Monday, August 22, 2005

The Swift Boating of Cindy Sheehan

I probably should add before I post this that I don't want to endorse everything that Ms. Sheehan says or does. I do believe that the President has every right not to go talk to her. It is also my opinion that such a decision was and is a political disaster. --To say nothing of traipsing off on a month-long vacation while the American military is at war. -- It is a decision that is now haunting every move this administration makes.

This is from a NYTimes editorial by Frank Rich: The Swift Boating of Cindy Sheehan

Once again Bush was in his bubble, ensuring that he wouldn't see Sheehan coming. So it goes with a president who hasn't foreseen any of the setbacks in the war he fabricated against an enemy who did not attack inside the United States in 2001.

When these setbacks happen in Iraq itself, the administration punts. But when they happen at home, there's a game plan. Once Sheehan could no longer be ignored, the Swift Boating began. Character assassination is the Karl Rove tactic of choice, eagerly mimicked by his media surrogates, whenever the White House is confronted by a critic who challenges it on matters of war.

When the Bush mob attacks critics like Sheehan, its highest priority is to change the subject. If we talk about Richard Clarke's character, then we stop talking about the administration's pre-9/11 inattentiveness to terrorism. If Thomas Wilson is trashed as an insubordinate plant of the "liberal media," we forget the Pentagon's abysmal failure to give our troops adequate armor. If we focus on Valerie Plame, Joseph Wilson's wife, we lose the big picture of how the administration twisted intelligence to gin up the threat of Saddam's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.

Cindy Sheehan's bashers, you'll notice, almost never tell her son's story.

They are afraid to go there because this young man's life and death encapsulate not just the noble intentions of those who went to fight this war but also the hubris, incompetence and recklessness of those who gave the marching orders.

Specialist Sheehan was both literally and figuratively an Eagle Scout: a church group leader and honor student whose desire to serve his country drove him to enlist before 9/11, in 2000. He died with six other soldiers on a rescue mission in Sadr City on April 4, 2004, at the age of 24, the week after four American security workers had been mutilated in Fallujah and two weeks after he arrived in Iraq. This was almost a year after the president had declared the end of "major combat operations" from the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln.

But this White House no longer has any more control over the insurgency at home than it does over the one in Iraq.
The sad thing about this to me is that these right-wing attacks on Ms. Sheehan are just as much attacks on you and me. These people - the Bush Administration, right-wing pundits, and the mainstream media that supports them - think that we are so stupid, that we will become distracted by these ridiculous partisan assaults. Unfortunately, so often we have been...hopefully not this time.

Regardless of whether or not every person agrees with Ms. Sheehan and the way she is going about expressing her opposition - she has an absolute right to that opposition.

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