Fulcrum Ruminations

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Bread and Circuses, Texas Style

You'd have to have been living on the dark side of the moon to have avoided the Cindy Sheehan story. In a nutshell, Ms. Sheehan is a woman whose son Casey was killed in Iraq some months ago. Casey Sheehan was a soldier in the Army, and had in fact re-enlisted after completing his first tour. Ms. Sheehan, in quite understandable grief over the loss of her son, has gone to President Bush's home town of Crawford, Texas to demand a face-to-face meeting with the President. She says she wants Bush to explain why her son had to die.

In general I agree with and approve of Ms. Sheehan's effort. One of the rights we as Americans enjoy is the right to petition our government for redress of greivances. By going to Bush's home turf and demanding he account for himself, Ms. Sheehan is exercising a Constitutionally protected right. This is proper and just.

However, there are two major problems which also make it perfectly clear why Bush can not meet with her as she wants. First, this would set a terrible precedent. Every future President would face an endless stream of protesters demanding face-to-face meetings to account for whatever unpopular action they had committed. It would never end. And, to be perfectly blunt, Presidents have better things to do with their time than explain themselves to individual Americans every time someone decides they messed up. That's what press conferences and the Sunday talk shows are for. :-P

Secondly, the Make George Look Bad crowd has seized on Ms. Sheehan as a poster child. Everyone from loopy bloggers (Hi Ma!) to Michael Moore has jumped on this bandwagon. Ms. Sheehan's original purpose has gotten overwhelmed. It's no longer "Why did my son die?" it's "George Bush is a poopie-head!"

I think Ms. Sheehan is going to discover that once her utility as a stalking horse is done with, none of these people currently flocking to her banner is going to remember who she was. They'll have MoveOn.org'ed to the next "George Bush is a poopie-head" story.

There is also a backlash gaining traction against her. Her family has apparently distanced themselves from her, her husband either already has or is in the process of divorcing her, and the predictable "George is Our Saviour" crowd is rushing to the attack. There will be much ugliness before the story has run its course.

And all because Ms. Sheehan doesn't seem to understand that her son was engaged in a profession he found to be honorable and just.

The realpolitik of the situation is that we can't pull out of Iraq at this point. The country would dissolve into chaos and civil war, with a bloodbath that would make the last couple years look like a Boy Scout Jamboree. No Arab government or people would trust us again, the jihadists would have a major propaganda victory, and the terrorsts would be emboldened to strike at us even more ferociously. Pulling out before we're done would be the worst possible thing we could do. It would mean that Casey Sheehan really did die for nothing.

That's an unconscionable thing to do to a soldier.

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