Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Stupidity on Parade

I have pretty much ignored the whole Cindy Sheehan protest thing. I don’t really care whether President Bush meets with her, I don’t think the rightness or wrongness of the war rests on the fact of her personal loss (tragic as that is, obviously) and I couldn’t possibly care any less which celebrities visited today. I don’t doubt that the woman is sincere, nor do I doubt the sincerity of the many parents of fallen soldiers who have said that they disagree with her. But the sheer hypocrisy of some of her conservative critics has reached staggering proportions. Self-righteous gasbag Sean Hannity has been hammering her for weeks, impugning her sincerity and painting her as practically a communist sympathizer. But here’s what Hannity was saying in 1999 when Clinton was sending troops to Bosnia:

“Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their life?”

And can you imagine the uproar from the right if someone had run over a bunch of crosses commemorating the deaths of soldiers in opposition to a conservative cause? Good lord, they’d want him hung in the public square for treason. But they don’t seem to care much about the cretin who barrelled through those crosses in Texas. I guess it’s okay as long as you’re against the people they’re against.

And a little while ago, I was flipping channels and came across a Keith Olbermann interview with the parent of another soldier who died in Iraq. Gary Qualls has gone down to Crawford to set up “Camp Qualls”, a counter protest to Sheehan’s. Great. Both people are speaking their minds, exercising their right to free speech and standing up for what they believe. But holy cow, is this guy just plain dumb. He actually said in his interview that he thought Cindy Sheehan was wrong because she was spending all her time down there protesting and ignoring her other children and the rest of her family. Olbermann told him that all of her other children were adults and that she had actually left the protest to take care of her mother who just had a stroke and asked him if that was a fair thing to say. And he just stood there for a good 5 seconds with this perplexed look on his face, like he was trying to process this complex information. Folks, if you’re gonna take a bold public position, don’t send out the moron in the bunch to be your spokesman.

I know virtually nothing about Cindy Sheehan. I sympathize with her loss, but it has no bearing at all on what I think about the war and I view this whole thing as mostly a big pointless circus. But the attacks on her are really over the top. And I can’t imagine she could possibly be as loathsome as people like Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, who are attacking her in the most disgusting and hypocritical manner.


  1. #1 Some Guy
    August 22, 2005

    Here, here.

    I respect here because what started out as her own small vigil on behalf of her son and herself has quickly outgrown her control. And yet she has stayed focused despite the hurrican of hatred and lies sent her way.

    I agree that her personal loss is not what this is about, and actually yesterday at HuffPost she put up a short rejoinder to all this hate saying it is about the war, not her. So she I think she is aware that the objection to Bush is not about her pain, except to the extent that her situation indicates the feelings of many others.

    However, it is becoming somewhat Schiavo-like with hysteria being whipped hourly.

    Don’t O’Reilly and Hannity realize that if they just ignored her that would do more damage to her protest. They give her more attention than any of the reputable daily papers or regular evening news broadcasts. Their hatred garners her attention. As does counter-protests evidently led by Jethro fresh from the cement pond.

  2. #2 Some Guy
    August 22, 2005

    Wow I am a lousy typist.

  3. #3 David
    August 22, 2005

    I think you can disagree on whether the war in Iraq was a good or a bad thing. I think what is much more interesting is the policiatasl aspect due in part to the apparent disconnection with at least a portion of the electorate of the Bush2 White House. W’s interactions are so controlled by the people around him and his public events so scripted that it has been interesting to see how he has handled the entire Sheehan protest. I don’t know (or really care) what her motives are – politically it seems to me that if Bush had just called her in and sat down privately to talk with her he could have difused the situation. Unfortunately, that would have been completely out of character.

  4. #4 jcw
    August 22, 2005

    She has brought this upon herself. Read some interviews she has granted, speeches she has made and the circumstances surrounding her son’s death. Her sincerity is definitely in question.

