Pelosi has a Sheehan of Her Own

It was in the summer of 2005 that the Bush Administration began to lose the support of the American public for the war in Iraq. A principal catalyst of this momentous transformation was the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq. Casey Sheehan's mother Cindy Sheehan famously camped outside the President's ranch in Texas and demanded a meeting with him. (In fact, she demanded a second meeting, since they had met before.)

President Bush's refusal to meet with her again in such a public fashion was the opening that Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi had been waiting for -- a chance to make the President look disconnected from the soldiers he sent to war, and thereby turn public opinion against the war. The alliance worked well for the Democrats pushing it. Speaker Pelosi still poses with Sheehan on her government-provided website.

The Democratic leadership used the pained voices of parents like Mother Sheehan to bring the real cost of war into the American public's living rooms. In general, those voices should receive a substantial hearing in the public debate over Iraq out of respect for the sacrifices of their fallen soldiers. They are due this from us.

But in Sheehan's case, she quickly disabused the notion that she was genuine by meeting with Venezuelan tinhorn
Chavez  and wondering aloud in New Orleans if the soldiers who were there to perform rescue functions would shoot her, an obvious sign that there was some kind of mental health issue at play. As Sheehan became an embarrassment, the media discarded her as the face of war opposition and her access to leading Democrats dried up.

There remains, however, a sincere movement of antiwar, military-families (once represented by Sheehan) that should not be ignored, least of all by the Democratic leaders, who used them to bash the Bush Administration. But ignore them is exactly what the Democratic leadership has done. Hear Cindy Sheehan herself:

"Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic leadership can no longer tell us what is on the table," Mrs. Sheehan said. "We are the ones that put them in power and they are not including the peace movement. ... It needs to be at least included in the discussion."
Seeking access to Pelosi as Sheehan once did with Bush, Mother Tina Richards, whose Marine son survived two tours in Iraq, was recently arrested for camping outside the Speaker's door. According to Richards, she has tried to meet with the Speaker since last year, to no avail. It seems that the Speaker, who made political hay by playing up the Bush-Sheehan controversy, now has her own Sheehan to deal with.

No matter what we think of these parents and their unorthodox tactics, we should strive to keep the sacrifice of the soldiers they represent in mind. I doubt Casey Sheehan would have wanted public figures to criticize his mother, no matter how much she has marginalized herself. President Bush as well can be faulted for not meeting with her immediately back in 2005. He might have been right on principle since she essentially tried to blackmail a President - even her son's death gives her no right to do that - but he was wrong on understanding how the situation would play out to the public, making him look heartless.

But, even worse than the President's misstep with Sheehan is what Speaker Pelosi is doing now by ignoring these parents that she used to gain votes. Now that she is in office, she has discarded them. It is becoming quite obvious that Speaker Pelosi has done one of the most atrocious political triangulations in history. What can be worse than a politician aligning herself with some of the disaffected families of war wounded or killed, only to disregard them once the political objectives have been achieved, so as to appear moderate to the general public?

And how about the media's role in all this; will the media report Pelosi's own Sheehan-problem with the same ferocity that it reported the Camp Casey debacle in Crawford?

Ray Robison is co-author of the book Both in One Trench, a blogger, and a frequent contributor to American Thinker.
It was in the summer of 2005 that the Bush Administration began to lose the support of the American public for the war in Iraq. A principal catalyst of this momentous transformation was the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq. Casey Sheehan's mother Cindy Sheehan famously camped outside the President's ranch in Texas and demanded a meeting with him. (In fact, she demanded a second meeting, since they had met before.)

President Bush's refusal to meet with her again in such a public fashion was the opening that Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi had been waiting for -- a chance to make the President look disconnected from the soldiers he sent to war, and thereby turn public opinion against the war. The alliance worked well for the Democrats pushing it. Speaker Pelosi still poses with Sheehan on her government-provided website.

The Democratic leadership used the pained voices of parents like Mother Sheehan to bring the real cost of war into the American public's living rooms. In general, those voices should receive a substantial hearing in the public debate over Iraq out of respect for the sacrifices of their fallen soldiers. They are due this from us.

But in Sheehan's case, she quickly disabused the notion that she was genuine by meeting with Venezuelan tinhorn
Chavez  and wondering aloud in New Orleans if the soldiers who were there to perform rescue functions would shoot her, an obvious sign that there was some kind of mental health issue at play. As Sheehan became an embarrassment, the media discarded her as the face of war opposition and her access to leading Democrats dried up.

There remains, however, a sincere movement of antiwar, military-families (once represented by Sheehan) that should not be ignored, least of all by the Democratic leaders, who used them to bash the Bush Administration. But ignore them is exactly what the Democratic leadership has done. Hear Cindy Sheehan herself:

"Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic leadership can no longer tell us what is on the table," Mrs. Sheehan said. "We are the ones that put them in power and they are not including the peace movement. ... It needs to be at least included in the discussion."
Seeking access to Pelosi as Sheehan once did with Bush, Mother Tina Richards, whose Marine son survived two tours in Iraq, was recently arrested for camping outside the Speaker's door. According to Richards, she has tried to meet with the Speaker since last year, to no avail. It seems that the Speaker, who made political hay by playing up the Bush-Sheehan controversy, now has her own Sheehan to deal with.

No matter what we think of these parents and their unorthodox tactics, we should strive to keep the sacrifice of the soldiers they represent in mind. I doubt Casey Sheehan would have wanted public figures to criticize his mother, no matter how much she has marginalized herself. President Bush as well can be faulted for not meeting with her immediately back in 2005. He might have been right on principle since she essentially tried to blackmail a President - even her son's death gives her no right to do that - but he was wrong on understanding how the situation would play out to the public, making him look heartless.

But, even worse than the President's misstep with Sheehan is what Speaker Pelosi is doing now by ignoring these parents that she used to gain votes. Now that she is in office, she has discarded them. It is becoming quite obvious that Speaker Pelosi has done one of the most atrocious political triangulations in history. What can be worse than a politician aligning herself with some of the disaffected families of war wounded or killed, only to disregard them once the political objectives have been achieved, so as to appear moderate to the general public?

And how about the media's role in all this; will the media report Pelosi's own Sheehan-problem with the same ferocity that it reported the Camp Casey debacle in Crawford?

Ray Robison is co-author of the book Both in One Trench, a blogger, and a frequent contributor to American Thinker.