"The president likes the heat ..."

More than 200 Iraqis are killed in truck bombings. George W. Bush clears a trail for mountain biking.

Published August 15, 2007 10:49AM (EDT)

What happened Tuesday in Crawford, Texas: "What the president loves to do when he's at his ranch is to spend time outdoors," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said. "And I know today that they were maybe going to do some trail building, some bike-trail building that they do out there, so that they can then mountain bike. And I wouldn't be surprised if the president got in some fishing, as well as some time with his wife, Laura, Mrs. Bush, and maybe other family and friends ... And I would expect that [later in the week] there would be some brush cutting to do, although it is 107 degrees, so I don't know how many people are going to be able to stand it. The president, obviously, likes the heat, so maybe everyone else is just going to have to suffer through it."

What happened Tuesday in Iraq: Four suicide bombers drove trucks into Qahataniya, a town 75 miles west of Mosul, and blew themselves up almost simultaneously. The Associated Press reports that at least 200 people were killed and 300 more people were wounded.

Now, we understand that having the president on the job Tuesday wouldn't have stopped the attacks in Qahataniya. And indeed, when the White House gets around to commenting on the attacks, it will almost certainly use them as proof that the U.S. presence in Iraq is both necessary and successful: See, with the "surge" having driven the bad guys out of the Baghdad area -- well, not really, but that's the story -- they're reduced to striking in desperation elsewhere.

But if there were ever a "maybe the world isn't better off with Saddam Hussein gone" moment, this may be it. And if you haven't asked yourself the "what the hell are we still doing in Iraq" question lately, these words from the AP report should take care of that:

"The victims were members of a small Kurdish sect -- the Yazidis -- sometimes attacked by Muslim extremists who consider them infidels ...

"The Yazidis comprise a primarily Kurdish religious sect with ancient roots, that worships an angel figure considered to be the devil by some Muslims and Christians. Yazidis, who don't believe in hell or evil, deny that.

"The sect has been under fire since some members stoned a Yazidi teenager to death in April. She had converted to Islam and fled her family with a Muslim boyfriend, and police said 18-year-old Duaa Khalil Aswad was killed by relatives who disapproved of the match."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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