  5. #5 Patterico
    August 23, 2005

    He actually said in his interview that he thought Cindy Sheehan was wrong because she was spending all her time down there protesting and ignoring her other children and the rest of her family. Olbermann told him that all of her other children were adults and that she had actually left the protest to take care of her mother who just had a stroke and asked him if that was a fair thing to say. And he just stood there for a good 5 seconds with this perplexed look on his face, like he was trying to process this complex information. Folks, if you’re gonna take a bold public position, don’t send out the moron in the bunch to be your spokesman.

    1) From the New York Daily News:

    “My kids and I feel like we’ve had two losses: Casey and now our wife and mother,” Cindy’s estranged husband, Patrick Sheehan, tells People magazine. “The kids are angry and lonely for her.” His wife has been camped outside Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Tex., since Aug. 6, hoping to talk to the President about the death of her soldier son, Casey, in Iraq.

    Son Andrew, 21, adds: “I think she should come home.”

    Adult children can miss their mothers too. I don’t know that the guy is a “moron” for saying what he said.

    2) Apparently he was hearing the news about Sheehan’s mom’s stroke for the first time, as he was being interviewed live on TV. I might have been speechless myself. Maybe he’s not the most informed guy, but a “moron”?

  6. #6 raj
    August 23, 2005

    Son Andrew, 21, adds: “I think she should come home.”

    This is silly. Adult children can largely fend for themselves.

  7. #7 Oolong
    August 23, 2005

    I think there’s a difference between what I would take as the implied point in the original article — that Sheehan was being negligent as a parent (ignoring her children) — and saying that her 21 year old misses her. If they had said that the wind would have been knocked out of their point, no?

  8. #8 ~DS~
    August 23, 2005

    You really do have to admire the chutzpah of the wingers. Like when Ken Mehlman sat up on Meet the Press and explained that the new info on Rove giving out Plame’s ID ‘vindicated him’ and ‘proved beyond doubt he was not involved’. I mean even Russert was having a hard time with that one.
    Off the cuff and by the by, Cindy Sheehan is someone I know personally and she’s been in this deal long before she was [in]famous, or known, or even mentioned anywhere. She is one pissed off lady and has been focused on this since 4/4/04, the day she got the news Casey was killed. He was shot in the head while sitting in the back of an LMTV like a clay pigeon, that’s a trailor hitched to a truck with a tarp over it. The shooters were a Shia militia, one which now incidentally is our ally in good standing with the CPA and the US.

  9. #9 ~DS~
    August 23, 2005

    Oh and by the way Ed, I must point out that you were right about this fucked war all along, even before it began, and I was dead wrong. What I don’t get is why it’s so hard for others who intially bought into it like myself to admit that also.

  10. #10 Joshua White
    August 23, 2005

    I’m not sure how I feel about the Cindy Sheehan situation yet. I respect her opinion and feel for her because of her loss.

    But she is not just a grieving mother who wants to talk to the president. She has become a political bazooka that the left is aiming at the president and it is crazy to ignore that as many people have. In some ways the president would be crazy to meet with her because of the way that meeting would be used both fair and unfair. That coupled with the way those who oppose the president never mention that she has already met the president make me annoyed with many on her side of the issue.

    On the other hand she has become a rallying point for many who want the war to stop. As such she represents more than just herself, she represents a large number of Americans. It would be nice if Bush were to meet with such a focus of criticism of how he is handling things and give us some real explanations and justifications for the situation. This way he can lay everything out and America can decide how it feels about the situation. Of course the chances of that happening are about the same as me getting my PhD after my first rotation.

    I realize that the preceding paragraphs may be a bit contradictory. Like I said I’m still not sure how I should feel about it.

    I also have to agree with DS. I have come to see that I should not have supported the war in Iraq. Not because the war itself was the problem. It is that the leadership is incompetent. First it was the failure to plan for the post-invasion chaos. Second it was the insufficient troop levels to fight the insurgency. The straw that broke the camels back is that we may allow Iraq to implement a constitution that would destroy everything that we supposedly went in to create. We gave the Japanese their constitution and stuck around to make sure the region became stable. We can do something similar in Iraq if the administration would actually provide the support for such a thing.

