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[Susan notes: This scorcher of a letter crosses over to all aspects of White House policy.]

Published in New York Times

To the editor

Maureen Dowd, in "Why No Tea and Sympathy?" (column, Aug. 10), says, referring to Cindy Sheehan, a California woman whose son was killed in Iraq last year, "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."

I do not find this the least bit surprising, let alone amazing.

President Bush's handlers won't let him do what Ms. Dowd suggests for the same reasons they would not let him testify alone before the 9/11 commission and will not let him get within earshot of anyone who disagrees with him.

They realize that the president is someone who is totally driven by unquestioned belief, is disdainful of empirical truths, and most important, lacks the native intelligence to engage in unscripted give-and-take without embarrassing himself.

The most frightening aspect of this whole scenario may be that President Bush may have no idea what Ms. Sheehan is so upset about.

Kenneth Berger, Englewood, N.J

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