CHARACTER IS WHAT YOU DO WHEN NO ONE IS LOOKING ... AND THEN REVEAL IN A CAREFULLY TIMED MEDIA ROLLOUT
I see that it's Compassion for the Troops Day on the Bush-Cheney Self-Justification Legacy Tour. From The Washington Times:
EXCLUSIVE: 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.
... the size and scope of Mr. Bush's and Mr. Cheney's private endeavors to meet with wounded soliders and families of the fallen far exceed anything that has been witnessed publicly, according to interviews with more than a dozen officials familiar with the effort.
...Mr. Bush, for instance, has sent personal letters to the families of every one of the more than 4,000 troops who have died in the two wars, an enormous personal effort that consumed hours of his time and escaped public notice....
Yeah -- I'm sure that made a serious dent in his mountain biking schedule.
...Mr. Cheney similarly has hosted numerous events, even sneaked away from the White House or his Naval Observatory home to meet troops at hospitals or elsewhere without a hint to the news media.
For instance, Mr. Cheney flew to North Carolina late last month and met with 500 special-operations soldiers for three hours on a Saturday night at a golf resort. The event was so secretive that the local newspaper didn't even learn about it until three days after it happened.
Mr. Cheney and his wife, Lynne, also have hosted more than a half-dozen barbecues at their Naval Observatory home for wounded troops recovering at Bethesda Naval Hospital and Walter Reed and their spouses and children....
Hmmmm ... half a dozen? You mean, approximately one a year since he and Junior started sending these kids to Hell for no reason? Approximately one barbecue for every 700 U.S. troop deaths? Wow, that's generous.
Then again, we're talking about the concept of being comforted by Dick and Lynne Cheney. I think I need to take a shower.
The Times story describes the task, for Bush at least, as "wrenching," but it's obvious that Bush loves doing this -- loves crying, loves having people feel grateful to him, loves being (as he describes himself) the "comforter in chief." Asked to talk about it, he goes into a sort of fugue state:
The definition of comfort is very interesting. Comfort means hug, comfort means cry, comfort means smile, comfort means listen.
That "Pet Goat" story must really be seared into Bush's consciousness -- he seems to be improvising a children's picture book off the top of his head. It doesn't rhyme yet, but it's just a first draft.
Oh, and as for that comforter-in-chief thing, Bush says:
...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.
Yeah, it's just so wrenching for Bush to keep meeting people who go out of their way to make him feel appreciated and wanted. What a sacrifice to have to endure all that positive regard.
This is accompanied in the WashTimes by a sidebar in which Laura is interviewed. Among other things, she says:
I'm very aware of how emotional it is and how draining it is for the president and for me, too. Both of us. But I think we do support each other, not by saying anything so much but just by the comfort of each other's presence, both when we are with the families and then afterwards when we are alone.
Hmmm ... you've got each other, two kids (both still of fighting age) who are alive and able to walk and not suffering from traumatic brain injury, plus that nice new $3 million home? Buck up, Laura. I think you'll manage to endure.
UPDATE: Well, perhaps it's a three-day Compassion for the Troops weekend -- I see that Kimberley Strassel had an interview with Bush in The Wall Street Journal on Saturday in which she carefully noted his many visits with the families of deceased servicemembers, while also carefully noting that "he does not bring it up to me." Yes, Kimberley, I'm sure you just happened to think of it all by your lonesome, just as the reporters at The Washington Times did. I'm sure there was no prompting whatsoever from anyone in Bushworld.