Our Vice President at Auschwitz

Dick Cheney at Auschwitz

I first saw these pictures of our Vice-President on Friday morning, the day after the commemorations of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Since then, I've been debating whether to comment on them, given the large number of bloggers who have already weighed in on the issue. However, given my interest in the Holocaust and Holocaust denial, I thought I had to weigh in.

Cheney certainly deserves a lot of the criticism directed his way for not dressing for the occasion. Particularly offensive was his hat, which was emblazoned with the words "Staff 2001." ("Staff"? At a memorial held at Auschwitz? Didn't someone realize the implication?) Nonetheless, I think many of the bloggers who criticized Cheney for his shabby dress, while correct about his showing a lack of respect for the occasion, missed the more important point. At least Cheney was there. He may have been dressed as though he were planning on going ice-fishing right after the ceremony (for which he does indeed deserve criticism for poor symbolism and giving the appearance of lack of respect for the occasion), but at least he was there. His comments were also measured and entirely appropriate to the occasion, even if his clothing was not.

No, what truly demonstrates a lack of respect for the occasion by our leaders is the fact that President Bush did not see fit to bother to attend the ceremonies himself. Other world leaders, such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Jacques Chirac, somehow found the time to attend the ceremonies in person. They did not delegate appearing at such an important event to their underlings, as our President did. President Bush should have been there.


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