Monday, February 06, 2006

The courge of soldiers and the cowardice of a president

On the day before President Bush's eminently disposable State of the Union speech, I heard a story that I'll never forget. It was told by Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, who was addressing a small audience in Washington. A military helicopter pilot from Iowa, serving in Iraq, was killed when he noticed a ground-to-air missile headed his way and, in a split-second reaction, swerved his chopper so that he and his co-pilot would take the hit and his 18 passengers would be spared. Vilsack placed a condolence call to the widow, who stopped him in midsentence. "I think about it this way," the woman said. "Those 18 men needed my husband more in that split second than I'll need him for the rest of my life."

Vilsack, who is probably running for President—and should be—used the story to illustrate the sacrifice and sense of community that is at the heart of a successful democracy. The current Administration, he said, "is ripping away at the fabric of the American community." The story lingered as I listened to Bush once again ask nothing from the American people in his speech and, worse, issue his annual call for lower taxes.

***

Perhaps Democrats should nickname estate-tax repeal the Paris Hilton Empowerment Project. Whatever you call it, it is an obscenity to ask nothing of heiresses while helicopter pilots are giving everything.
Joe Klein in Time magazine. Read the rest. An unpretentious column that simply exposes the shallow politics of our callow president.

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