Herbert raises the question: what does support for the troops mean? No public protest? Kind thoughts, when you think of them at all? Voting straight party GOP every two years?
For all the talk of supporting the troops, they are a low priority for most Americans. If the nation really cared, the president would not be frolicking at his ranch for the entire month of August. He'd be back in Washington burning the midnight oil, trying to figure out how to get the troops out of the terrible fix he put them in.
Instead, Mr. Bush is bicycling as soldiers and marines are dying. Dozens have been killed since he went off on his vacation.
As for the rest of the nation, it's not doing much for the troops, either. There was a time, long ago, when war required sacrifices that were shared by most of the population. That's over.
I was in Jacksonville, Fla., a few days ago and watched in amusement as a young woman emerged from a restaurant into 95-degree heat and gleefully exclaimed, "All right, let's go shopping!" The war was the furthest thing from her mind.
For the most part, the only people sacrificing for this war are the troops and their families, and very few of them are coming from the privileged economic classes. That's why it's so easy to keep the troops out of sight and out of mind. And it's why, in the third year of a war started by the richest nation on earth, we still get stories like the one in Sunday's Times that began:
"For the second time since the Iraq war began, the Pentagon is struggling to replace body armor that is failing to protect American troops from the most lethal attacks by insurgents."
Scandalous incompetence? Appalling indifference? Try both. Who cares? This is a war fought mostly by other people's children. The loudest of the hawks are the least likely to send their sons or daughters off to Iraq.
When we support our country in war, what do we do? And if we aren't moved to actively support our troops, is that our failing (as Henry Kissinger seems to think)? Or is that the failure of the leadership who sold us on this war?
Which is precisely Cindy Sheehan's question: Mr. President, why are our children dying on your orders? What is your explanation?