I recently wrote about how the media will sometimes ignore one story while obsessively focusing on another. In the case of Cindy Sheehan, the media is focusing heavily on her story. Her plight as a parent of someone who died in the War on Terror isn’t unique, but her anger and defiance of the President has made her a cherished icon of the Left.
President Bush visited Utah on Monday, August 22nd to meet with members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization. As with any visit by the President, the protestors came out. Since Utah is such a conservative state, it was odd to see the mayor of Salt Lake City, Rocky Anderson, actually issuing a call for people to come and protest. Mayor Anderson sent an e-mail to some like-minded people, outlining his wishes for the Presidential visit:
Don’t let him come to Utah and not see huge opposition, even in the reddest state. This would send such an important message. A tepid response will just send a message of apathy and resignation. Let the Bush administration — and the world — hear from Salt Lake City!!! The advocacy community should be organizing the biggest demonstration this state has ever seen!
To put Mayor Anderson’s words in perspective, Jerry Newberry, the communications director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said that he had no knowledge of any protests of a Presidential visit ever organized by officials in the VFW’s host city, let alone by the mayor of that city. But considering that Rocky Anderson is a Democrat, are you really that surprised?
Since the President was going to visit Utah, the Left decided to use its current cause celebre to rail against President Bush and his policies. A political commercial was created to run on Utah TV stations for a few days before the President’s visit. But KTVX, the local ABC affiliate, refused to run the commercial, citing it as an “inappropriate commercial advertisement for Salt Lake City.”
I first heard about all this last week on a Utah TV news broadcast, as the host explained how KTVX wasn’t going to run the commercial. The very next commercial break on that station included the Sheehan spot. Since this ad was targeted at Utah viewers, I’m not sure how many other people around the nation saw it. Here is the full text of the commercial, as spoken by Cindy Sheehan:
Mr. President, my name is Cindy Sheehan. On April 4, 2004, my son Casey was killed in Iraq. He was only 24, and he died in his best friend’s arms. Casey was so good and so honest. Why can’t you be honest with us? You were wrong about the weapons of mass destruction. You were wrong about the link between Iraq and al-Qaida. You lied to us, and because of your lies, my son died. You said he died for a noble cause. What cause? Mr. President, I want to tell you face to face how much this hurts. I love my country. But how many more of our loved ones need to die in this senseless war? How many more soldiers have to die before we say enough? I know you can’t bring Casey back. But it’s time to admit mistakes and bring our troops home now.
Now that you have read the text of the commercial, I’d like you to consider it piece by piece.
“Mr. President, my name is Cindy Sheehan.” While this ad is ostensibly addressed to the President, it is actually directed at the people who are watching the commercial. Addressing it to the President makes the ad sound more consequential than a statement that begins, “I’m Cindy Sheehan, so listen to what I say.”
“On April 4, 2004, my son Casey was killed in Iraq. He was only 24, and he died in his best friend’s arms.” The death of anyone’s child is a tragedy, as I have written before. I am truly saddened that Ms. Sheehan’s son died. But at the age of 24, he was an adult, and he freely volunteered for his military service. Once you volunteer for the military, you go where you are ordered to go. I learned this at an early age while growing up an Air Force brat.
“Casey was so good and so honest. Why can’t you be honest with us?” This begs the question: where exactly did the President lie?
“You were wrong about the weapons of mass destruction.” Oh, really? I have already written about the Iraqi WMDs. There is a problem with proving a negative. To prove that there are no WMDs in Iraq, we’d need to scour the entire Iraqi nation, turning over every rock, digging deep into the sand, opening every container in a country the size of California. At that point, we could say we had proven that Iraq did not currently have WMDs. But as I have pointed out, Saddam Hussein had WMDs and used them against the Kurds. Since he never fully accounted for those WMDs, it is pretty safe to assume that they still exist. Syria is a good possible location for them, as we have seen from a foiled bomb plot.
