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Holes in the Memory

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By Al Kamen
Friday, May 16, 2008

President Bush has been ridiculed and chastised in the liberal blogosphere for saying he gave up golf to show solidarity with the troops fighting in Iraq.

"I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf," he said in an interview with the Politico. "I feel I owe it to the families to be as -- to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal."

Asked when he came to that conclusion, he said, "I remember when de Mello, who was at the U.N., got killed in Baghdad as a result of these murderers taking this good man's life. And I was playing golf -- I think I was in central Texas -- and they pulled me off the golf course and I said, it's just not worth it anymore to do."

The problem is that Sergio Vieira de Mello, the top U.N. envoy in Iraq at the time, was killed Aug. 19, 2003. Bush, according to news reports, was still playing two days later, when he teed off at the Crosswater Golf Course in Sunriver, Ore., during a two-day visit to the Pacific Northwest.

He also played Sept. 28 with friends at Andrews Air Force Base course and again there on Oct. 13, in honor of Columbus Day. It appears that he didn't golf after that -- at least judging from a review of media coverage since then.

This is why, especially after Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's recollections of her landing under fire in Bosnia, it's probably best for those of us of a certain age never to begin a sentence by saying: "Oh, yes, I remember distinctly, it was that moment when I was . . ."

Because the odds are, you don't.

Grip and Grin

Human rights advocates were wincing at a photo on the wires of Agency for International Development chief Henrietta Fore shaking hands and beaming with a Burmese military thug at the Rangoon airport a few days ago, shortly after the first U.S. planeload of supplies for victims of Cyclone Nargis was permitted to land.

There have been numerous reports that the military has turned around and sold the stuff or has taken it to warehouses and distributed moldy rice and the like. And the lowlifes have just started allowing a small number of international aid workers into the country to deliver the aid themselves.

Obviously, the administration had to deal with the odious regime to get any aid into Burma at all. And sure, it was worth a try sending a senior official over to try to lean on them for better access. But we're told this cheerful character is wearing the insignia of the Burmese Army's Northern Command, the guys who operate in ethnic minority areas where human rights abuses are rampant.

And the photo, with echoes of the famous shot of April Glaspie, then U.S. ambassador to Iraq, hanging with Saddam before he invaded Kuwait, creates an impression that there's some progress over there when, at least so far, there's been precious little.


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