Charlene Feldbusch's faith in Dubya and the war in Iraq is both touching and infuriating. It's touching because this mother sent her son off to war, and what mother wouldn't want to believe we invaded Iraq for all the right reasons? It's infuriating because she has no doubt there's a connection between Sept. 11 and Iraq, despite the fact that even Dubya himself has conceded there is no evidence of a connection.
The Feldbusch family hails from Blairsville in Westmoreland County. The New York Times recently profiled Mrs. Feldbusch's son, the soldier, in a front-page story. Two sentences on the front page say it all. "Sgt. Jeremy Feldbusch left home in February, a fit, driven, highly capable Army Ranger. Two months later he came home blind."
Now this guy sits in his living room and waits for Mom to bring him Mountain Dew. He plans on visiting wounded soldiers to boost their morale, despite brain damage and occasional painful seizures. He is truly a profile in courage.
But considering the gravity of Sgt. Feldbusch's injuries, I wondered whether there were family discussions over whether it was all worth it. I called Sgt. Feldbusch's mother Charlene because I wanted to know how she felt about the reasons for going to war.
"I feel like we're there for a reason. There's a purpose for being there, " she said during our brief telephone interview.
What is that purpose? "I think the purpose is we shouldn't forget 9/11, and I think a lot of people in this country have."
My heart sank. I understand supporting the President. I understand a mother supporting her son and the rest of the troops. I just can't believe the degree to which everyone has been bamboozled by the Bushies, who are having their cake -- by implying a connection between Iraq and 9/11 -- and eating it too, by denying the connection officially.
"Everybody can live in their own little safe corner and pretend everything's OK," Mrs. Feldbusch continued. "What happens when another 9/11 happens? Then what are they going to say?"
And what of those who complain there are no weapons of mass destruction, the chief reason for going to war, the reason it was supposedly necessary for her son to go blind?
"What do you think the people were who took our planes and drove them into the
buildings?" she asked. "They are weapons of mass destruction."
I did not call to argue with the Feldbusch family. I did suggest many believe that Saddam's apparently non-existent WMDs and 9/11 are two separate issues. "I don't think any of it's separate," she replied. "I think they're all involved."
Mrs. Feldbusch was disappointed that The New York Times report focused on Jeremy's down days. "Unfortunately our son has lost his eyesight and had brain damage. But he's always thinking about somebody else. Jeremy never has been, 'Oh, poor me.' ... To say he's dark and moody -- Jeremy does have some frontal lobe brain damage that causes different things, but Jeremy always puts a smile on everyone's face who walks in this house. ...
"He really does not want the country to forget the wounded soldiers. It's not all about Jeremy; it's about all of us."
Noble sentiments. If people understood the real reasons we went to war -- whatever they are -- and supported them, I could live with that.
But I'm getting sick to my stomach over the lack of even rudimentary analytical thinking on the part of many Americans about what we're doing in Iraq and why.
You know that ratcheting up of the color-coded paranoia alert to orange recently? You know why we did it? Because al Qaeda may have infiltrated foreign airlines or placed passengers to fly planes into buildings. Did you hear Tom Ridge say Saddam's Republican Guard, or the Fedayeen fighters, or Tikrit diehards, infiltrated Air France? No. It is reportedly al Qaeda ... the same people who attacked us on Sept. 11. Not Saddam Hussein.
"Jeremy has more insight than people that can see," Mrs. Feldbusch says.
We could all use a little more insight. Sgt. Jeremy Feldbusch has lost his eyesight, but his mother's blind faith in our leaders, and their reasons for going to war, remains unshaken.