Morning Report 8/23/05
Bush Counts on a Safe Crowd

But he can't count high enough

Paul Morse/White House

All smiles: Above, Bush basks in the warmth of carefully placed star-struck Utah National Guard soldiers after his speech Monday to the VFW Convention in Salt Lake. Not pictured is Sgt. Ronald T. Wood (below), a Utah National Guard member who was blown up by a roadside bomb on July 16 in Kirkuk.
Greenwell/Utah National Guard

George W. Bush finally escaped from his vacation and found a cheering audience Monday in Utah. But then he went and blew it by misunderestimating the number of dead soldiers in Iraq.

Like the terrorists in Iraq, Bush is picking his spots for forays into the U.S. heartland to try to promote the absurd war his regime started.

You'll see him in places like Salt Lake City. Utah's National Guard has suffered "only" four casualties during Bush's War of Terror (WOT?) since 9/11.

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Not many mothers in Utah like Cindy Sheehan or Mary Tillman to raise troubling questions.

You likely won't see Bush pedaling to Ohio to peddle his forever war, because that state has truly become a battleground, instead of just a media battleground.

One Marine company from Ohio — the ill-named "Lucky Lima" — has lost more soldiers to Bush's War than the entire Utah National Guard has lost.

But in Utah, at least, Bush's handlers were able to try out some new strategies. One weapon of mass distraction that his advisers have found and are deploying is to start actually giving out numbers. As Peter Wallsten noted this morning in the Los Angeles Times:

    Speaking Monday to a friendly audience at the annual convention of Veterans of Foreign Wars, Bush offered a rare presidential tally of the fallen U.S. soldiers in Iraq — more than 1,800 at the time of his appearance.

    Bush did not mention Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a slain soldier who has led the protests near his Texas vacation property. But his reference to the dead troops and their grieving families was an apparent acknowledgment that Sheehan and other parents allied with her have proven to be formidable foes in the battle for public opinion.

    "We have lost 1,864 members of our armed forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom and 223 in Operation Enduring Freedom," Bush said, referring to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Each of these men and women left grieving families and loved ones back home."

The Bush regime's strategy of sending the POTUS on carefully crafted speaking tours worked during the 2004 election campaign. It's not likely to work these days.

Wallsten's story, like an increasing number of mainstream media accounts, points out the likewise increasing number of absurdities gushing like so much blood from the Cheney/Rumsfeld administration's poor handling of a bad idea. The bad idea I'm referring to is the unjustified diversion of our war on terrorists to invade Iraq on behalf of oil companies, defense contractors, and Israel's right-wing government. This paragraph in Wallsten's story is what I'm talking about:

    Further illustrating the conundrum for the administration, the death toll in Iraq had risen by the end of the day, surpassing the number Bush gave by at least five.

For you numb and number numbers-crunchers, as of 10 this morning EDT, according to my Backwards Bush keychain, the president has 1,245 days left in office.

If you want to count along with Bush as he continues his War on Dead Soldiers' Mothers tour, consult the Defense Department's up-to-the-day casualty report.

As of 10 this morning EDT, 1,863 U.S. soldiers and five DOD civilian contractors had died during "Operation Iraqi Freedom," according to Rumsfeld's agency.

Bush didn't point out to his audience at the VFW convention in Salt Lake another DOD factoid that's updated daily: As of 10 this morning, 92.3 percent of those 1,868, or 1,724, have died in "post combat ops." That is, since Bush, bulging with pride, declared "Mission accomplished!" on May 1, 2003.

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