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Obama remembers at Ft. Hood Memorial

November 10, 2009 1:56:52 PM PST
At some point, you just yield to the sorrow. Halfway through President Obama's short vignettes this afternoon about the 13 soldiers killed during the Ft. Hood massacre, I couldn't fight back the tears any longer. Most of these murdered soldiers were all so young, some of them not that much older than my two teenagers.

This is the second time in two weeks that Mr. Obama has put himself front-and-center in the woeful reality of war dead.

Today he eulogized at Ft. Hood in Texas. Two weeks ago, in the dead of night, he watched as caskets from Afghanistan were unloaded from a cargo plane at Dover Air Base in Delaware.

One wonders what's going on in his head and his heart. If he orders tens of thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan, he's got to know that there will be many more cargo planes landing at Dover.

No faith justifies these murderous acts, the President told the crowd at the base today, referring to Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist accused of opening fire at Ft. Hood. He had been espousing fundamentalist Islam for a couple of years, yet the Army chose not to kick him out or, at the minimum, 'sus him out about his evolving radical Muslim views.

It was difficult to 'sus out the President's take on what he might do in Afghanistan from his remarks today. Will he launch a big surge of tens of thousands, or a mini surge of a few thousand, or start pulling out? Expect a decision perhaps by the end of next week.

But there is a growing chorus of critics ? not just from the left, but also from the center ? that entrenching U.S. troops even deeper in Afghanistan is another Vietnam-like quagmire. It's already been eight years in that country ? and it's clear we're not wanted, and it's clear the government we seem to be backing is hardly a beacon of democracy or political cleanliness.

Last night at Mary Travers' memorial service, Bill Moyers talked about the first time he heard Peter, Paul and Mary, and how it changed his life. He was at the time an assistant director of the Peace Corps. After JFK was killed, Moyers went to work for Lyndon Johnson, intoxicated with the belief that LBJ's Great Society would bring civil rights and equality and justice.

Johnson was undone, said Moyers, by his ill-advised decision to escalate the war in Vietnam. And Barak Obama, Moyers told mourners last night, seems to be ready to repeat that kind of mistake by escalating the war in Afghanistan.

Moyers is hardly a flaming radical ? and he represents a certain sentiment among ardent Obama supporters that this President may be about to make a serious mistake.

There are those who disagree, and the President seems to be listening to them in this debate. How much he's listening - we might not know until Afghanistan D-Day next week.

Of course, if boosting the ranks of the armed forces would help the economy, then maybe the argument for expanding the war in Afghanistan might have more support. But the consensus is that military expansionism doesn't equate to economic growth.

With the official unemployment rate at 10.2%, and the unofficial rate at least half again as large, creating jobs ? and not just a run-up of the stock market ? remains issue number one. And at some point, this recession, started in the last administration, will become Obama's recession.

We'll have the latest on the Ft. Hood investigation, the President's speech and reaction, tonight at 11.

We're also following the frightening morning at a high school/middle school in Pine Plains in Dutchess County, where a former student, now 42 years old, is accused of holding the principal hostage this morning. He was apparently upset over the treatment of his son, a soldier, who was wounded on the job, and he wanted media attention. So cops say he held the principal hostage with a rifle.

We're also taking a closer look at asthma in children ? and a revealing new study that says ethnic minority parents are less preventative in their treatment of their kids' asthma than Caucasian parents. The study found minority parents are twice as likely to bring their children to an emergency room for treatment of an asthma attack, when proper use of an inhaler might have averted the attack.

Carolina Leid has our story, at 11.

And the man who kept an entire region terrified for weeks back in 2002, tonight will be legally killed. Virginian Gov. Tim Kaine this afternoon denying any stay of execution for John Allen Muhammad, the so-called D.C. sniper - who along with an accomplice kept the greater Washington, D.C. area on edge for a three-week period. In all, 10 people were killed.

Muhammad is set to be executed by lethal injection at 9 p.m.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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