Monday, December 01, 2003

Is Bush a Mentsch?

Is George W. Bush a mentsch?

From the Dallas Morning News

Thanksgiving Pilgrimage: Mensch in cowboy boots merits praise
A Fox News correspondent in Iraq said that when he told soldiers the commander in chief had been in Iraq for a Thanksgiving visit hours earlier, all the troops could say was, "Wow!" We know how they feel.

President Bush's secret pilgrimage to the front took the entire world by surprise, even members of his own staff. He sneaked out of the White House in the dead of night, leaving in an unmarked car, and slipping onto Air Force One through the back door. Mr. Bush flew 13 hours to Iraq, landing under cover of darkness, with all the lights of the plane out, to make it less of a target for terrorist missiles.

That is, frankly, incredible. As the nation saw, Mr. Bush received an uproarious welcome from 600 shocked and awed soldiers. The troops cheered so forcefully they nearly brought the most powerful man in the world to tears. "I was just looking for a warm meal somewhere," the president drawled. "Thanks for inviting me to dinner." He went on to serve the Thanksgiving meal to Americans under arms far, far from home. This was a spectacular move by the president, whose visit was a tremendous morale booster for our troops, and sent a powerful message to the world that the United States is committed to finishing the job we started in Iraq.

Mr. Bush's critics will inevitably complain that his surprise visit was a stunt designed to counteract poll numbers showing falling confidence in the way his administration is handling the Iraqi occupation. Granted, Mr. Bush will probably get a political boost out of this lightning trip, but those who reduce his gallant and courageous gesture to mere politics only diminish themselves. Any commander in chief, Republican or Democrat, who took this kind of risk to show solidarity with our soldiers on Thanksgiving would deserve unreserved praise and admiration.

There is a Yiddish expression to describe a man who acts this way: mensch. Leo Rosten defined it as "someone of substance, someone to emulate, someone of noble character." George W. Bush of Texas showed yesterday what a mensch looks like in cowboy boots.

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