Mark Steyn On Cindy Sheehan
blueoval at 1SMARTISP.NET
Mon Aug 22 12:57:32 MDT 2005
'Peace Mom's' marriage a metaphor for Dems
August 21, 2005
BY MARK STEYN SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST
Cindy Sheehan's son Casey died in Sadr City last year, and that
fact is supposed to put her beyond reproach. For as the New York
Times' Maureen Dowd informed us: ''The moral authority of parents
who bury children killed in Iraq is absolute."
Really? Well, what about those other parents who've buried
children killed in Iraq? There are, sadly, hundreds of them: They
honor their loved ones' service to the nation, and so they don't
make the news. There's one Cindy Sheehan, and she's on TV 'round
the clock. Because, if you're as heavily invested as Dowd in the
notion that those "killed in Iraq" are "children," then Sheehan's
status as grieving matriarch is a bonanza.
They're not children in Iraq; they're grown-ups who made their own
decision to join the military. That seems to be difficult for the
left to grasp. Ever since America's all-adult, all-volunteer army
went into Iraq, the anti-war crowd have made a sustained effort to
characterize them as "children." If a 13-year-old wants to have an
abortion, that's her decision and her parents shouldn't get a
look-in. If a 21-year-old wants to drop to the broadloom in Bill
Clinton's Oval Office, she's a grown woman and free to do what she
wants. But, if a 22- or 25- or 37-year-old is serving his country
overseas, he's a wee "child" who isn't really old enough to know
what he's doing.
I get many e-mails from soldiers in Iraq, and they sound a lot
more grown-up than most Ivy League professors and certainly than
Maureen Dowd, who writes like she's auditioning for a minor
supporting role in ''Sex And The City.''
The infantilization of the military promoted by the left is deeply
insulting to America's warriors but it suits the anti-war crowd's
purposes. It enables them to drone ceaselessly that "of course"
they "support our troops," because they want to stop these poor
confused moppets from being exploited by the Bush war machine.
I resisted writing about "Mother Sheehan" (as one leftie has
proposed designating her), as it seemed obvious that she was at
best a little unhinged by grief and at worst mentally ill. It's
one thing to mourn a son's death and even to question the cause
for which he died, but quite another to roar that he was "murdered
by the Bush crime family."
Also: "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 . . .
You get America out of Iraq, you get Israel out of Palestine."
And how about this? "America has been killing people on this
continent since it was started. This country is not worth dying
for." That was part of her warm-up act for a speech by Lynne
Stewart, the "activist" lawyer convicted of conspiracy for aiding
the terrorists convicted of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
You can see why Lynne's grateful to Sheehan. But why is Elizabeth
Edwards sending out imploring letters headlined "Support Cindy
Sheehan's Right To Be Heard"? The politics of this isn't
difficult: The more Cindy Sheehan is heard the more obvious it is
she's thrown her lot in with kooks most Americans would give a
wide berth to.
Don't take my word for it, ask her family. Casey Sheehan's
grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins put out the following
"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 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."
Ah, well, they're not immediate family, so they lack Cindy's
"moral authority." But how about Casey's father, Pat Sheehan? Last
Friday, in Solano County Court, Casey's father Pat Sheehan filed
for divorce. As the New York Times explained Cindy's "separation,"
"Although she and her estranged husband are both Democrats, she
said she is more liberal than he is, and now, more radicalized."
Toppling Saddam and the Taliban (Mrs. Sheehan opposes U.S.
intervention in Afghanistan, too), destroying al-Qaida's training
camps and helping 50 million Muslims on the first steps to free
societies aren't worth the death of a single soldier. But Cindy
Sheehan's hatred of Bush is worth the death of her marriage.
Watching her and her advanced case of Bush Derangement Syndrome on
TV, I feel the way I felt about that mentally impaired Aussie
concert pianist they got to play at the Oscars a few years ago.
Yet in the wreckage of Pat and Cindy Sheehan's marriage there is
surely a lesson for the Democratic Party. As Cindy says, they're
both Democrats, but she's "more liberal" and "more radicalized."
There are a lot of less liberal and less radicalized Dems out
there: They're soft-left-ish on health care and the environment
and education and so forth; many have doubts about the war, but
they love their country, they have family in the military, and
they don't believe in dishonoring American soldiers to make a
political point. The problem for the Democratic Party is that the
Cindys are now the loudest voice: Michael Moore, Howard Dean,
Moveon.org, and Air America, the flailing liberal radio network
distracting attention from its own financial scandals by flying
down its afternoon host Randi Rhodes to do her show live from Camp
Casey. The last time I heard Miss Rhodes she was urging soldiers
called up for Iraq to refuse to go -- i.e., to desert.
On unwatched Sunday talk shows, you can still stumble across the
occasional sane, responsible Dem. But, in the absence of any
serious intellectual attempt to confront their long-term decline,
all the energy on the left is with the fringe. The Democratic
Party is a coalition of Pat Sheehans and Cindy Sheehans, and the
noisier the Cindys get the more estranged the Pats are likely to
Sorry about that, but, if Mrs. Sheehan can insist her son's corpse
be the determining factor in American policy on Iraq, I don't see
why her lost marriage can't be a metaphor for the state of the
Casey Sheehan was a 21-year old man when he enlisted in 2000. He
re-enlisted for a second tour, and he died after volunteering for
a rescue mission in Sadr City. Mrs. Sheehan says she wishes she'd
driven him to Canada, though that's not what he would have wished,
and it was his decision.
His mother has now left Crawford, officially because her mother
has had a stroke, but promising to return. I doubt she will.
Perhaps deep down she understands she's a woman whose grief
curdled into a narcissistic rage, and most Americans will not
follow where she's gone -- to the wilder shores of anti-Bush,
anti-war, anti-Iraq, anti-Afghanistan, anti-Israel, anti-American
paranoia. Casey Sheehan's service was not the act of a child. A
shame you can't say the same about his mom's new friends.
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