Thursday, May 06, 2004

Ann Coulter and other conservatives complain about pro-liberal, pro-Democratic bias in various media outlets, but it's really hard to recall any "straight news" story in the mainstream media that cast a sitting Democratic officeholder in as favorable a light as this Cincinnati Enquirer story:

Bush pauses to comfort teen: 'This girl lost her mom in the World Trade Center on 9-11'

During his visit to the Golden Lamb Inn in Lebanon, President Bush stops to hug Ashley Faulkner, who lost her mom in the Sept. 11 attacks.

In a moment largely unnoticed by the throngs of people in Lebanon waiting for autographs from the president of the United States, George W. Bush stopped to hold a teenager's head close to his heart.

Lynn Faulkner, his daughter, Ashley, and their neighbor, Linda Prince, eagerly waited to shake the president's hand Tuesday at the Golden Lamb Inn. He worked the line at a steady campaign pace, smiling, nodding and signing autographs until Prince spoke:

"This girl lost her mom in the World Trade Center on 9-11."

Bush stopped and turned back.

"He changed from being the leader of the free world to being a father, a husband and a man," Faulkner said. "He looked right at her and said, 'How are you doing?' He reached out with his hand and pulled her into his chest."

Faulkner snapped one frame with his camera.

"I could hear her say, 'I'm OK,' " he said. "That's more emotion than she has shown in 21/2 years. Then he said, 'I can see you have a father who loves you very much.' "

"And I said, 'I do, Mr. President, but I miss her mother every day.' It was a special moment."...

If you haven't clicked on the link, click on it -- you have to see the photo.

Now, a word about Lynn Faulkner. He's a grieving 9/11 widower, yes, but he's a politicized 9/11 widower, on the conservative side.

A while back, he criticized both Democrats and Republicans: "...Bill Clinton and President Bush, they had to know that additional attacks would follow and that the only way to keep terrorists ... out of our country was to screen the people who seek to enter...'' He became a director of the anti-immigration group 9/11 Families for a Secure America.

More recently, his political focus seems to have changed somewhat. He was heard calling Rush Limbaugh to defend Bush ads that included 9/11 imagery. And now he happens to catch Bush at a campaign appearance and happens to capture on film the moving moment when Bush hugs his daughter.

Look, there's nothing wrong with a 9/11 widower becoming a visible Bush supporter -- except that when survivors of 9/11 victims criticized Bush, they were denounced by conservatives ("their sense of victims' entitlement") and the press was admonished to remind an easily duped public that their agenda was partisan. And this despite the fact that none are showing up at Kerry rallies or defending Kerry in the media.

It's interesting that Faulkner got through to the well-protected Bush and managed to snap the hug picture. It's also interesting that the meeting occurred at "the place [Lynn Faulkner] and his wife, Wendy Faulkner, celebrated their anniversary every year until she died," according to the Enquirer. And I imagine it's usually not that easy to get through to Rush.

So maybe Lynn Faulkner is now part of the campaign, now part of the Republican machine, but nobody wants to say so overtly. That wouldn't be the worst thing -- if there hadn't been so many right-wingers claiming that the Bush skeptics among the 9/11 widows have a sinister agenda.

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