The Voter Quoter

Context page, showing the paragraph from which the quotation was taken, with author and other source information.

An essay by E. L. Doctorow. The entire essay can be read at http://www.kurtelling.com/dcforum/kurtelling/1401.html.

Excerpt from an essay published in the Easthampton Star, September 9, 2004.

But this president does not know what death is. He hasnít the mind for it. You see him joking with the press, peering under the table for the WMDs he canít seem to find, you see him at rallies strutting up to the stage in shirt sleeves to the roar of the carefully screened crowd, smiling and waving, triumphal, a he-man. He does not mourn. He doesnít understand why he should mourn. He is satisfied during the course of a speech written for him to look solemn for a moment and speak of the brave young Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. But you study him, you look into his eyes and know he dissembles an emotion which he does not feel in the depths of his being because he has no capacity for it. He does not feel a personal responsibility for the thousand dead young men and women who wanted be what they could be. They come to his desk not as youngsters with mothers and father or wives and children who will suffer to the end of their days a terribly torn fabric of familial relationships and the inconsolable remembrance of aborted lifeÖ. They come to his desk as a political liability which is why the press is not permitted to photograph the arrival of their coffins from Iraq. How then can he mourn? To mourn is to express regret and he regrets nothing. He does not regret that his reason for going to war was, as he knew, unsubstantiated by the facts. He does not regret that his bungled plan for the warís aftermath has made of his mission-accomplished a disaster. He does not regret that rather than controlling terrorism his war in Iraq has licensed it. So he never mourns for the dead and crippled youngsters who have fought this war of his choice. He wanted to go to war and he did. He had not the mind to perceive the costs of war, or to listen to those who knew those costs. He did not understand that you do not go to war when it is one of the options but when it is the only option; you go not because you want to but because you have to.

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