August 15th, 2005

Right Message, Wrong Mother

“And I'm gonna say, ‘And you tell me, what the noble cause is that my son died for.’ And if he even starts to say freedom and democracy' I'm gonna say, ‘bullshit.

’You tell me the truth. You tell me that my son died for oil. You tell me that my son died to make your friends rich. You tell me my son died to spread the cancer of Pax Americana, imperialism in the Middle East. You tell me that, you don't tell me my son died for freedom and democracy.' .

Cuz, we're not freer. You're taking away our freedoms. The Iraqi people aren't freer, they're much worse off than before you meddled in their country. .

You get America out of Iraq, you get Israel out of Palestine .

And if you think I won't say bullshit to the President, I say move on, cuz I'll say what's on my mind.”

Now, who said all of that? Some crazy-eyed campus protestor, all whipped up into a frenzy now that his or her parents can’t ground him anymore? A bleary-eyed remnant of the Weather Underground, still carrying on the struggle? Ward Churchill? Michael Moore? Sean Penn? .

Believe it or not, the following was part of a speech given by Cindy Sheehan. It was delivered on August 8th, at a Veterans for Peace Convention, just before she decamped to the President’s ranch in Crawford, Texas. .

If it sounds like a far cry from the mild-mannered woman who’s been speaking to the media ever since, that’s probably no accident. If she really wants to talk to W about Iraq - and how her son lost his life there - then hurling that sort of language his way at this time isn’t going to bring him thither. .

The revelation that these words were spoken in her recent past can only add fuel to the fire she’s lit with her vigil. Her detractors were calling her rude things well before this speech was uncovered, but I think this is going to up the ante quite a bit. (Maybe Michelle Malkin will channel the spirit of Casey Sheehan on FOX News so she can reveal just how much he won’t stand for his mom’s actions?).

But this does reveal a good point: there are serious questions we need to be asking the White House about the past, present and future of our conflict in Iraq - questions the mainstream media isn’t asking. But is Cindy Sheehan really the best person to be asking these questions? .

Right now I have to say no. Mrs. Sheehan isn’t the best spokesperson for the anti-war movement in this country for much the same reason the Rev Louis Farrakhan wasn’t the best person to preach leadership and responsibility to African-American men: she’s got too much sour baggage on the road behind, and she can’t strike an even tone while under the spotlights. .

Case in point: from the same speech, “Another thing that I'm doing is - - my son was killed in 2004, so I'm not paying my taxes for 2004. If I get a letter from the IRS, I'm gonna say, you know what, this war is illegal; this is why this war is illegal. This war is immoral; this is why this war is immoral. You killed my son for this. I don't owe you anything. And if I live to be a million, I won't owe you a penny.”.

That’s just crazy shit-talk, quite frankly. And ignoring for the moment how many people threatened a tax strike back when Clinton was President (and where are they now...?) that does not make her sound like the sort of person I want as a spokesperson on my behalf.

That doesn’t make her pain any less real, or her anger any less justified. It certainly doesn’t nullify her right to speak her mind, and gather people together peacefully to get a redress of her grievances. But if she really wants to get the President to see reason - or at least feel the weight of the polls he doesn’t want to acknowledge - then reading him the riot act isn’t going to do it.

Of course, W’s advisors would probably have warned him off of walking into her tent, even if she was as mild as string cheese. But as soon as word of her crazier moments gets passed around, the perception in the public’s eye is going to be less of “why won’t he meet with her?” and more of “Jesus, what’s she on?” .

That’s not how you get the public to come around and see your point of view. That’s how you alienate them, which is what a great deal of the anti-war movement has already done. The polls tell us that more and more people are losing faith in this war and rescinding their earlier support for it, but there’s a hurdle between feeling angry and doing something about it – a hurdle that someone like Cindy Sheehan could have helped us jump, if only she wasn’t damaged goods. .

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