The ones who started this war do not want you to see the ceremonies that begin at Patton Circle or near McLellan Gate and make their way to section 60. They do not want you to hear the mournful sound of the bugle playing taps or the sound of the three-volley salute fired for Army men like Capt. Mark Paine. They would rather have Tuesday's elections be a referendum on anything except another young soldier ending up here.
There is nothing at section 60 for the people who started this war, who still try to tell the country that it is somehow essential to the safety of this country. The President rolls up his sleeves, like a tough, regular guy, and says, "If we don't stop them there, they will follow us here," as if somehow his war in Iraq is essential to the future safety of Cedar Rapids. And then he is never near a coffin at Arlington National if he can help it, and he acts if a solemn outdoor cathedral like this, with a couple more military burials every week, does not exist.
He tries to act as if his party is still running on this war and runs away from it instead. George Bush wants this midterm election to be about anything except Iraq, and 100 more dead soldiers in the month of October, and no end in sight, even as his vice president, Dick Cheney, who set a world's record for draft deferments during Vietnam, surrounds himself with soldiers at a campaign stop in Colorado. Suddenly Bush and Cheney want everything to be about John Kerry all over again, now that Kerry sticks a foot in his mouth at a campaign stop of his own.
Only this election is not about Kerry. It is not about a peep show like Rep. Mark Foley's, or an Evangelical minister with a hunky boyfriend, or the cheap lie, peddled door to door by this administration, that opposition to Bush's war makes you some kind of weak, lousy traitor. No. Tuesday will be about this war, about coffins we aren't supposed to see at Arlington, about the back rows of section 60, about Capt. Mark Paine of the U.S. Army, who was proud to serve his country, who was supposed to come home from Iraq for good so he could be home for Christmas.
I have nothing that could add to that.