Buffalo BEAST - Buffalo's New Best Fiend
 

August 24 - September 7, 2005
Issue #82

  ..Buffalo's Best Fiend
   
Evolution Rock
Jesus or Darwin? An ultimatum
Allan Uthman

Keepin' it Real
Cindy Sheehan, representin'
Shawn Ewald

It's Gettin' Hot in Here
Global Warming: Warming the Globe?
Kit Smith
Large & in Charge
Bob Wilmers, Buffalo's control freak
Donnie Dobovich
People Like You
You people just don't get it

Michael Manville

No Strategy, Just Exit
Fractured left threatens itself

Stan Goff

The Real Greatest Americans
Screw the Discovery Channel
Erich Schulte

The BEAST BLOG
Buffalo in Briefs
The Sports Blotter
The Week in Sports Crime
Page 3
Celebrity Math
Separated at Birth?
Beast-O-Scopes
Kino Korner: Movies
[sic] - Letters
 Cover Page

COMIX:
Idiot Box
Perry Bible Fellowship
Bob the Angry Flower

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Keeping it Real
Cindy Sheehan be representin'
Shawn Ewald

The mainstream press just doesn’t know what to do about Cindy Sheehan, the 48-year-old mother who has been holding a vigil outside of George Bush’s compound in Crawford, Texas, in an effort to get answers from him about her son Casey, a US Army mechanic killed in Iraq. She’s not a hippie or an opportunist or a politician, she’s simply not one of the usual suspects that are so easily dismissed but, bless them, the press are doing their damnedest to find a way.

A recent article in Time magazine (“A Mother and the President,” 08/14) takes the “immature middle-aged kook wrecks family over lost cause” angle. The Time article describes her “high, almost childlike voice” and further infantilizes her with “She says like as often as any teenager, as in, ‘This whole thing was like so freaking spur of the moment.’ ” The article also describes the strain she has put on her family and notes her recent separation from her husband. Between these offhand attempts at character assassination, Time staff writer Amanda Ripley peppers her piece with comments from White House staffers, who whine about the impracticality of Bush meeting with Sheehan — “Does he have a second meeting with every mother or wife who asks for one?” — and openly admit that they’re merely waiting for the right moment to attack: “...Bush’s team cannot fire back hard, as it usually does when it is criticized. Sheehan must be handled, as an adviser to the President put it, ‘very carefully.’ And that’s what it has been struggling to do.”

The Time article is just one example of the poking-and-sniffing strategy much of the mainstream press has taken with Sheehan, looking for a weakness, diligently trying to sniff out something dirty, while taking great pains to not appear to be doing so. For the moment, even troglodyte-operated newspapers like the New York Daily News are running positive, or at least neutral, articles about Sheehan’s protest (“War foes intensify Tex. vigil,” 08/13) and the right-wing press has been left with nothing to report but pissy little stories like the August 14th piece from Fox News entitled “Bush Neighbor Suffers Protest Fatigue.”

Cindy Sheehan has accomplished with her small vigil what thousands of protestors in the streets of New York, San Francisco, and Washington were not able to: forcing the mainstream press and the government to pay attention to the American people’s opposition to the war in Iraq. One could argue that she has found herself in the right place at the right time, with polls increasingly showing general discontent over the Iraq occupation and body counts steadily rising as the situation seems more and more intractable to even the average ill-informed American. But what has really made people pay attention is that she is shockingly real; she is an ordinary, inarticulate middle-aged woman who has lost a son in an illegal war based on outright lies, and who is gutsy and angry enough to put her entire life on hold to get in the president’s face. She has managed to attract the support of other average people who share her anger, and who would never have dreamed of going to an antiwar protest until now. Whatever the reason for her success, the fact remains that through her simple act of protest she has surpassed the best efforts of the existing leftist antiwar movement, striking a chord with many people across the nation. Unfortunately, all this may come to an end soon, because the Left wants to help.

What I mean by the Left is the highly divergent, land-of-broken-toys assortment of ideologies and movements that have been forever at odds with each other, yet are stuck together because they are too small or incompetent to strike out on their own and because no one else will have them. From Michael Moore to DailyKos to the Revolutionary Communist Party, the lefty cavalry has come to the rescue, glomming onto Sheehan’s protest, convinced that she needs their support. I have been an activist in many left movements for over a decade and I know from personal experience that there are many people on the Left who are sincere and well-meaning. However, I also know from experience that for every ten sincere people there is at least one self-absorbed experience-seeker, or egomaniac with a martyr complex, or cynical opportunist.

Right now, there are hardcore Democratic party players like PR consultant Chad Griffin offering their services, and phone calls of support from actor Martin Sheen, as well as other lefty celebrities who are no doubt booking flights to Texas as I write this.  The usual tourists are there too, treating Sheehan’s protest as if it were some kind of cool happening, like Burning Man. It seems as if there are now as many agendas as there are people attaching themselves to Sheehan, and we are treated to the spectacle of players in a failed antiwar movement giving strategic advice to Sheehan and her supporters, who were doing just fine all by themselves.

What these people don’t seem to understand is that Sheehan has succeeded where they have failed precisely because she had no strategy and because it’s clear, even to the mainstream press, that she had no agenda beyond making sense of her son’s death and endeavoring to stop other mother’s sons from dying in the future. Sheehan’s protest could provide the spark for a genuinely effective grassroots antiwar movement, but my fear is that the Left will ‘strategize’ this into another defeat instead of learning from what Sheehan has accomplished.

Sheehan has stated that she will end her vigil around the time Bush ends his vacation at Crawford. What exactly will come from all this remains to be seen. If it only succeeds in embarrassing the president and emboldening average Americans to voice their dissenting opinions about the war, it will be small victory, but one victory more than the antiwar movement has been able to accomplish to date.

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