“You were wrong about the link between Iraq and al-Qaida.” How can anyone deny that there was a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda? I have covered this before, so I’ll only quote a bit of what I wrote then: “Does the name al-Zarqawi ring a bell? He’s one of the ghouls who chopped off Nick Berg’s head. Know where he is right now? If you say Iraq, go to the head of the class. So here we have al-Qaeda: trained in Iraq, supplied with weapons from Iraq, plotting attacks in Iraq, launching attacks now in Iraq and, thanks to the corruption of the U.N.’s “oil for food” program, funded by Iraq.” In the year since I wrote that, more evidence has surfaced that Iraq and al-Qaeda had close ties. The link between the two is quite clear. But it may be that Ms. Sheehan misspoke, and really meant a link between Iraq and 9/11. President Bush didn’t make that claim.
“You lied to us, and because of your lies, my son died.” Notice that she first claimed President Bush was “wrong” and later stated that he “lied.” There is an important difference between being incorrect and being a liar. And in any case, Casey didn’t die because President Bush lied. He died because his unit was attacked by terrorists in Baghdad. OK, so that may be splitting a fine hair, but this is an emotionally-charged accusation, and it isn’t accurate.
“You said he died for a noble cause. What cause?” Oh, I don’t know, how about the freedom of 26 million men, women, and children from the tyrannical whims of a brutal dictator? Or is freedom not a noble enough cause? How about making Iraq into a honey pot for terrorists who want to kill Americans, pulling them away from defenseless civilians in the U.S. and funneling them into Iraq where our trained men and women in uniform can kill or imprison them? Or is the military’s resolution to stand “between their loved homes and the war’s desolation” not a noble enough cause? If Ms. Sheehan does not think these causes are noble enough, well, that’s a difference of opinion — but to claim there is no cause at all is facetious at best.
“Mr. President, I want to tell you face to face how much this hurts.” Why didn’t Cindy Sheehan tell President Bush this the last time she met with him, two months after her son died? Contrary to what some liberals might think, the President’s title is not Mourner-in-Chief and it is not really his job to “feel your pain.” We had enough of that under the last President; while he was busy diddling interns, his inaction against terrorist threats helped lay the groundwork for the current war. Nonetheless, I believe President Bush does recognize the pain Ms. Sheehan feels. More than that, he realizes that to turn away from Iraq now would place the lives of millions of sons and daughters, both American and Iraqi, on the line. He has the discipline to see past the public wailing of one grieving mother and recognize the potential tragedy of millions of grieving mothers if we leave Iraq too soon.
“I love my country.” I’m willing to take her word for that.
“But how many more of our loved ones need to die in this senseless war? How many more soldiers have to die before we say enough?” There is only one thing more painful than the loss of our armed forces in battle, and that is to lose the battle as well. Coming up second best in a war is the costliest price any nation can pay, because it means that the men and women who fought and died did so for a lost cause.
“I know you can’t bring Casey back. But it’s time to admit mistakes and bring our troops home now.” Thus, we would lose the war in Iraq, and the death of brave soldiers like Casey would truly be for nothing. Many leftists have tried to compare the current war to the debacle in Vietnam, so perhaps it’s worth pointing out that our military didn’t lose in Vietnam. Thanks to the acts of useful idiots who sapped the will of the people and of the government, America lost the will to fight, and the military was undermined and pulled out from Vietnam. This was a great victory for the leftists, and it is telling that their victory came at the bloody loss of our military men and women. We didn’t lose in Vietnam militarily — we lost politically, because the people’s will was sapped by tools like Cindy Sheehan.
Ms. Sheehan: the world has watched as your private life crumbles around you. Your family has publicly discredited your actions and asked you to stop. Your husband has filed for divorce. You may have supporters in the leftist community of anti-war protestors, but every one of the people you ought to hold most dear refuses to stand with you. That should tell you something. You stand alone. And I cannot imagine that the spirit of your son, who was willing to fight and die for freedom, stands beside you now. I believe he would be ashamed.