08/16/2005: Gem o'the Day, Cindy Sheehan edition:
Catching up with Billmon, who scribed this weekend:
In fact, if Cindy really is a front woman for the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy, as the wing nuts now claim, then you'd almost have to conclude that Bush was in on the planning, too. Hauling the entire White House press corps down to Bumfuck, Texas, so they can spend the better part of August playing cowchip bingo, was a move that seems, in hindsight, almost custom-designed to generate massive media coverage of Cindy's protest. In Washington, she'd be just another face in Lafayette Square (the designated "free speech zone" in front of the White House.) In Crawford, she's the only thing making news within a 500-mile radius. That seems like an awfully high political price to pay to move Bush and his imperial retinue from one volcanic pit of heat and humidity to another for five weeks.
There's more going on here, though, than just the usual seasonal news drought and a bunch of bored-out-their-skulls reporters marooned in the Texas outback. Cindy Sheehan has touched a raw nerve (both with the media and with the GOP propaganda machine) less because of who she is than because of who she isn't -- Jane Fonda.
The wing nuts have been salivating for weeks over the news that Jane plans to hit the anti-war trail again -- this time in a vegetable-oil powered bus. (You really think I could make something like that up?) For pro-war conservatives, this is roughly the same as hearing that the Democrats have decided to put Zippy the Pinhead and Timothy Leary's corpse on the ticket in 2008. From the right's point of view, you couldn't invent a better caricature of a New Age Hollywood zillionaire to be the public face of the anti-war movement. Which is why my own personal reaction to Fonda's plan was: "Why the hell can't she be on their side for a change?"
But, instead of feasting on Hanoi Jane, the wing nuts are driving themselves nuts trying to figure out how to take down Vacaville Cindy: a woman who looks and sounds like she spends her free time organizing church socials and helping her husband clean out the garage -- that is, when she isn't busy searing George W. Bush's butt with a white hot poker for dragging the country into an unnecessary and failed war in Iraq, and getting her son killed in the process.
Don't forget Dick Cheney, Cindy. But you may want to stoke the coals first: It's an awfully big butt.
Some see Sheehan's turn in the spotlight as a demonstration of the weakness and impotence of the anti-war movement. Take, for example, this politically confused columnist for the Seattle Post Intelligencer, who says he's against the war and against Cindy:If the anemic antiwar movement needs a mourning mom to lead the charge against this unjust war, then the movement is in dire straits.Now calling the anti-war movement "anemic" is obviously wrong, since it implies that it actually has a pulse. The truth is that there is nothing that can be plausibly defined as an anti-war "movement" in this country -- just a couple of web sites, some bloggers, a few Democratic congressmen, and an angry Air Force colonel with can of spray paint.
That, plus about 50-60% of the American people, give or take -- at least according to the most recent polls.
There's probably a connection, in other words, between the precipitous decline in popular support for the war and the absence of a highly visible anti-war protest movement that counts people like Jane Fonda among its mascots. As Harold Myerson put it a couple of months ago:However perverse this may sound, the absence of an antiwar movement is proving to be a huge political problem for the Bush administration . . . The administration has no one to demonize. With nobody blocking the troop trains, military recruitment is collapsing of its own accord. With nobody in the streets, the occupation is being judged on its own merits.Without hordes of angry yippies to distract it, the silent majority -- or at least, the non-GOP majority -- has managed to conclude, correctly, that the war cannot be won. Even worse, it seems to have picked up on the fact that the Cheney administration is no longer even trying to win it, but is simply looking frantically for a face-saving way to get out of the swamp. (Or, in Journalish: "lowering its expectations.")
Len on 08.16.05 @ 02:16 PM CST