Friday, August 12, 2005

Cindy Sheehan

Cindy Sheehan's son Casey, an Army specialist, was killed in Sadr City, Iraq only five days after his arrival; he was 24 when he died. Two months later, Sheehan and members of other grieving military families met with George W. Bush at Fort Lewis in Washington; accounts of that meeting vary. What we can say with confidence is that Cindy Sheehan left that first meeting unsatisfied -- which can hardly be surprising given that the meeting was actually about good PR for Bush, not giving satisfactory answers to a grieving mother. Ms. Sheehan is not, however, that easily shaken off.

The silver lining to Bush's decision to remove him self to Crawford for thirty-three days is that now we all know exactly where he'll be during the coming weeks, and while his ranchless "ranch" is a secure location, it remains much more accessible to the public, ironically, than the big white house that the taxpayers actually own and furnish for the President's use. Sheehan hasn't been able to get to Bush while he was in Washington, so instead she's trying to get to him in Texas. She -- and as of this writing, some 700 other people -- are encamped on the periphery of Bush's cowboy-less ranch, asking for one simple thing: that Bush might come out and talk to them, and perhaps answer a few questions that have been nagging at these families of dead soldiers.

These aren't rowdy anarchists or anti-WTO subversives; these are largely military families and their supporters. They pose no threat to the Bush administration, or at least not necessarily -- had Bush simply come out and invited Ms. Sheehan in for a glass of iced tea and a talk, this would all be over now. Instead, it has become probably the first truly effective and important protest against this war. (All the previous protests, while noble and important, clearly didn't have much of an effect. This one, on the other hand, definitely might.)

But stalling always makes things worse. Bush is in a difficult situation now: if he acquiesces and talks to Sheehan -- even if he does so with a nobility of spirit of which I can hardly imagine he's capable -- he not only makes himself vulnerable to extremely difficult questions (and we all know how Bush hates and avoids difficult questions), but now, thanks to his battalions of flying monkeys (more on them in a minute), will in right-wingnut eyes appear to be buckling to a Godless liberal terrorist-hugger. Not so good for the ol' image. On the other hand, if he continues to refuse to talk to her, he risks alienating the rest of the American people in their entirety. Because the only thing more sacred to a red-stater than Beloved Leader is a grieving gold-star mother.

The self-righteous droning heads of the right have already gotten about the business of putting Ms. Sheehan back in her place ("shut up and behave, you silly bitch") in the way that they would any other political rival. The problem, of course, is that Americans do still understand the difference between an actual political rival (John Kerry, say) and the average, everyday mother of a dead soldier. We do not apply the same rules to grieving mothers, regardless of whether or not they agree with our philosophies; it just isn't done. Because when you do it, you end up with something that sounds like this:

Cindy Sheehan returns entering stage right -- this time a left wing media whore in the form of a grieving mother.

. . . But, other mothers have gone through what Mrs. Sheehan has gone through and many are offended by her actions, thinking her deed cheapens the memory of Casey and other fallen soldiers. . . . One must stand back in amazement at how victimhood can turn a grieving mother into a statesman.


The remarkably humorous bit of all of this is that while Mrs. Sheehan is using the body of a dead solider to get her fifteen minutes of fame, Mrs. Sheehan is letting that body be used by Michael Moore, Code Pink, the DNC, and the media to extend their fifteen minutes of fame. The only one in this orgy of anti-war sentiment who has not spoken is Casey Sheehan, who gave his life that Iraq might be free. Whether he believed in the cause or was just doing his job, we will never know. But he did not die in vain. Iraq will be free. And in September we will all go back to forgetting who Cindy Sheehan is, not that we ever cared to begin with, and we will remain in Iraq.


Gold star mother = media whore, and a winger blogger who never met the guy can more ably speak for Casey Sheehan than the woman who devoted her life to him. See how that works? The current "argument" (if such inane drivel can be graced with that merit-implying label) is that Cindy Sheehan is (how they do wear this one into the ground) a "flip-flopper." She voted for her son's death in Iraq before she voted against it, I guess.

Ms. Sheehan says:

First of all, I did meet with George, and that is not a secret. I have written about it and been interviewed about it. I will stand by my recounting of the meeting. His behavior was rude and inappropriate. My behavior in June of 2004 and is irrelevant to what is going on in 2005. I was in deep shock and deep grief. The grief is still there, but the shock has worn off and the deep anger has set in. And to remind everybody, a few things have happened since June of 2004: The 9/11 commission report; the Senate Intelligence report; the Duelfer WMD report; and most damaging and criminal: the Downing Street Memos. The VERY LAST THING I HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THIS IS: Why do the right wing media so assiduously scrutinize the words of a grief filled mother and ignore the words of a lying president?


Yeah, why do they do that?

They're right in that Ms. Sheehan's response to the tragic loss of her child over the last fifteen months has at times hit different notes; not every comment she's made since Casey's death has fit neatly into a unified, coherent philosophical framework; there has been some emotional mess involved.

Funny how that might happen to a woman whose child came home to her in pieces.

The right is attacking Cindy as though she were just another challenger. In doing so, they demonstrate their fatal flaw: they simply don't know how to cope with reality. The nuance of life as it actually exists is beyond their grasp -- they see what they want the world to be; they expound at length on the ideas that, in theory, should work, but when they don't -- when the elaborate world they've arranged in their collective mind fails to match that which they see around them -- they simply stamp their feet until the world falls into line with their will. They refuse to see the disaster of their war; they refuse to see the insanity of their foreign policy; they refuse to look at the corpses of troops or brown-skinned civilians or even acknowledge that they exist; they refuse to talk to the mourning families of those who sacrificed everything for their war whether they wanted to or not.

It'll come back to them sooner or later. And maybe Cindy Sheehan is the pebble that starts an avalanche.

PS: Ms. Sheehan has been blogging her experiences in Crawford continually in her Kos diary.
11:49 AM ::
Amy :: permalink