Comment angers US war vets
President George Bush, in an Oval Office interview on May 13th, declared that he gave up golf in solidarity with American Iraqq war dead. In an interview with the Politico website, Bush said he made the sacrifice because of the war. “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 in solidarity. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.”
His comment has angered US war veterans. Veteran Brandon Friedman, a infantry officer who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, told the Press Association: “Thousands of Americans have given up a lot more than golf for this war. For President Bush to imply that he somehow stands in solidarity with families of American soldiers by giving up golf is disgraceful. It’s an insult to all Americans and a slap in the face to our troops’ families.” Friedman, who is vice chairman of the US veterans’ organisation VoteVets, added: “It shows how disconnected he is from everyday Americans, especially those who are serving in Iraq.”
Bush said he laid down his clubs after the August 2003 bombing of United Nations offices in Baghdad that killed the UN’s top official in the country, Sergio Vieira de Mello. “I remember when de Mello got killed as a result of these murderers taking this good man’s life. I was playing golf – I think in central Texas – and they pulled me off the golf course and I said, ‘It’s just not worth it any more’.”
According to a database held by CBS News the statement is not entirely accurate. He did cut short a round of golf at the 12th hole on that day, but his last recorded game came two months later, October 13.
Here are portions of the interview dealing with the war in Iraq:
Q: Mr. President, I’m going to surprise you – there’s a question from a user, Bruce Becker, and he asks: Do you feel that you were misled on Iraq?
Bush: I feel like – I felt like there were weapons of mass destruction. You know, “mislead” is a strong word, it almost connotes some kind of intentional – I don’t think so, I think there was a – not only our intelligence community, but intelligence communities all across the world shared the same assessment. And so I was disappointed to see how flawed our intelligence was.
Q: And so you feel that you didn’t have all the information you should have or the right spin on that information?
Bush: No, no, I was told by people that they had weapons of mass destruction – as were members of Congress, who voted for the resolution to get rid of Saddam Hussein. And of course, the political heat gets on and they start to run and try to hide from their votes. But intelligence communities all across the world felt the same thing. This was kind of a common assessment.
So “mislead” means, do I think somebody lied to me? No, I don’t. I think it was just, you know, they analyzed the situation and came up with the wrong conclusion.
Q: 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.
Q: 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.
[For the entire interview, go here.]