Talking Points by Terry M. Neal

Questioning Bush's Sacrifice for a 'Noble Cause'

By Terry M. Neal Staff Writer
Thursday, September 1, 2005; 10:18 AM

The ongoing saga of the Cindy Sheehan show has raised the specter of service and sacrifice and what it means to give to a "noble cause."

"We have lost 1,864 members of our armed forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom and 223 in Operation Enduring Freedom," President Bush told a group of veterans in Salt Lake City earlier this month, referring to the fallen troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Each of these men and women left grieving families and loved ones back home.

"We owe them something.... We will finish the task that they gave their lives for. We will honor their sacrifice by staying on the offensive against the terrorists, and building strong allies in Afghanistan and Iraq that will help us ... fight and win the war on terror."

Increasingly, though, some critics are asking who serves and whether the pain is being shared equally.

This week, the liberal Web site noted in an unsigned editorial that "not one -- not one -- of any of Bush's children or his nieces and nephews have volunteered for service in any branch of the military or volunteered to serve in any capacity in Iraq. Not one of them has felt the cause was noble enough to put his or her life on the line."

Buzzflash is circulating a petition demanding that "Either the Bush Kids Put Their Lives on the Line for George's 'Noble War' or the Troops Come Home."

Publicity stunt or not, it does raise a question. If the sacrifice is so noble, has the president urged his own children, or enlistment-age nieces and nephews - of which there are eight - to join the military and fight in Iraq?

I called the White House to pose this question and was somewhat surprised to learn that none of the supposed liberal baddies in the White House press corps had ever asked the president or any of his spokespersons that question.

Spokeswoman Dana Perino couldn't find that this question had ever been asked. She said she'd have to check and call back. And she did later Tuesday afternoon with this prepared statement: "There are many ways for people to serve their country and to help make the world a better freer and more peaceful place. The president is grateful to all of those who have answered the call to service whether it's in the military or in another capacity and members of his family have done both."

That didn't really answer the question. But we do know this: First daughter Barbara is currently working in an AIDS clinic in Botswana, while Jenna is teaching inner-city school children in D.C. The president served in the National Guard. And his father, the first president Bush, was a decorated military pilot.

Nonetheless, critics on the left are comparing Bush unfavorably to Franklin Roosevelt, whose four sons served as decorated officers in World War II.

In an ad featuring Cindy Sheehan currently running in heavy rotation across the country, Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in Iraq, looks into the camera and asks Bush if he knows "how much this hurts. I love my country. But how many more of our loved ones need to die in this senseless war?"

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