  11. #11 Ed Brayton
    August 23, 2005


    You had to see the interview. The guy was just a total slack-jawed (literally) moron. As far as the family thing, he was trying to make her sound like she was neglecting young children and that was crap. And that kind of personal attack has no place. If he thinks she’s wrong on the war, fine. Speak your mind boldly. But to delve into personal family issues is reprehensible, as have a lot of the attacks. I’m not defending Sheehan, about whom I know nothing. For all I know, she may be as dumb as Qualls is and she may be a vile person. But given that she has cretins like Hannity and O’Reilly attacking her with verbal meat cleavers, I can’t imagine she could be worse than them.

  12. #12 Ed Brayton
    August 23, 2005


    I’m not sure anyone should say I was right about the war from the start because I’ve never really had a clear position on the war. That’s the result of genuine confusion on my part. I do think there were legitimate strategic reasons for the war, regardless of the dishonest marketing campaign (which I tend to disregard because all wars are accompanied by dishonest marketing campaigns). I also think the administration did an abysmal job of executing it. And despite that, I thought we still had a chance to accomplish something there, but if we end up with an Islamic state in Iraq, as it now appears we will, it will all be for nothing.

  13. #13 Matthew
    August 23, 2005

    Punditry isn’t about logical consistency, it’s about speaking your views in a loud voice and being so confident that it is unnecessary to stop and think about something before speaking. Classic divide and conquer.

  14. #14 Some Guy
    August 23, 2005

    DS, I am glad you mentioned your conversion. I too have wondered greatly about the difficulty in people saying, “I was wrong.” Lots of people have gotten off the train at various stops, from the initial chaos, to no WMD, to the resurgent insurgency, and on and on until now a constution which likely won’t get approved but is antithetical to Bush’s lofty themes. I suppose the emotional weight of saying one was wrong about something so serious is very hard.

    For my part, I was always against Iraq because I never believed the WMD hype or the Al Qaeda claims. It smelled way to fishy to me.

    Regardless of where people started, though, to admit one’s “war conversion” (whether initially against then for, or vice versa) has been a taboo.

  15. #15 raj
    August 23, 2005

    Oolong at August 23, 2005 08:27 AM

    I guess you miss the point. The 21 year old adult might miss her, but he isn’t dependent on her. He is an adult. He has been nurtured by her into adulthood. At this point he doesn’t own her, and his opinion as to where she should be at any point in time is of no concern to him.

    If he wants to be near her, he should go to where she wants to be.

    Also, I’ll merely point out that there are cell phones via which he can contact her of he has a panic moment.

  16. #16 Oolong
    August 23, 2005


    I probably wasn’t being clear in my posts. I agree with you. I think it is silly to imply that Sheehan is neglecting a 21 yr old child by staging such a protest. I also was trying to point out that if the aforementioned gasbags said “and she’s neglecting her 21 year old kids” by being in Crawford, they would sound like idiots. As a matter of fact, one would think a 21 year old might actually learn quite a bit about integrity from such a parental display, whether they happened to agree with the parent or not.

  17. #17 raj
    August 23, 2005

    Oolong at August 23, 2005 03:49 PM

    Sorry, I’m a lawyer. I was cross-examining you.

    And, despite the fact that I am 56 years old, I am still the child of my elderly parents.

    The 21 year old son should stop whining. If he wants to be with his mother, he should go where she wants to be.

  18. #18 spyder
    August 23, 2005

    Being on the road while most of this was going on, my own sense of propriety begged the question: “What happened to the investigation of Rove??” I find out that the reich wing has been able to divert most of that attention towards a really silly issue of castigating an emotionally charged citizen using her Constitutional rights to express her disgust with her government’s actions. So what is happening with Rove, or does that not really matter either?

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