The president was busy vacationing and had neither the time nor the inclination to meet with Mr. Cleland, a former U.S. senator who was himself the target of vicious, unconscionable attacks by the G.O.P. slime machine when he ran for re-election in Georgia in 2002.
Later, at a press conference under the hot Crawford sun, Mr. Cleland told reporters: "The question is, where is George Bush's honor? Where is his shame?"
Mr. Cleland reminded reporters of the scurrilous attacks by Bush forces against Senator John McCain in the Republican presidential primary in 2000 and said: "Keep in mind, this president has gone after three Vietnam veterans in four years. That's got to stop."
The Herbert's article is a fine piece of reporting, and I am happy that a major publication has brought it to the masses. Personally, I think that given the treatment McCain, Cleland and Kerry have been subjected to, they should simply ignore Mr Bush and not even talk to him. That's what I would most likely do if I were in their shoes. And I am honestly surprised at McCain's support for Mr Bush's reelection campaign.
But I am happy that Mr Cleland has shown up at the ranch in Crawford. That was a nice demonstration, a good public spectacle displaying the true state of affairs in the American politics today.