The Scariest News Story Last Week
Maybe I'll make this a regular feature. No shortage of candidates these days, obviously. AP:
A teary-eyed President Bush stopped in front of an aerial photo of Auschwitz on Friday at Israel's Holocaust memorial and said the U.S. should have sent bombers to prevent the extermination of Jews there.The image of Bush pulling aside his Secretary of State to demand answers about the selection of bombing targets during World War II is surely one that deserves a mention in any historical retrospective of this presidency. On its own, it might be nothing more than poignant. The scary quotient comes from reading it in the context of this Michael Hirsh story in Newsweek:
Bush twice had tears in his eyes during an hour-long tour of the museum, said Shalev, who guided Bush through the exhibits.
Upon viewing an aerial shot of Auschwitz, taken during the war by U.S. forces, he said Bush called the decision not to bomb it "complex." He then called over Rice to discuss President Franklin D. Roosevelt's decision, clearly pondering the options before rendering an opinion of his own, Shalev said.
Shalev quoted Bush as asking Rice, "Why didn't Roosevelt bomb it?" He said Rice and Bush discussed the matter further and then the president delivered his verdict.
"We should have bombed it," Shalev, speaking in Hebrew, quoted Bush as saying.
Briefing reporters later on Air Force One, Rice said Bush was talking about the rail lines to the camp.
"We were talking about the often-discussed 'Could the United States have done more by bombing the train tracks?'" Rice said. "And so we were just talking about the various explanations that had been given about why that might not have been done.
"It was an exhibit about the train tracks. And so we were just talking about the various explanations because, you know, there are three or four different explanations about why the United States chose not to try to bomb the train tracks," she said.
But in private conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last week, the president all but disowned the document, said a senior administration official who accompanied Bush on his six-nation trip to the Mideast. "He told the Israelis that he can't control what the intelligence community says, but that [the NIE's] conclusions don't reflect his own views" about Iran's nuclear-weapons program, said the official, who would discuss intelligence matters only on the condition of anonymity....Bush told Olmert he was uncomfortable with the findings and seemed almost apologetic....But the president may be trying to tell his allies something more: that he thinks the document is a dead letter.In this president's mind, the "gathering storm" and the 1930's have now passed, and the sleepy masses -- misled by his own intelligence community -- failed to meet the challenge. It's the summer of 1944 and those train tracks are in plain sight, waiting for a leader in search of a legacy.