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August 12, 2005

Comments

Heck, in my day, veterans of Vietnam in wheelchairs with medals who criticized the war came under brutal attack. It probably just marks an increase in intensity and a weakening of support.

I myself would not criticize even the most fervent Bush-supporter with such a loss personally or by name; or at least try to avoid criticizing on that particular subject.
But, ya know, people are different.

She is clearly down there with an agenda but that doesn't mean it is ok for some on the right to attempt charachter assassination on the woman. She is now a public figure but I think the intentions of Gold Star mothers should receive the benefit of the doubt.


Well, sure--who said anything about agreeing with her proposals?

You can have lots of views about the right timetable for withdrawal from Iraq (hers is a little faster than the Pentagon's, depending on which trial balloon they're floating), and you can certainly have different different views on Israel & Palestine (without end).

I don't know that *anyone* on the left who is outraged by the right-wing smear-job has been saying "you must agree with her about the timetable for withdrawal, and about the solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict!"

Mostly I have just heard suggestions along the lines of "stop calling her a whore" (as a poster on Red State has, see DKos).

E.g., remember when this was a country where citizens were allowed to speak their minds without becoming, in Rove's parlance, "fair game"?

So I don't know what "hive mind" you have in mind, but I haven't seen you disagree with any I'm aware of.

Family values (n): Insulting the mothers of the war dead when their politics stray off-message.

-- Webster's Dictionary, RedState edition.

One might search the archives for posts from von in the form:

"This is very very wrong, but...."

If this is correct, the family isn't thrilled about Ms. Sheehan's stance:

Our family has been so distressed by the recent activities of Cindy we are breaking our silence and we have collectively written a statement for release. Feel free to distribute it as you wish.

Thanks, Cherie

In response to questions regarding the Cindy Sheehan/Crawford Texas issue: Sheehan Family Statement:

The Sheehan Family lost our beloved Casey in the Iraq War and we have been silently, respectfully grieving. We do not agree with the political motivations and publicity tactics of Cindy Sheehan. She now appears to be promoting her own personal agenda and notoriety at the the expense of her son's good name and reputation. The rest of the Sheehan Family supports the troops, our country, and our President, silently, with prayer and respect.

Sincerely,

Casey Sheehan's grandparents, aunts, uncles and numerous cousins.

Doubtless she's not behaving gracefully, but if my boy had died in this fool's war, god knows what I'd be doing.

Von, please remember just one thing: the President at the press club roast or whatever, a couple of years ago now I think, doing his "gosh, where are the WMD's?" stunt ... pretending to look under the table ...

Now pretend that your son died in the war to stop Saddam from using those WMD's, and that you're watching the Commander in Chief's little skit.

You might not behave too gracefully yourself.

So I don't know what "hive mind" you have in mind, but I haven't seen you disagree with any I'm aware of.

I was referring to ObWi's hive mind. And no one called Cindy Sheehan a "whore"; re-read the comment on RedState.

Sebastian, what bearing does that have on the coordinated smear job being perpetrated against Cindy Sheehan?

Redstate: this time a left wing media whore in the form of a grieving mother

Sebastian, is that letter from the whole "family"? All 4 grandparents? All of Casey's aunts, uncles & cousins on both sides? Did any of them sign it? And, as Blue Neponset says, of what relevance is it?

Okay, here it is (though it besmirches the pixels to repeat it):

""Cindy Sheehan returns entering stage right -- this time a left wing media whore in the form of a grieving mother.

You know, I just think there are some words that you don't use about a grieving mother, even when you disagree with her timetable for withdrawal.

the family isn't thrilled about Ms. Sheehan's stance

according Mrs Sheehan, they didn't know her son anyway.

Look, von, I just think your entire post here is an exercise in misdirection.

hilzoy and others have been saying, to paraphrase, this is a disgraceful way to treat any citizen, and in particular a grieving mother of a son who dutifully defended his country.

You come along and say, to paraphrase, "well, I respectfully disagree; sure it's a disgraceful way to treat her, but some of her proposals are way out there."

What job is the "but" doing in all of that? Are you disagreeing with what the other posters are saying, or not? Can you point to what it is in the other posts that you disagree with?

