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Bush on Vacation

Last Thursday, President Bush left to spend 32 days at his Crawford ranch on ‘retreat.’ Historically, it is the longest presidential retreat in 36 years and unprecedented during war. This will be his 49th trip to his ranch during his presidency. As of last Tuesday, Bush has spent 319 days away from office, about 20% of his presidency. The current record holder is Ronald Reagan who spent 335 days away in Santa Barbara, CA, during his presidential 8 years. Bush will surpass this record during his current vacationing and still have 3 and ½ years left of his presidency!

Everyday I read at least three separate Cincinnati news sources. Everyday, the front page has an article about a local soldier killed in Iraq. On August 3rd, an insurgent bomb killed 14 marines of the Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force. Two days before, on August 1st, 7 other soldiers of the unit were killed. Almost all of them were from Ohio.

I don’t give a damn what your political affiliation is, George W. Bush’s retreat is both disgusting and wrong. So far, he’s asked and commanded at least 150,000 Americans to risk the greatest sacrifice and put their lives in danger for American ideals. As of today, at least 1, 832 of those soldiers have made that sacrifice, according to U.S. military reports.

Why can’t Bush make simple, if not grand, sacrifices? Why isn’t he giving up his vacation time? Why isn’t he focusing his efforts on calming a continuously growing insurgency? Why isn’t he meeting with business leaders for support in getting water and electricity back to the majority of Iraqis who lost them during our invasion? Why isn’t he in Iraq spending time with and supporting the troops who are doing the fighting? If he can run the country from Crawford, TX (if you consider that ‘running the country’), why the hell can’t he do it from Iraq or Kuwait?

Last week, a freelance journalist, Steven Vincent, was kidnapped and murdered in Basra, along with his interpreter. Shortly before the tragic incident, he was part of an internet symposium titled “Iraq: A Report Card,” held by is well known for its strong right-wing stances no matter what the issue. They gave Bush an A+. Mr. Vincent who was part of the panel appears to have been the only attendee in Iraq. Historically, his views of coincided with those at This is what he said:

With respects to you and Karl, Jamie, I have to give the war effort a B-. Judging the conflict by Saddam’s removal—and thank Allah the monster is gone—is setting a pretty low bar. I mean, let’s face it: military-wise Iraq was not Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. Then you have to factor in U.S failures, such as not sealing the borders or halting the looting—not to mention the fact that American military tactics have widely alienated the very people we liberated. Something’s not working right.

But the important point is this: this conflict is not just about killing bad guys, but building a nation. True, maaku Saddam, and yes, there is a democratically-elected government, but when Baghdad lacks power and water, and the road to the airport is life-threatening crap shoot, and I can’t leave my hotel here in Basra without Iraqi protection—I can’t see much nation building going on.

Insurgents win by not losing. If they keep Iraqis living in misery, then no matter how many “insurgents” we dispatch to Paradise, Amir Zarqawi gets the prize. In assessing the war effort, then, we must also include the quality of Iraqis’s lives. Want a grade for that? F.