The former owner of the Texas Rangers baseball club split a doubleheader last weekend.
Aggies and Iraqis took to their feet in response to George W. Bush, but W.’s reception on the College Station leg of his presidential adoration tour proved more accommodating. Less than 48 hours after an Aggie graduation convocation warmly “whooped” a failed president who would have been jeered on most American campuses, Iraqis marched in support of journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi, whose two-shoe pitch at Sunday’s Baghdad press conference spoiled any Bush attempt to claim respect from a country he invaded six years ago.
Friday’s crowd at Reed Arena, filled with a disproportionate share of America’s “25 percenters” who think highly of the Bush presidency, heard a one-line reference to the 21 Aggies who have died in the War on Terror, a casualty total second only to West Point’s. Otherwise, Bush devoted most of his wartime references to living veterans and non-Texans—an Oregonian who visited the White House on artificial legs as the result of battlefield injuries and a 61-year-old military surgeon, a man Bush’s age, from Nevada who serves in Iraq.
Just as he named no Aggie who has spilled blood in Iraq, where all but one of those have died, Bush said nothing about the one million Iraqis who have perished in his war of choice. In a speech filled with admiration for Aggie traditions, however, he did embrace the myth that a barking Reveille would cause the cancellation of class at Texas A&M.
” I wish she had been there for some of those press conferences,” he joked. Little did Bush know that, less than two days later, he could have used A&M’s mascot when he met an Iraqi newsman whose views of the American president had been shaped, in part, by his coverage of the bloody battles for Fallujah.