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MONDAY, AUGUST 15, 2005
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EDITORIAL

President should meet mom who lost her son in the war

When President Bush rushed past Cindy Sheehan in an armored sport utility vehicle Friday, heading to and from a multimillion-dollar Republican fundraiser, it was not one of his finest moments.

Ms. Sheehan's son Casey, a 24-year-old U.S. soldier, was killed in Iraq early last year. The California woman soon started traveling the country, criticizing the war and demanding answers from the Bush administration.

For more than a week she has been camped outside Mr. Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, where he is taking a working vacation. She wants to speak with the president. New questions have occurred to her since a group of families met with him two months after Casey died.

The president says she has every right to speak out, but he has declined to meet with her.

Ms. Sheehan wants to discuss the war with Mr. Bush on personal terms. "I would say, 'What is the noble cause my son died for?' And I would say if the cause is so noble has he encouraged his daughters to enlist? And I would be asking him to quit using Casey's sacrifice to justify continued killing, and to use Casey's sacrifice to promote peace."

The president should be willing to face those questions, to look her in the eye and tell her what's in his heart and what his responsibilities as commander in chief require.

She will leave the meeting and give the public her spin on what the president said, and the White House will have ample opportunity to counterspin.

Washington politics complicate some decisions that should be simple. Mr. Bush should be thinking: What's the decent thing to do? He ought to meet with this grieving woman who lost her son in a war that he started.

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