Tim Abbott is a Vietnam veteran who lives in the Southwestern Virginia town of Hillsville, a conservative, blue-collar community that tends to vote Republican and bleed red, white and blue.
But, like an increasing number of veterans, Abbott is fed up with President George W. Bush.
“Bush talks a lot about freedom, courage, transparent government and the rule of law. He talks,” Abbott says. “His speeches are carefully choreographed before audiences of his faithful — often Christian fundamentalists or, to paraphrase Bush, Christian-fascists — and they must sign loyalty oaths to Bush. He speaks before audience after audience of soldiers and sailors who cannot speak except as directed by the White House.”
Normally, such comments would be risky in a mountain town where Patriotism rules supreme but Abbott expressed his views this week in an op ed article for The Roanoke Times and found many people agreeing with him.
“When I think of Bush, I do not think of liberty and courage, compassion and justice. No, I think of arrogance, greed and lies,” Abbott wrote. “He is a thug, a buffoon and a coward. Not only is he incompetent, he is corrupt.”
In normal times, these would be fighting words and Abbott would do well to avoid lunch at the Hillsville Diner, the Main Street eatery where the locals gather to discuss politics. But George W. Bush’s times are not normal times and Abbott is greeted warmly on the streets of Hillsville.
“In his Mission Accomplished foray, (Bush) wore a military uniform, something no president has done since Washington, and Washington only wore the uniform to quell a rebellion,” Abbott says. “Around the world he has replaced the Soviet Gulag with the Bush Gulag, where men may be tortured.”
Abbott’s comments come when this web site revealed that the Pentagon has ordered soldiers home from Iraq for holiday leave to give pro-war interviews to their hometown newspapers and television station. This does not surprise a veteran who learned about military duplicity in Vietnam.
“Others before whom he speaks may ask no questions. He runs from journalists, as we have seen in China, even on those rare occasions that he speaks before them,” Abbott says of Bush. “Even worse, he has paid journalists to say good things about him and his policies. He also produces propaganda from government offices that he offers as news reports. And any protests against his policies are diverted well away from his sight and hearing.”
In recent weeks, I’ve spoken with dozens of vets of Vietnam, Desert Storm and the present invasion of Iraq and most speak with anger towards Bush and his policies.
Soldiers serve under a code of honor, something they say Bush lacks.
“Bush is of a kind with the dictators; a strutting, sanctimonious buffoon who talks democracy but acts like Saddam Hussein,” Abbott says. “Bush might differ in degree from Hussein, not having been in power as long, but in behavior, with torture and the corruption of government, they are of a kind.
“While al-Qaida is an enemy of the values and principles of the United States and Western civilization and must be confronted, it can do no more than kill people and destroy property.
“Bush can subvert our principles and institutions. He is the greater enemy.”