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Bush's Idea of Sacrifice

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By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Wednesday, May 14, 2008; 1:12 PM

The nation is in despair over the war in Iraq and the toll it is taking on our troops and their families. But President Bush shows no outward sign of inner pain.

He is chipper in his public pronouncements. His weekly bike rides and daily workouts have put a perpetual spring in his step. He's always ready with a wisecrack. He just hosted his daughter's wedding at his multi-million dollar estate in Texas. He takes more vacations than any president in history. He has made clear that he doesn't lie awake at nights.

And yet now it turns out that Bush has indeed made a personal sacrifice on account of the war. According to the president yesterday, his decision to stop playing golf five years ago wasn't just an exercise in image control or a function of his bum knee -- it was an act of solidarity with the families of the dead and wounded.

Here's the relevant exchange in an interview Bush gave to Mike Allen of Politico:

Allen: "Mr. President, you haven't been golfing in recent years. Is that related to Iraq?"

Bush: "Yes, it really is. I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander-in-chief playing golf. 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."

Allen: "Mr. President, was there a particular moment or incident that brought you to that decision, or how did you come to that?"

Bush: "No, 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."

This is the latest in a series of statements by Bush, the first lady and Vice President Cheney illustrating how far removed they are from the consequences of the decision to go to war -- and stay at war.

But giving up golf?

Not only is it a hollow, trivial sacrifice at best, Bush's story doesn't hold water. While he dates his decision to abjure golf to Aug. 19, 2003 -- the day a truck bomb in Baghdad killed U.N. special representative Sergio Vieira de Mello and more than a dozen others -- the Associated Press reported on Oct. 13, 2003, that he'd spent a "cool, breezy Columbus Day" playing "a round of golf with three long-time buddies.

"Bush played at Andrews Air Force Base with Clay Johnson, Office of Management and Budget deputy director, Richard Hauser, Department of Housing and Urban Development general counsel and another friend, Mike Wood."


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