Would you like to offer more accurate paraphrases of your view, and of the views expressed earlier, so that there will emerge some real opposition, some point to the appearance of "yes-but" ishness?

It hardly matters that her particular thoughts on what should be done are not that focused. That is not the point.

And when is a public protest not a "stunt" in your book? Was Rosa Parks a stuntwoman?

Here's why her actions are effective. She stands squarely for requiring the president to be accountable for all of the decisions that have cost so many lives. The war record is one of grevious mistakes and a fair dose of outright lying -- accountability for that is what Bush prefers to sidestep. He is a coward to his core. Avoiding contact with Sheehan is just more of the same, and her presence exemplifies it like nothing else.

Think how easy it would be for him to meet this issue squarely -- this episode is the culmination of no public funerals re the war dead, no pictures of the coffins, hide the torture pictures, and hundreds of other photo-op talking point nonsense for avoiding real issues.

Except the symbol of a bereaved mother who demands that he face the war issues squarely simply cannot be ignored or dissed as has been the tactic of Bush regarding war critics throughout this entire war. Mind you, the Right is doing everything in its power to slime a bereaved mother since that is their playbook regarding war critics. But it is not working. The tactic of sliming bereaved mothers instead of talking substance -- who thought that up?

By the way, since the post centers around Sheehan's weak proposals, aren't Bush's proposals for dealing with this mess equally lacking in substance? (I defy anyone to articulate them in something other than soundbites that ignore facts on the ground, and please include in your articulation why we are pursuing a policy of long term permanent bases there)

But one can have all these sensible and caring thoughts and still not care much for her proposals

she's not a policy maker.

Bush could've ended this days ago. why didn't he ? what does he gain by letting this thing grow ?

Yea, Sebastian. There's been oodles of coverage of that letter - from the father's parents. The father, strangely enough, supports Cindy. So does Casey's siblings. So what does that say about the grand parents? And in any event, as others have said, what the heck does that have to do with the price of tea in China?

And Von, I must commend you for the sleight of hand in reframing the issue as merely whether or not Cindy's proposals should be open to criticism. As others have pointed out, no one has even suggested that in the slightest.

Cindy isn't camped out in Crawford to demand that we get out of Iraq. She's camped out there to get an answer as to why her son died. Her desire that we leave Iraq isn't at issue here at all.

But, as I said, props on reframing the issue to distract from the central point.

This post didn't need to happen, von, and it reflects poorly on you.

As noted above, the entire point of hilzoy's post was that much of the right-wing blogosphere is being absolutely disgusting in the way they're falling over themselves to smear and attack Cindy. Disagree with her proposals? Fine. Call what she's doing a stunt? Borderline poor taste, given the circumstances, but all right.

None of that is of a kind with the absolutely repugnant things that the Redstate and FR crowd are saying. Your parsing of Erick's "media whore" slur is shameful, and this post ends up being nothing but an apologia for the right-wing smear machine.

I normally have a lot of respect for you, but this post casts your lot with a group and a message that does not do you credit.

Here's what Cindy Sheehan has to say about the letter Sebastian mentions:

...my in-laws sent out a press statement disagreeing with me in strong terms; which is totally okay with me, because they barely knew Casey. We have always been on separate sides of the fence politically and I have not spoken to them since the election when they supported the man who is responsible for Casey's death. The thing that matters to me is that our family -- Casey's dad and my other 3 kids are on the same side of the fence that I am.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/theblog/archive/cindy-sheehan/camp-casey-day-6_5524.html

Who gives a flying rat's ass about the 'other' relatives' letter?

It is a good misdirection stunt, but I fail to see its usefulness to this discussion.

Was just about to post that, Phillip. Now, hopefully, nobody else will bother embarassing themselves by suggesting that what Cindy's in-laws have to say about Casey is any more meaningful than any random person on the net.

Can we stop calling her "Cindy"? How about "Sheehan", or "Cindy Sheehan".

Something about referring to public figures who are women exclusively by their first names is irksome. Sounds condescending, somehow.

I realize there are exceptions. (Hillary? OK sure. Her husband claimed "Clinton" first. Bloggers who sign their posts by their first names? Fine. They want to be known that way.) Neither is the case here.

