Sunday, August 14, 2005

Why Cindy Sheehan matters

Cindy Sheehan has every right to be angry. She lost a son in a war that turns out to have been based on a lie - that Saddam Hussein's Iraq posed an imminent threat to our national security.
Whether President Bush knowingly propigated this lie, or was just duped by somebody else's lie does not matter - the results are the same.
Ever since Mrs. Sheehan decided to protest against the war outside Bush's vacation retreat in Crawford, Texas, she has been hailed by the left and vilified by the right.
The other day she gave an angry speech to a group called Veterans for Peace in which she at one point referred to President Bush as a "lying bastard" and later on used the word "bullshit".

For this she has been condemned by the right and called "a hate-filled, foul-mouthed toady of the anti-war movement".
This of course is coming from the same people who laughed when President Bush referred to a New York Times reporter as a "Major Leage a--hole" ("Big Time!" chimed in Vice President Dick Cheney). Or who thought it was no big deal when, on the floor of the Senate, Dick Cheney told a Democratic Senator to go and F@@@ himself.
It may not have been politically wise or correct to call President Bush a lying bastard, but Cindy Sheehan is not a politician. She is something much worse in the eyes of the Bush administration - she is a grieving mother who has not been consoled by all of the happy talk coming out of Washington about how we are advancing freedom and democracy with our military presence in Iraq.

Once it was determined that there were no WMDs in Iraq - the slender reed upon which Bush based his decision to invade - the rationale for our military intervention was cut down at the knees. They have since tried to shift the focus to promoting democracy and freedom - but quite frankly that is B.S., just as Sheehan said.
Given the choice, I think there would be very few people who would be willing to sacrifice their lives or the lives of their children and loved ones for that reason.
It may sound callous, but that is the truth. If our national security is not at stake, and we now know without a doubt that it was not, then folks are not going to line up to fight somebody else's battle. We all want the Iraqi people to live in peace and freedom, but we cannot step in and transform their society for them. We can give them aid and assistance. We can impose sanctions and support worldwide efforts to negotiate changes, but unless there is a genocide underway or some other extreme circumstance, we do not spend 100s of billions of dollars and lay down the lives of thousands of our soldiers.

Bush and Co. know this and they have been hoping that they can keep everyone distracted with the "War on Terror" so that we will not notice what has been going on. The war that they thought would last just a few weeks has now dragged on for two years and looks to have no clear end in sight. Now their worst fear is being realized in the form of Mrs. Sheehan and these other families who have lost loved ones and who are now demanding answers.
The answers won't be forthcoming because there are no good answers. The Bush team is currently trying to ratchet down expectations of what they hope to accomplish in Iraq and are busy making plans for a major troop withdrawal in time for the 2006 mid-term elections. Unfortunately for the Bush administration, Mrs. Sheehan is not going to go away any time soon and the rightwing efforts to vilify her are falling flat. Perhaps that is because she has already lived through the worst possible torture, so any name calling by Bush denizens today falls far short of having the desired stinging effect.

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