Thursday, August 18, 2005

Cindy Sheehan's War

I decided at the beginning that I wasn't going to say anything about Cindy Sheehan and her vigil near President Bush's ranch. She has suffered a grievous loss, and it's impossible not to feel sympathy for her. However, I've been moved to join the discussion because I'm so repulsed by the left's manipulation of her and the right's attacks on her.

Mrs. Sheehan says she won't leave until Bush has another meeting with her or he leaves the ranch, whichever comes first. Her goal for the meeting is to demand that Bush explain the "noble cause" for which her son died in Iraq.

I doubt very seriously that President Bush will meet her this time, even if he wants to. First, no president can meet every citizen sufficiently motivated by a cause to camp out in front of wherever he happens to be in residence. Meeting Mrs. Sheehan now would set that precedent. Second, if the President did meet her, she would verbally attack him and insult him, providing ammunition for more attacks on him by anti-war leftists and the media.

Anyone who doubts that this would happen has only to look at the current media circus that provides around-the-clock, adoring coverage of Mrs. Sheehan. Moreover, her history as an anti-war leftist is clear. Perhaps these sentiments are recent, given the tragedy of the loss of her son. In any case, her views reflect the hysteria and conspiracy mania of the far left, and that alone compromises the integrity of her crusade.

As quoted at The Drudge Report, here are some statements Mrs. Sheehan made in the past:

We are not waging a war on terror in this country. We’re waging a war of terror. The biggest terrorist in the world is George W. Bush!

We are waging a nuclear war in Iraq right now. That country is contaminated. It will be contaminated for practically eternity now.

If George Bush believes his rhetoric and his bullshit, that this is a war for freedom and democracy, that he is spreading freedom and democracy, does he think every person he kills makes Iraq more free?

The whole world is damaged. Our humanity is damaged. If he thinks that it’s so important for Iraq to have a U.S.-imposed sense of freedom and democracy, then he needs to sign up his two little party-animal girls. They need to go to this war.

We want our country back and, if we have to impeach everybody from George Bush down to the person who picks up dog shit in Washington, we will impeach all those people.

For those who don't like Drudge, here are some quotes from another source:

That lying bastard, George Bush, is taking a five-week vacation in time of war.

You get that maniac out here to talk with me in person.

And the other thing I want him to tell me is 'just what was the noble cause Casey died for?' Was it freedom and democracy? Bullshit! He died for oil. He died to make your friends richer. He died to expand American imperialism in the Middle East. We're not freer here, thanks to your PATRIOT Act. Iraq is not free. You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you'll stop the terrorism.

There, I used the 'I' word -- imperialism. And now I'm going to use another 'I' word -- impeachment -- because we cannot have these people pardoned. They need to be tried on war crimes and go to jail.

My son was killed in 2004. I am not paying my taxes for 2004. You killed my son, George Bush, and I don't owe you a penny . . . you give my son back and I'll pay my taxes. Come after me (for back taxes) and we'll put this war on trial.

I agree with most of what Jim Hoagland said in a column today, especially this:

What is disturbing is that the national political discourse is increasingly detached from reality. The emotionalism and character assassination practiced by both sides -- the clamor in the echo chamber around Sheehan is only one example -- is mistaken for "politics." ...

A vigil by a war victim's mother should be an act of devotion that transcends political theater. Bush owes Sheehan the respect of the meeting she seeks -- if she demonstrates that she will show him the respect any elected president deserves.

As I said, I have a great deal of sympathy for Mrs. Sheehan. She lost her son, most of her family opposes her current anti-war activities, and her husband is divorcing her. No one can know what her son would have thought, were he still alive, but the facts that he enlisted voluntarily in the Army and re-enlisted to stay in the Army might be an indication.

Mrs. Sheehan has the right to her beliefs, and she has the right to voice them. Everyone else, on both sides of the issue, should back off and leave her alone. Enough is enough.


Blogger MaxedOutMama said...

I agree with you. I don't think that Cindy Sheehan's sentiments are really the problem. I think the problem is the glorification of her cause and the media's refusal to give others equal time.

She has the right to do what she is doing - to follow her beliefs - but others have the rights to do the same.

Somehow I feel like this woman is being victimized to some extent by the poor judgment of others. We can respect her feelings and her rights without disrespecting the feelings and the rights of others who don't agree with her.

11:34 AM, August 18, 2005  
Anonymous howard said...

Beautifully put, Tom.

Civility seems to be a key casualty of modern political discourse. It's always good to hear a few voices of reason still exist.

3:04 PM, August 18, 2005  
Blogger profmarcus said...

the lesson of cindy sheehan for all of us - when you stand up for your beliefs in today's society, you better be prepared to be attacked mercilessly, without restraint or compassion... the right's attack machine knows no limits, following the karl rove playbook to the letter... in roveworld, you don't merely attack your enemies, you utterly destroy them, beat the dead bodies with baseball bats, drive metaphorical stakes through their hearts, jump up and down on them, drag them behind cars through the streets, and then dump them in the river weighed down with concrete blocks...

3:15 PM, August 18, 2005  
Anonymous Kevin said...

I absolutely agree with profmarcus.

What's noteworthy to me is how Ms. Sheehan is being characterized as anti-war along with those who agree with her. This is a variation on a very old rhetorical trick employed by those who wish to find a way to dismiss an individual without doing so directly. Using codewords designed to illicit a certain response in the audience.

While undoubtedly there are some who agree with her and are indeed pacifist opponents of all war. Reading thru the list of statements supposedly made by Ms. Sheehan herself reveals that she has limited her criticism to Iraq. Yet that's apparently enough to pidgeon-hole her as an anti-war leftist. Surprise, surprise.

3:28 PM, August 18, 2005  
Anonymous Schmedlap said...

If my parents were to pull anything like Cindy Sheehan is pulling, due to being worryied about me, or as a result of me getting wounded, then I would disown them. It disgusts me that much. If I were killed and they pulled a stunt like this, then I am sure that I would be spinning in my grave.

I am not a right-winger with politics even remotely resembling Bush's and even if I were I would not care about being labeled as part of the "right-wing attack machine." This woman disgusts me. It is a shame that her son was killed by Islamofascists and those whom they employ. Her actions are only making it tougher for us to wage this war and thus helping to put more Soldiers in even greater danger, which is sick.

Right now, our hands are tied in Iraq. Every time that we shoot or detain an insurgent, we spend hours collecting up evidence and processing paperwork, just like a police department would. Yet, we are not allowed to police cities like police departments do, because we are saddled with the Geneva Conventions and Hague Conventions that bar us from patrolling in civilian clothing and from entering known cache points (mosques). We have all of the disadvantages of police and Soldiers and none of the advantages of either.

Technically speaking, we should not have such restrictions on us, because we are not facing lawful combatants. We are simply fighing international criminals. So why are our hands tied? Because there is so much public pressure on the administration by peaceniks and protesters like Cindy Sheehan who keep up the heat on the administration, working to keep public opinion against him and working to make any bold policy changes more difficult. Sheehan, in some twisted way, may think that she is holding the President accountable. She is not. She is playing into the hands of people who want to weaken the administration at any cost, including the cost in American Soldiers' lives.

The sick irony is that the people who make it more difficult to wage this war, and thus cause more dead Soldiers, are the same people who use the statistics of dead Soldiers as evidence that the administration is wrong. The 1960's wannabe's seem to want OIF to turn into Vietnam, just so that they can protest and push their peace, love, and understanding agenda. They rejoice at the rising body count in Iraq, because it gives legitimacy to their cause, in the eyes of many. These are sick people and I waver back and forth between contempt and pity for them. Today is a contempt day.

I hope that Cindy Sheehan gets run over by Bush's motorcade as he leaves the ranch.