This post should have addressed the central theme of Sheehan's vigil. She is not there to articulate an Iraq policy -- what is driving this issue is this (rather articulate) statement by Sheehan:

I said I want the president to explain what was the noble cause that my son died in, because that's what he said the other day when those 14 marines were killed. He said their families can rest assured that their sons and daughters died for a noble cause. And I said, "What is that noble cause?"

The only response from Bush are sound bite platitutdes, which no longer work because too many past sound bite platitudes from this president have turned out to be false or downright lies.

So Von, what is your answer to Sheehan's primary point -- what is the noble cause that justifies the ongoing deaths?

Wish you would address that rather than the sideshow regarding her barely thought out policy proposals for the war.

From a PR standpoint, this one was a no-brainer. Bush is on vacation; he can end this news story in an hour by putting in a token appearance for this woman. What does he do? He hangs back, sticks his fingers in his ears and lets it drag on. I just don't get it.

Does he just not want to make any concession to anybody, even when it's clear it would do him the most good? Does he think he's so far above these people that he just doesn't have to deal with them outside a staged event? Is he actually scared of meeting someone who's been hurt by his stupid little war? What's the deal here?

The reason she has to be destroyed is that she's asking a question that, apparently, doesn't really have an answer: "Why did my son die in Iraq?" There's boilerplate threadbare platitudes of course - "freedom" - but really, it doesn't have an answer.

Why did we invade Iraq anyway?

By the by, von, I just saw your follow-up comment at Redstate, and I want to apologize to you. This post, standing on its own, /does/ reflect poorly on you, and I suspect part of that is because your disgust with the smear tactics against Sheehan is diluted by the "yes, but" nature of the post. My apologies for the invective regarding your motivations.

Why did we invade Iraq anyway?

For the glory of the Empire.

I don't see what's wrong with stunts. As pointed out upthread Rosa Parks's decision to sit on the bus was a stunt, not an impulse. Lots of planning went into that act. She was chosen from a group of volunteers for her credibility and the goal was to use the media and the courts to question the Jim Crow laws.
The situation isn't exactly parallel since Ms. Sheehan isn't going to court over anything and she isn't questioning any laws. However she is doing a Rosa Parks type act. She is making a public spectacle of herself to force a question on the President, on the media, and on the public--a question that Bush doesn't want to answer.

I just don't get it.

i've decided it's because he wants to enrage The Base, again. it's been a few weeks since they've had something to seethe about. so they've drawn up a caricature of Cindy Sheehan and they're going to kick it around a bit.

it beats letting the media talk about Plame, DeLay and Abramoff.

There's gotta be a Medium Lobster post for this.

Views of more of Casey Sheehan's relatives (via Attytood): sister, aunt (and scoutmaster!) (Scroll down and look for the highlighted bits.) Also, high school sweetheart.

Of course, this is all meaningless. (When I try to imagine what would happen if my extended family got to comment on stuff I was doing, it's horrible to contemplate. I mean, I had a relative who was kicked off the Goldwater campaign for being too conservative. Really. Also, an uncle who supported Mao and Pol Pot. Really.)

And, fwiw, Tad B. summarizes my views accurately.

Allow me to join the chorus asking wtf the intended point of this post was, especially given that the de facto point is an apologia for a truly disgusting, disgraceful smear job.

thanks, hilzoy, I'm relieved I was somewhere in the ball-park.

(Though when I'm not, there's a simple remedy: the person I misrepresented just says "no, what I meant was this", and then I say "sorry, thanks for clarifying", and then we get back on point. So, von, if I did not summarize *your* views accurately, then I''m all ready to apologize.)

I believe that this success also entitles me to opine about what your children think about your political stances, too.

They are *shocked*, shocked, I tell you!

Children? I have children?

Hi Mum!!

OH NO!!!!!

If anyone is a whore for using the dead to advance their agenda it is the president who practically ran his campaign on 9/11.

In a way, aren't we all hilzoy's children?

Kelsey, he continues to do so with the upcoming Freedom Walk.

My mention of Ron Kovic at the top, which should remind everyone of John Kerry and bitter grudges held for 35 years, is kinda of a statement of relief that we are finally getting somewhere. If y'all wanna stop the war the "dialogue" is gonna get uglier than you can possibly imagine, uglier than I can likely remember. Physical.

