His global appetite expanding, Bush orders up some Devil Dogs
Admittedly not much of a reader, George W. Bush flexed his lexicomical muscles yesterday by expanding the definition of “terrorist” to include anybody who fights back when his or her country is occupied by the U.S.
The new definition surfaced in the president’s remarks to Marines in Camp Pendleton, where, as the Washington Post‘s Jim VandeHei wrote this morning, Bush “sought to boost U.S. troop morale and prepare the public for a violent run-up to next month’s election in Iraq.” The story quoted Bush as saying:
The Devil Dogs at Pendleton cheered. But more and more, the mainstream press’s reporters are closely examining the U.S. emperor’s new clothes and noting any appearance/reality alterations higher and higher in their stories. VandeHei, whose paper is leading the way among big dailies, puts Bush’s remarks into perspective succinctly:
The president has steadfastly demanded that Iraq’s election take place on Jan. 30, despite objections from some Iraqi leaders, and the Pentagon recently announced that U.S. forces would grow to 150,000 to safeguard the voting process and stabilize the country. To expand the force, Bush extended the stay of thousands of soldiers who had planned to be home for the holidays. Some soldiers are suing to prevent the Army from forcing them to serve longer than their enlistment contracts require.
VandeHei also notes that Pendleton, in Southern California, “is one of the most active U.S. bases: More than 21,000 soldiers from its 1st Marine Expeditionary Force alone are serving in Iraq.” So Bush had a busy day. At one point, feeling hungry, the president ordered three Devil Dogs to go. So the four of them went to eat (see photo).
Bush didn’t lose his appetite for recounting others’ war stories. As the story by permanently embedded reporter Donna Miles of Armed Forces Press Service put it:
At least not the way Bush hid from his National Guard duties. It’s laughable the way Bush and his cronies, often wearing fancy little pseudo-uniforms, cozy up to the common troops, pretending to be right there in the trenches carrying out ridiculous orders—like the one that diverted our troops from Afghanistan so we could invade Iraq.
For a realistic view about what the Marines do—and what it does to them—read this very recent Voice piece, “Dead-Check in Fallujah,” by Evan Wright, who was embedded with Devil Dogs there and elsewhere in Iraq and checked in with them after they returned to the U.S.
Wright’s book, Generation Kill: Devil Dogs, Iceman, Captain America and the New Face of American War, gets high praise in the new issue of the New York Review of Books. Here’s a passage from the book that reviewer Chris Hedges (a New York Times reporter) highlighted—and that Wright put in his Voice story in slightly different form:
Hedges calls the book “a withering indictment of the needless brutality of the invasion.” He also recognizes Wright’s ability to go beyond that:
I agree with that part of Hedges’ assessment because I edited Wright’s story for the Voice. (Full disclosure: Wright did such a fine job that I barely had to lift my pencil to help get his kick-ass account into print.)
Bush doesn’t read newspapers, so he missed Wright’s Voice story. He surely doesn’t read the NYRB, which is at the head of the class in coverage of the Bush Error. The only book we’re certain Bush has read, because he did so on 9/11 with a bunch of Florida school kids, is The Pet Goat. For those reasons, I guess, the president seems to have missed the news that Pakistan has given up on the search for bin Laden (see Sunday’s Morning Report for details and links) and that no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq. Because this is what Bush told the Marines yesterday:
Maybe Bush’s speechwriters gave him the wrong piece of paper. Knock, knock. Who’s there? Anybody? What? Huh?
But drawing on his experience as a New England prep-school cheerleader, Bush hot-dogged his way around the Marine base and accomplished his mission. He laid it on thick—with relish.
Bush praised the Marines for their “valor and integrity” and their “courage, determination, and devotion to duty,” called people in uniform “one of America’s greatest blessings,” sympathized that “being left behind when a loved one goes to war is one of the hardest jobs in the military, and it is especially hard during the holidays,” thanked military families for “carrying out these burdens—you also serve your country,” told them that “America is grateful for your service,” promised “the best possible medical care for every American servicemember wounded in action,” and consoled the families by saying:
It’s clear that quite a few Devil Dogs are going to be chewed up and spit out right through the rest of the Zero Decade—without a doubt. VandeHei again puts things in context, with the kind of final analytical twist that you’ll be seeing a lot more of in the mainstream press’s news stories: