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In State of the Union Address and his new budget, President Bush is kind enough to sum up all of his terrible notions.
By RICHARD AMRHINE
The top priority, the No. 1 budget buster, is the war in Iraq. Since even the most arithmetic-challenged American would see the economic burden the war presents, the president leaves it out of his budget entirely. After all, he promised a balanced budget by 2009, and that just won't happen if you include the war billions. He can do that because he is president.
In fact, he would have us overlook not only the financial cost of the war, but its human toll as well. It has been the administration's policy to downplay the returning war dead. The president doesn't attend funerals or memorial services because of the media spotlight that accompanies him. If Americans were kept apprised of these things, they might begin to question the president's policies. Can't have that.
Defense Department figures show that 140 Americans died between the start of the war on March 20, 2003, and the president's aircraft carrier declaration on May 1, 2003, that major combat had ended. Since major combat ended, 1,309 Americans have been killed. Maybe we should be relieved because Lord knows what the toll would be if there was major combat going on.
In the meantime, the administration has acknowledged that there are apparently no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, nor is there a connection between Saddam Hussein's regime and al-Qaida or the Sept. 11 attacks.
So let's see, why are we there again? Because Saddam was cruel to his own people? The world is rife with barbaric dictators, but we haven't sent in American troops to depose them. Yet.
It's important here to understand that taking issue with the president's foreign policy in no way diminishes the courage U.S. troops are displaying in Iraq and elsewhere, or the hardship their service is causing them and their families. They are no different than all the American men and women before them who have been placed in harm's way, and they deserve our utmost respect and admiration.
At least the president has recognized the financial cost of losing a loved one in Iraq by initiating increased insurance benefits to survivors at home.