Liz Cheney, daughter of former vice-president Dick Cheney, he of 5 deferrments to the draft during Viet Nam because he had other "priorities", doesn't get a vote on this one. As a Gold Star mother who lost my only child in Iraq in 2004, I don't need to be patronized by her platitudes of how a president should pay tribute to our fallen soldiers.
The Huffington Post posted an article about Liz Cheney's Fox interview with John Gibson: I think that clearly it is very important for our Commander in Chief whenever he can in whatever way possible to pay tribute to our fallen soldiers, our military folks but I think that what President Bush used to do is do it without the cameras. And I don't understand sort of showing up with the White House Press Pool with photographers and asking family members if you can take pictures. That's really hard for me to get my head around...It was a surprising way for the president to choose to do this."
See Liz, when you start thinking, that's when things start going south for you. Never one to let facts get in the way, she covers herself by saying "I think that what President Bush used to do is do it without the cameras". The fact is President Bush never went to Dover, and he never went to Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery to walk among the white stones that mark the graves of the nearly 800 members of the military who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, his and Dick Cheney's wars of choice. Bush said the appropriate way to show his respect for war's cost was to meet with grieving military families in private. Unfortunately or fortunately, very few families met with former President Bush if they did not share his politics and support his war policy. Bush chose to meet with families who were pre-screened to meet the administration's criteria. When insulated that way, Bush could say that families told him to 'stay the course" and to not let their loved one's death be in vain. I would have told him to bring the troops home and to take care of them when they got home; he did neither.
Bush or Cheney would never have been photographed honoring the US dead because they continued the longstanding policy of banning media coverage at Dover AFB, the mortuary for the Department of Defense. Just because we never saw photographs, doesn't mean it happened. The media ban policy was a political move by the Bush administration to shield the country from the images of war. The Pentagon did not feel that US population could pass the Dover Test. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Hugh Shelton, asked whether "the American public (is) prepared for the sight of our most precious resource coming home in flag-draped caskets.". In 1997 combat veteran and former Senator John Glenn describedthe Dover Test this way "It's easy to see the flags flying and the people go off to war, and the bands play and the flags fly. And it's not quite so easy when the flag is draped over a coffin coming home back through Dover, Delaware". President Obama, the Commander in Chief, took the Dover test on October 28; something neither Bush or Cheney ever did.
Kudos to Lawrence O'Donnell who, on Countdown on MSNBC, took exception to Liz Cheney's response with this message directly to her:
"Liz, don't let your dad do this to you. Don't let him parade you on to the stage to defend the indefensible. Let him suffer the full weight of the shame that we know he must feel when he watches Barack Obama do what he never had the decency to do."
Mark Shields at www.delmarva.com wrote a wonderful opinion piece called "Obama earns nation's thanks through 'Dover test'"
The scene at Dover is no ordinary picture. No, Dover is truly the portrait of sacrifice and of human loss. Statistics do not bleed. Real sons and real fathers -- and, yes, real sisters -- bleed. And they die. However any of us might feel about the wisdom of the decision to go to war or of how that war has been waged, all of us need to appreciate -- and to share -- the grief and pain of the human cost of war.
However Liz Cheney might feel about the wisdom of the decision to go to war, she has not earned the right to call out Obama on how he chooses to honor the fallen. Her words are irrelevant and we should treat them so.