Speaking of the war, to honor Ms Sheehan, though she might not like what I say, this link from TAPPED is getting around the sphere:

Sam Rosenfeld puts myself under an arc light

abb1, over at Crooked Timber, in a similar fight over some Eugene Volokh statements

Ted Barlow

(no no you can't blog everything) tried to turn a mudfight into a discussion of the war. But soon all discussions will be mudfights.

For the record, I still support the war, with the very heaviest heart imaginable, for I believe for the indefinite future everyone, everyone, in Iraq, in America, in the world will be worse off if we leave. This did not need to be, I prefer to think, partly for the sake of my soul.

Endgame in Iraq Newberry

"For those who've been in, or to, a failed state, it is a condition to be avoided with every resource and every effort available. Because without stability there is no peace, and without peace, there will be no prosperity. Failure to secure the Middle East now will assure that in the future the US will be forced to reinvade Iraq when it disintegrates, or threatens to. This third invasion will be longer, bloodier and more expensive than the last two." ...Newberry

For the record, I still support the war, with the very heaviest heart imaginable, for I believe for the indefinite future everyone, everyone, in Iraq, in America, in the world will be worse off if we leave.

Technically, this means you support the occupation. Your support for the war is, I'd argue, a different matter -- although somewhat moot since I'm not sure how "the war" is being defined any more (if it was ever defined in the first place).

On the Volokh challenge, I'm a little confused by the parameters. I, for one, think that Iraqis have a legal right to resist the American occupation provided they adhere to the standards specified under international law. I also 1) passionately wish they would not exercise that right, 2) believe many, though not all, of the resisters/insurgents to be in violation of those standards (as well as other standards like basic human decency).

The question is this: would the second sentence in the previous paragraph qualify as a "pretty unambiguous" example of...

...defend[ing] the Iraqi insurgents, or at least justify[ing] their actions as being a supposed campaign for self-determination, allegedly justifiable rage at Western misbehavior, and so on.

despite my subsequent clarifications? That is, does Volokh seek people who justify the actions taken by the resisters/insurgents or merely the act of resistance? This to me is a highly non-trivial distinction, in large part because it's so often deliberately obscured the better to hurl imprecations, and I'd like it maintained as clearly as possible.

"Who gives a flying rat's ass about the 'other' relatives' letter?"

Umm, I don't know. Who really cares what Ms. Sheehan thinks? Apparently quite a few people. I don't see what is particularly shocking about the fact that a mother whose son gets killed in a war might become embittered about it. But not to be too harsh, but what of it? I fail to see why that is a newsworthy story at all, though apparently many in the media do.

"That is, does Volokh seek people who justify the actions taken by the resisters/insurgents or merely the act of resistance?"

This seems to me to be a highly artificial distinction. In theory the act of resistance may be good or bad. As actually practiced in Iraq it is bad. When people seek to justify the actions of the insurgents, it doesn't matter if it is theoretically possible for some resistance somewhere to be good. This insurgency, with the aim of the apparent aim of establishing an oppressive Islamist regime (by one half of the insurgents) or a Baath Party/Facist government (by the other half) is not. The fact that both parts of the insurgency have to get rid of US influence before they can go to civil war against each other so that whichever one wins gets to set up their atrocious government doesn't make 'resistance' in this case a good thing.

The justification isn't about theoretical resistance. It is about the actual resistance. Theoretically all the atoms in my body could have a simultaneous quantum fluctuation causing me to pass through the chair I'm sitting in. In practice, sitting on this chair is a stable position.

Anarch: one of the advantages of being female is not having to worry that you might all be my children in a literal way. I mean, I have been known to be absent-minded, but I don't think I could have failed to notice that.

Still whatever the way in which you are all my children (?), I'm sure my Mom will be delighted, in that very same way.

I don't see what is particularly shocking about the fact that a mother whose son gets killed in a war might become embittered about it. But not to be too harsh, but what of it?

It's not Sheehan herself that's at issue here, IMO; it's Bush's carelessness, indifference and intransigence that are keeping this issue front-and-center. The coverage is still focussed on Sheehan because the media are constitutionally incapable (irony very much intended) of fully coming to grips with the real story. It's even conceivable, though unlikely, that they'll finally grow a pair and use this incident to revitalize their coverage of the Bush Administration. I ain't holdin' my breath though.

