I mainly read the New York Daily News for sports, but I do skim their online front page. Occasionally I’ll notice a blurb for an op-ed column by Michael Goodwin, and it’s almost always full of virulent right-wing bile that verges on parody. They have another columnist named Michael Daly who leans in the other direction, but I can never remember which Michael is which until I see their headshot or read some text.
Well, today I started reading a column by one of the Michaels, and the picture was loading slowly, and I was absolutely sure that it had to be the “good” Michael, since it was talking about how Cindy Sheehan was majorly harshing President Tough Guy’s mellow. Much to my surprise, I was wrong. The wild-eyed right-wing columnist was the one saying:
Sheehan lost her son Casey in Iraq and now the President is paying the piper. He is a hostage to Sheehan’s little band of protesters camped near his ranch in Crawford, Tex. This is not how the President wanted to spend his vacation. He has only himself to blame. Bush’s decision to spend a full month in Texas was stunningly stupid. With Americans turning solidly against the war – a Newsweek poll reported a mere 34% now approve of his handling of Iraq – the President looks callous when the nation needs reassuring. And he could be losing his last bit of leverage over public opinion. Put it this way: no support, no war.
Now he’s stuck in Texas with Sheehan. If he meets with her, as she demands, she wins. If he cuts his visit short and scurries back to Washington, she wins. If he stays, she also wins, as she did yesterday.
Bush can’t win against a grieving, articulate, angry mother who’s willing to spend August in a roadside ditch publicizing her cause. Each new casualty in Iraq adds to her power and subtracts from his.
There is a chance that Sheehan is just the media flavor of the month. But I wouldn’t bet on it. This feels like a turning point. It’s happened before.
He does take a bunch of cheap shots at the usual targets like Michael Moore and Howard Dean and the liberal anti-war media, but still. Whoa.
August 17th, 2005 at 08:03pm
Posted by Eli
Entry Filed under: Bush
LIMBAUGH: I mean, Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There’s nothing about it that’s real, including the mainstream media’s glomming onto it. It’s not real. It’s nothing more than an attempt. It’s the latest effort made by the coordinated left.
You’re in the right ballpark grammatically, Rush. But Casey Sheehan’s death wasn’t a lie – it was for a lie. I really hope Cindy asks Rush just what exactly he meant by this.
Hat tip to four legs good in Eschaton comments for the quote!
August 17th, 2005 at 12:22am
Posted by Eli
Entry Filed under: Cindy Sheehan
This is another one of those posts where I try to pull together some musings that have been scattered here and there in comments, in this case some thoughts on Cindy@Crawford, who I think is more of a threat to Bush than Plamegate could ever be.
To elaborate: Unless and until there are indictments or maybe even convictions in L’Affaire Plame, I don’t think it’s devastating, because there’s simply too much room to bandy about half-truths and technicalities and just generally obfuscate and murk things up. Oh, she wasn’t really covert. Oh, they didn’t really out her. Oh, they didn’t really know she was covert. Oh, it’s not really a crime, and anyway, the president didn’t know about it. And so on, and so on. Enough reality has seeped through to severely damage Bush’s poll numbers on honesty – which was supposed to be one of his advantages over those sleazy, morally relativist Democrats – but I don’t think it’s fatal, and I think it’s something that people will forget about when the next blonde girl runs away and gets eaten by a shark. It’ll stay in the back of their minds and they won’t trust Bush quite as unconditionally as they used to, but many of them will still trust him more than the Democrats, which is all he really needs.
On the other hand, Bush’s treatment of Cindy Sheehan damages him on multiple levels, and strikes to the very core of his carefully crafted character. Bush is supposed to be strong and resolute, but he’s afraid to “confront” the mother of a soldier who died in his war. He’s supposed to be a “compassionate conservative”, and a salt-of-the-earth man’s man who cares deeply about our troops, yet he allows his minions to tell the aforementioned mother to stay in the ditch, and threaten to arrest her. All of this exposes his cowardice, arrogance, and unaccountability in a way that the Democrats have never been able to make stick. And it does it in a way that’s almost impossible to spin or obfuscate. There are no legal technicalities here, no confusion to sow – everyone understands the situation, and everyone knows Bush is ducking and covering. So far, the talking points I’ve heard have been that Cindy flip-flopped from her initial reaction to meeting Bush, and that her dead son wouldn’t approve of what she’s doing(!), and both of those are weak and beside the point.
The only thing that would be better is if Bush actually gives in and talks to her… on camera. Remember his peevish reaction to European interviewers who were not properly deferential? Now imagine him snapping at a dead troop’s mother on national television. I suspect she would snap back, which would just make him even meaner. This could be the Dead Zone moment I’ve been waiting for, where he finally exposes his true colors for all to see.
Of course, as always, much depends on how much interest the media has in covering this story. There’s certainly a good chance that the corporate ownership will be more than willing to forgo a powerful and compelling story to protect their sugar daddy. Their ability to obsessively and breathlessly cover celebrity trials and missing white girls, even in the absence of any meaningful updates, should translate very well to this sort of long-term vigil situation.
I also wanted to make a comment about strategy: I know there’s an impulse to send as many people as possible down to Crawford for a show of solidarity, and to draw more media attention.
Cindy doesn’t need more people to make her a more compelling story – she carries more weight as a lonely, solitary figure than she does at the center of a giant impromptu political rally. How much impact would those photos of her vigil have if she was surrounded by people waving signs and chanting slogans? More importantly, it makes her easier to frame and dismiss (and arrest) as the MoveOn-backed ringleader of an unruly, dangerous mob stalking the president. I don’t mind her having a support system of friends, and/or a posse of other war widows and bereaved mothers (just try arresting all of them, I dare you) – I just don’t want to see this turn into a Democrat-sponsored circus that makes Cindy look like a partisan tool. In other words, less really is more.
Oh, and I would be remiss if I did not mention that Viggo Mortensen stopped by “Camp Casey” today…
August 11th, 2005 at 05:26pm
Posted by Eli
Entry Filed under: Bush