Bush Responds to Sheehan Protest in Weekly Radio Address

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By: E&P Staff

President George W. Bush, in his weekly radio address, stood firm behind his goals and policies in Iraq, but also showed that he felt he needed to respond, in a high-profile way, to the protest of a mother who lost her son in that war, which is taking place just down the road from his Crawford ranch and gaining wide media play.

?In recent days, we have seen again that the path to victory in the war on terror will include difficult moments,? the president said near the end of his speech. ?Our nation grieves the death of every man and woman we lose in combat, and our hearts go out to the loved ones who mourn them. Yet, even in our grief, we can be confident in the future, because the darkness of tyranny is no match for the shining power of freedom.?

Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey died in Iraq last year, is demanding to meet the president during his five-week vacation in Crawford in hopes of learning why he had to die, and for what. Her story was featured on the front page of the The Washington Post today and in hundreds of other papers, as well.

Bush seemed to go out of his way to put forth, at least from a distance, part of an answer (in his mind) to Sheehan?s plea for explanations: ?So we will honor the fallen by completing the mission for which they gave their lives, and by doing so we will ensure that freedom and peace prevail.?

Responding further to calls by Sheehan and others for a quick withdrawal from Iraq, Bush showed that he needed to take seriously the growing public opposition to the war.
?We’re hunting down the terrorists and training the security forces of a free Iraq so Iraqis can defend their own country,? he said. ?Our approach can be summed up this way: As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down. And when that mission of defeating the terrorists in Iraq is complete, our troops will come home to a proud and grateful nation.?

But he closed the speech this way: ?The terrorists cannot defeat us on the battlefield. The only way they can win is if we lose our nerve. That will not happen on my watch. Withdrawing our troops from Iraq prematurely would betray the Iraqi people, and would cause others to question America’s commitment to spreading freedom and winning the war on terror.?

Various national polls this week suggested that better than 6 in 10 Americans feel the U.S. is on the wrong track in Iraq, with better than half feeling the war was mistake and now favor the beginning of a pullout.

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