I fail to see why that is a newsworthy story at all, though apparently many in the media do.

Well, you know, it's August. There are no new product introductions to cover.

>Children? I have children?

There's...there's...something I've been meaning to tell you...

Let me introduce you to little Bide-a-wee...

"It's not Sheehan herself that's at issue here, IMO; it's Bush's carelessness, indifference and intransigence that are keeping this issue front-and-center."

What claim does a mother of a dead soldier have to meet with the President twice--especially when it appears that she doesn't like him much? That isn't neglect of Bush's responsibilities as a President or a human being.

"it's Bush's carelessness, indifference and intransigence that are keeping this issue front-and-center."

I think this is exactly right. This story could easily have gone nowhere; instead, it resonates, and that's (a large part of) why.

I should also say: having spent some of my formative years watching my Dad get protested against, I thought a lot about ways of dealing with protesters. My Dad, when buildings were being occupied and the like, and he was talking with the occupiers, would always bring them coffee and donuts. He never did this to get any sort of mileage out of it; he's just a decent guy, the kind of person who doesn't forget that people are people, and might be hungry, just because they happen to be occupying his office.

Watching that, though, it was always clear to me that bringing people coffee and doughnuts, and generally not forgetting that they are people to whom you can show basic humanity, was also politically smart. For one thing, it tended to throw people off guard: this was not what they expected. It tended as well to sidestep whatever confrontational script they had worked out, and allow everyone to function as people. Or at any rate, it had a better chance than anything else I ever saw.

It would have been easy for Bush to meet with Sheehan, preferably at the outset, just as a human gesture. It might have defused the whole thing. But suppose it wouldn't: suppose Sheehan is just hell-bent on publicity and dragging Bush's name through the mud, etc. etc. etc. She would have had a much harder time doing it than she does now. (I never noticed that the donuts actually cost my Dad in any way, or that anyone took them as a concession or a sign of weakness. He wouldn't have cared, in any case.)

What's keeping the story alive, imho, is two things. First, a lot of people share her question. There were no WMDs. Saddam was not connected to 9/11. It's not completely clear that the Iraqis are better off. So: why? But the second is that the fact that he won't meet with her, that he drove right by her today in his motorcade without even slowing down, shows something about Bush.

The reason President Bush will not meet Cindy Sheehan is that he does not handle himself well in situations where he directly faces opposition. There's no way he could come out looking good from a meeting with her. Hence, he won't meet her.

Seb: what claim did the occupying students have to my Dad's donuts? None. Still, he brought them. (And I was the one who overthought all this; as I said, he just did it instinctively, as far as I could tell.)

ral: Sure he could. He might not know it, but it's easy. They meet, alone. She comes out and says what she wants. He refuses to discuss their conversation, out of concern for her privacy. He comes off well. If she slams him, she does not.

Not so hard.

And Saiyuk: I am so not going there.

"Seb: what claim did the occupying students have to my Dad's donuts? None. Still, he brought them."

Ok, but failing to bring them would have been "carelessness, indifference and intransigence"? I guess I don't see it.

Hilzoy, sure, if he were a different person. Then a lot of things would be different. You know I agree with your point of view -- I am just making a prediction here and explaining my mind reading.

ral: Agreed as to his motives.

Seb: I took Anarch's comment to refer to Bush's conduct (a) in general, and (b) in prosecuting the war in particular. At least, 'carelessness' seems much more appropriate to (e.g.) the failure to plan for the occupation (or to see that someone had before he invaded) than to anything about meeting or not meeting Cindy Sheehan. I should have said that before replying to your question, which was about the meeting.

His failure to meet with her seems to me to show a lack both of decent gut reactions and of good political instincts.

Mr. Holsclaw--

Granting that you think the story of Ms. Sheehan really does not deserve that much coverage to begin with (not newsworthy), do you also agree that subjecting her to personal attacks (as O'Reilly, Malkin, and the right-wing blogs have) is despicable and should be denounced? E.g., do you agree with the Cunning Realist as quoted in hilzoy's earlier post?

Ya know, sorry , but it must be obvious I am not really excited over the Sheehan story. I kinda enjoyed this tho...

