Maureen Dowd: It is the evening of the day

Maureen Dowd returns from her hiatus, scorning Iraq fatigue and reclaiming her place atop the Op-Ed pages — and MEL — by asking a simple question: why is President Bush ignoring the woman camped out at the end of his Crawford driveway? Her son died in Iraq, and she’s obviously upset. Bush could clearly swing by on a daily bike ride or five to extend his condolences and hear her out. And yet:

It’s amazing that the White House does not have the elementary shrewdness to have Mr. Bush simply walk down the driveway and hear the woman out, or invite her in for a cup of tea. But W., who has spent nearly 20 percent of his presidency at his ranch, is burrowed into his five-week vacation and two-hour daily workouts. He may be in great shape, but Iraq sure isn’t.

Elsewhere in the NYT that is borne out: the mayor of Baghdad has been deposed in an armed coup, and with five days to go before the constitutional deadline, “the parties have so far failed to resolve several crucial issues like the role of Islam in the government, the future of the ethnically mixed and oil-rich city of Kirkuk and the scope of self-rule for regions outside Iraqi Kurdistan.” Nothing to worry about there. Condi thinks the insurgency’s losing steam; a difficult argument to make to the 16 people killed by a suicide bomber yesterday. The NY Observer, meanwhile, has one of its trademark deeply-written and thoughtful articles, this time on Steven Vincent who was murdered in Basra last week. It is both a touching tribute to him and a disquieting echo of his Times op-ed from July 31st warning against the rise of Shi’ite fundamentalism in Basra, which clearly hit the mark. Clearly there are people in Basra who do not want Americans nosing around – more good news. Meanwhile the WSJ assures us that the Bush team is as productive as can be down in Crawford.

But if it’s so efficient then surely a moment can be spared to entertain a visitor, especially one that’s getting such a high profile? About an issue that is so dividing the country? Days after 16 marines from one community in Ohio were killed?

MoDo says he can’t because he is “selectively humane,” invoking 9/11 losses and the freedom of oppressed Iraqis. “But his humanitarianism will remain inhumane as long as he fails to understand that the moral authority of parents who bury children killed in Iraq is absolute.

And, with that, MoDo is back.

Why No Tea and Sympathy? [NYT]
Baghdad Mayor Is Ousted by a Shiite Group and Replaced [NYT]
Insurgents Hit Baghdad; Doubt Voiced on Charter [WaPo]
At Texas Ranch, Bush Controls Agenda [WSJ]
Steven Vincent, Murdered In Iraq, E. Village Legend [NYO]

Update: Drudge has an account of Cindy Sheehan’s warm comments about meeting with Bush last year, which contrasts markedly with her comments this year.