4:56 PM, August 18, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Folks, these last three comments illustrate the point nicely. There's way too much extremism on both sides of every issue these days, it seems.

Mrs. Sheehan's political orientation is crystal clear, based on her actions and her own words. That's fine with me. She can think and say what she wants because she's an American citizen. I just think the left should stop using her and the right should get off her back. Give the poor woman a break.

By the way, when Karl Rove goes out to the encampment and starts beating Mrs. Sheehan with a baseball bat, I hope someone will let me know. I'll be glad to go out and help defend her.

5:24 PM, August 18, 2005  
Blogger carla said...

By the way, when Karl Rove goes out to the encampment and starts beating Mrs. Sheehan with a baseball bat, I hope someone will let me know. I'll be glad to go out and help defend her.

Would it take Rove to actually do the deed or would you defend her from any physical attack from a detractor?

As it stands..a Bush supporter has fired shots into the air during one of the vigil's prayer group meetings. Another supporter deliberately mowed down the memorial crosses and flags placed by the PEACEFUL protestors.

Agree or disagree with Ms. Sheehan..she and her group are meeting peacefully. And they're being met with vicious attacks..both verbally and (peripherally) physically.

If Bush had met with Ms. Sheehan as she asked..he could have put the flame out of the situation from the start. It would not have been unprecedented and it certainly would have been much better PR than what he's generating for himself right now.

Sheehan has touched a nerve with many, many individuals who disagreed with the Iraq invasion and occupation. Yes it's political on her part. It's an inherently political situation when it comes to Iraq.

Bush's ignoring of Sheehan is symbolic of the way he and his team have ignored the many individuals who've expressed concern and dismay over our actions in Iraq. Bush has allowed Sheehan to create that symbol.

5:41 PM, August 18, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Yep, Carla, I'd defend her from any physical attack, just as I would defend anyone who's peacefully exercising his/her right of free speech.

Let me know if some old guy in KKK sheets with a West Virginia accent attacks her with a teeny burning cross or if Jelly Roll Teddy offers her a ride some night in his sedan. I'll come charging in with my posse to defend her.

Yes, some idiot hambone fired off his shotgun a couple of times, on his own property and not in the direction of the protesters. The local sheriff and the Secret Service investigated, and found that no laws were broken. Another fool drove his pick up truck over some of the crosses the protesters put up, and he's been charged with an appropriate offense. Bad taste and stupid behavior extend across all political lines.

5:53 PM, August 18, 2005  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Show me a reasonably reliable quote of Ms. Sheehan criticizing the War on Terrorism in Afghanistan and I'll gladly concede the point. Otherwise my point stands.

If making a valid observation, even if one disagrees with it, is tantamount to extremism then al Queda and their Jihadist buddies are the least of our problems. There'd be precious little worth fighting for...

6:01 PM, August 18, 2005  
Blogger Dingo said...

Another good post Tom. Well put. While I opposed going into Iraq, I support us staying in Iraq until the job is finished. And while I support Cindy's right to protest, I also support those families who are going to the make shift memorial to remove the crosses with the names of their dead sons and daughters.

The one thing that does bother me though about the rhetoric from the right is the assertion that Cindy is politicizing her son's death. Of course she is. But so did Megan's parents in pushing "Megan's law" and Amber's parents in pushing "Amber Alerts." same thing with the father who pushed to the congressional hearing on steroid abuse, and MADD, and etc, etc. Were these parents horrible people? No. They just didn't want it to happen again.

2:30 PM, August 23, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Dingo, I understand your point. But the deceased children you used as examples aren't representative of this case. Casey Sheehan was a professional soldier who voluntarily enlisted and then re-enlisted. He knew the risks, and he chose to take them. No one knows, of course, how he would react to what his mother is doing. But based on my lifetime of dealing with thousands of soldiers like him, I have my own opinion.

Since there's no way to know how he would have reacted or what motivates her in her heart of hearts, everyone should be careful what they say.

6:07 AM, August 25, 2005  

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