An amazing article:

They sat on two frayed chairs in a teacher’s lounge, the president and the widow, just the two of them so close that their knees were almost touching.

She was talking about her husband, the soldier who died in a far-off war zone. Tears rolled down her face as she mentioned two children left fatherless. His eyes welled up, too. He hugged her, held her face, kissed her cheek. “I am so sorry for your loss,” he kept repeating…

Halley, 41, lost her husband, National Guard Capt. Patrick Damon, also 41, in June in Afghanistan to what officially was ruled a heart attack. When Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) called to offer condolences and asked if she could do anything, Halley requested a telephone call from the president. Instead, when he came to Maine to visit his parents in Kennebunkport, the White House invited her to meet him at a school.

When Bush walked in, Halley told him about Patrick, how they had met at American University, moved to Maine and had a family. “After I spoke about my husband for quite some time, I said, ‘And now he’s dead. For what? Why? I’ve lost my soul mate.’ ” She asked her children, Mikayla, 14, and Jan-Christian, 12, to leave the room, then wept as she told Bush how hard life had become for them. “He started crying. I said, ‘These two children do not like you and they have good reason for that. And I hold you responsible for the death of my husband.’ ”

Bush seemed surprised that she opposes even the war in Afghanistan, and he cited the Taliban. “And I said, ‘Who put them in power?’ And he got a little defensive and said, ‘I’m really not here to discuss public policy with you.’ And I said, ‘That’s probably wise, and I’m not here to talk about public policy, either.’ “

“I think we will be in need of American forces for a long time,” says Talabani.

Update: Here’s an article about Capt. Damon’s death from his local paper.

Update: Speaking of Iraq, Mel’s back in the news.

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Update: SWLiP blogged this this morning too and zeroed in on the paragraph about Cindy Sheehan and Bush’s alleged insensitivity to her when they first met. She was singing a different tune once upon a time…