article is worth reading -- if only for the insight it provides into the way our current president thinks. Here, again, is a link to it.
I'll close with one last Bush quote from the article. But before I do, a dictionary definition of the word "comfort."
"TRANSITIVE VERB: 1. To soothe in time of affliction or distress. 2. To ease physically; relieve.
"NOUN: 1. A condition or feeling of pleasurable ease, well-being, and contentment. 2. Solace in time of grief or fear. 3. Help; assistance: gave comfort to the enemy. 4. One that brings or provides comfort. 5. The capacity to give physical ease and well-being: enjoying the comfort of my favorite chair. 6. Chiefly Southern & Lower Northern U.S. A quilted bedcover; a comforter."
And now that Bush quote from the article:
"'The definition of comfort is very interesting. Comfort means hug, comfort means cry, comfort means smile, comfort means listen. Comfort also means, in many cases, assure the parent or the spouse that any decision made about troops in combat will be made with victory in mind, not made about my personal standing in the polls or partisan politics.'"
The man just doesn't get it. I wonder if he ever will. If he ever does, his torment will be of biblical proportions.
He'll have my pity.
As soon as he apologizes.