Dear Mr. President

Note: After President Bush's veto of the war funding bill, I sent the following email to the White House. In a departure from my usual practice, I have used my real name so that he is able to see exactly who I am and what I believe.

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing this letter in the unlikely event you will actually see these words. Even if you do, I know it is unlikely that you will heed my words where so many other more knowledgeable, powerful, and eloquent people have failed. Still, I am a loyal and patriotic American and believe it is my duty to make my voice heard. To do less would be to surrender my responsibilities as an American. To do less would make me exactly what you accuse your detractors of - traitors.

Without the slightest trace of personal malice, I can say that your veto of the war funding bill is not only disastrous, but shameful. In your veto speech you again repeated venomous accusations that those who oppose you offer comfort to the enemy and are unwilling to "support the troops".

Respectfully Mr. President, if you believe this, then you must also logically believe that you are equally unwilling to support them. You are the one who thrust them into a deadly, untenable war. You are the one who has repeatedly lengthened their tours of duty. You are the one who tried to hide their flag-draped coffins and welcomed the maimed back to a squalid Walter Reed. You sir, sent them into harm's way poorly equipped and directly conducted disastrous policies that have killed thousands of soldiers and American civilians along with tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians. These actions occurred long before a timetable was a gleam in anyone's eye and you have the temerity to point to these acts and speak of progress.

Sir, these actions are the very antithesis of support.

Mr. President, your veto was not about timelines or benchmarks, pork barrel projects or political maneuvering, and you know it. This veto was about avoiding something every one of those troops has to face daily - responsibility. They swore an oath not unlike the one you swore. They hold that oath inviolable. They do not run. They do not refuse your orders. They go to war and fight and die. And if they are lucky enough to survive, they return only to leave their families and go back again and again, because their oath said they must follow the orders of their Commander-in-Chief. These men and women have a different definition of their oath. Their oath is sacrosanct and despite the fact I totally disagree with any utterance you have ever made about this war, I solidly support every last one of them in carrying out that oath. To accuse me otherwise is a personal insult to me and every other patriotic American who thinks likewise.

How dare you Mr. President? How dare you?

I've heard you live in a bubble, but I'm sure you have heard the voices of the people - they are impossible ti miss. You have seen the increasing number of people taking to the streets in an ugly reminder of the last time we blundered into a war that served no purpose. Many have made light of your veto coming on the anniversary of your embarrassingly infamous "Mission Accomplished" speech. I think we could all agree there is much irony in that date, but there is another date in the news today - May 4, 1970. That is the day four Kent State students were killed in a Vietnam war demonstration gone awry. This date doesn't represent irony Mr. President. It reminds us of a dangerous time when America was riven by wholly avoidable strife because of a war our leaders were too cowardly and irresponsible to end.

Mr. President, with all due respect, your continued efforts to keep this war alive in the face of overwhelming and growing opposition of the people is just as cowardly, and ultimately, just as disastrous as the actions of the Vietnam era administrations. So in the vain hope that you still have a shred of decency, I implore you to actually negotiate with Congressional leaders when they visit you. The time is long past for feigning flexibility while pouring concrete around your position. The time is long past calling your fellow citizens traitors. The time is long past for this shameful episode to end.

It is my sincere hope that you finally decide to stand up to the responsibilities of your oath and duties as Commander-in-Chief. You may say that those who believe it is time to withdraw are cutters and runners. But if you do, I choose to say you are a fool.

Jack Koeneman

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Tuesday, May 01, 2007

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