"The fact that both parts of the insurgency have to get rid of US influence before they can go to civil war against each other so that whichever one wins gets to set up their atrocious government" ...Sebastian

Juan Cole on umm, Negotiations The post preceding this link is good too. SCIRI grabbing 9 southern provinces as the new nation "Sumer", at some expense to DAWA

"And thus, this rush to a constitution, mainly for the benefit of the Bush administration, which wants it done so Bush can gracefully begin exiting next year in time to affect the 2006 congressional races, is highly unwise. It may well contribute to the outbreak of a civil war in the future in Iraq (I mean a big conventional civil war with whole armies ranged against one another)." ...Juan Cole, who predicts Bush with more confidence than I

Federalism in Iraq Here are some Democrats who think partition just hunky dory, cause it will bring stability. What are they smoking?

Bob, I think at this point most people realize the probable outcomes of the war in Iraq run a narrow gamut from "pretty bad" to "ghastly," and they're trying to envision some outcomes that are marginally less awful than others.

It seems the choices are:

1. A unified Iraq run by a Saddam-style strongman, aligned with Iran.
2. A 'unified' Iraq wracked by civil war, aligned with Iran.
3. A partioned Iraq, with a somewhat more liberal democracy in Kurdistan possibly aligned with the West, and a somewhat democratic theocracy to the South aligned with Iran.

The first two are worse scenarios than the status quo before the war. The last one is... the least bad.


CaseyL: unless option 3 turns into option 4: a partitioned or (perhaps) partitioning Iraq, wracked by what would have been civil war had the state not (begun to) split apart; or, worse still, but I think more likely, option 5: 4, only with the intervention of Turkey and possibly Iran. (I mean: Iran's tacit intervention is a given under all scenarios; the question is whether its troops get involved.)

Why 3 breaks down: (a) Kirkuk. Bad, bad, bad. (b) other not particularly clear and sharp boundaries, and the disinclination of all parties to "abandon" people to the tender mercies of their enemies. (c) Sunni unwillingness to get stuck with a bunch of desert and no oil.

Why 5 is a serious possibility: If Turkey will sit by and watch a Kurdish state come into existence, I will be amazed.

Which is why I am not sure at all that 3 is the least bad. Also why I wish we'd done it right if we had to do it at all. (It being the invasion, obviously.) All the choices are awful.

Sebastian:

I fail to see why that is a newsworthy story at all, though apparently many in the media do.

Well, (aside from the summer lull explanation which typifies media behavior) no one can articulate a decent answer to Sheehan's question, and that is part of the story. Bush's shunning of the issue is the other part of the story. Her presence outside the Crawford Ranch simply serves to dramatize it, but this is the newsworthy story:

I said I want the president to explain what was the noble cause that my son died in, because that's what he said the other day when those 14 marines were killed. He said their families can rest assured that their sons and daughters died for a noble cause. And I said, "What is that noble cause?"

Care to take a stab at an answer? And why do you think it irrelevant that Bush cannot articulate a decent answer to the question?

d) I am not so confident that the Southern Shia sector, with the competition between SCIRI and DAWA and others, will be all that stable.

e) which is connected to c) there are parties with a great interest in making sure "Sumer" is not stable, and the means to mess it up

"Care to take a stab at an answer?"

Sure. As the oil runs out, the Greater Middle East is going to become Hell on Earth, spitting Fire and Brimstone on the rest of us. We at best have two generations, although the effects are showing up already. It would be noble to make that transition as painless as possible, for them and for us. It will probably involve a large decrease on OPEC production, in order to wean the oilacracies off the rentier economy, and to move to a measured sustainable development.

Human beings are rarely this noble. I think this would necessitate, for instance, China & India being permanently one development stage behind the West. It will cost vast money and technology to transition to an low oil economy, and China can't get there without oil.

Nice to know we've spent so much blood, honor, and money for a "noble cause" that comes down to creating another post-Tito Yugoslavia.

On topic: a busload of Bush's True Believers went down to Camp Casey to spend half an hour jeering "We don't care!" at Cindy Sheehan.

I know we're not supposed to say bad things about Bush's supporters, but it occurs to me that it takes a cast iron gut and a set of iron-clad blinders for the less demented to keep ignoring the company they're keeping.

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