Hildi Halley’s 41-year-old husband died in Afghanistan. At first the Army told her it was a heart attack but now she’s told it was not a heart attack and she wants to know just what the hell happened.
So when she got a chance this week to be among a group of war widows meeting with President George W. Bush, she took the opportunity to tell him just what she thought of the war.
"I said it’s time to stop the bleeding," said Halley, whose husband, Army National Guard Capt. Patrick Damon, died June 15 in Afghanistan. "It’s time to swallow our pride and find a solution."
She said Bush responding by saying "there was no point in us having a philosophical discussion about the pros and cons of the war."
Typical Bush. Avoid the real issues.
Halley told blogger Greg Sargent that she told Bush just how responsible she felt he was:
Halley has just told me that she went much farther in her criticism of Bush, telling him directly that he was "responsible" for the deaths of American soldiers and that as a "Christian man," he should recognize that he’s "made a mistake" and that it was his "responsibility to end this." She recounted to me that she was "very direct," telling Bush: "As President, you’re here to serve the people. And the people are not being served with this war."
"I talked to him about how important this person was to me," Halley recounted, speaking of her husband. "It’s not just a soldier who died. Lives are changed forever…I said, `This doesn’t make sense to me."
"He said, `Terrorists killed three thousand people, we had to go to war.’" Halley continued to me. "I said, `Well, who put the Taliban into power? The United States did.’ He said, `I’m not going to have a philosphical debate over politics.’ The whole conversation was very gentle."
Halley says that while Bush was personable and receptive to her, she was very direct and critical of Bush’s policies and insisted that the right thing to do was to end the war.
"We literally sat knee to knee…I looked deep into his eyes and talked to him about love and losing people and that he was responsible for this. I said, `I didn’t vote for you, but you are my President. And you’re not serving me.’"
"I said I believed it was time to put an end to this. His job is to find solutions. I said, `You yourself have said you had erroneous information going into this.’"
She continued: "I said, `As a Christian man, you realize that when you’ve made a mistake it’s your responsiblity to end this. And it’s time to end the bleeding and it’s time to end the war.’"
"I said, `what would truly bring healing is to start working on changing your policy towards the Middle East…as President, you’re here to serve the people. And the people are not being served with this war.’"
She added: "I told him, `It’s time as a Christian to put our pride behind us."
Bush, she said, cried and hugged her but she doesn’t believe the meeting will bring about any real change.
She’s right. Bush can appear moved but, in the end, he is a stubborn man who remains convinced that he, and only he, is right when it comes to his illegal wars.