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The Swift Boating of Cindy Sheehan

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by No Worries, Aug 21, 2005.

  1. No Worries

    No Worries Contributing Member

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    The Swift Boating of Cindy Sheehan
    Op-Ed Columnist
    By FRANK RICH
    Published: August 21, 2005

    CINDY SHEEHAN couldn't have picked a more apt date to begin the vigil that ambushed a president: Aug. 6 was the fourth anniversary of that fateful 2001 Crawford vacation day when George W. Bush responded to an intelligence briefing titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States" by going fishing. On this Aug. 6 the president was no less determined to shrug off bad news. Though 14 marine reservists had been killed days earlier by a roadside bomb in Haditha, his national radio address that morning made no mention of Iraq. Once again Mr. Bush was in his bubble, ensuring that he wouldn't see Ms. Sheehan coming. So it goes with a president who hasn't foreseen any of the setbacks in the war he fabricated against an enemy who did not attack inside the United States in 2001.

    When these setbacks happen in Iraq itself, the administration punts. But when they happen at home, there's a game plan. Once Ms. Sheehan could no longer be ignored, the Swift Boating began. Character assassination is the Karl Rove tactic of choice, eagerly mimicked by his media surrogates, whenever the White House is confronted by a critic who challenges it on matters of war. The Swift Boating is especially vicious if the critic has more battle scars than a president who connived to serve stateside and a vice president who had "other priorities" during Vietnam.

    The most prominent smear victims have been Bush political opponents with heroic Vietnam résumés: John McCain, Max Cleland, John Kerry. But the list of past targets stretches from the former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke to Specialist Thomas Wilson, the grunt who publicly challenged Donald Rumsfeld about inadequately armored vehicles last December. The assault on the whistle-blower Joseph Wilson - the diplomat described by the first President Bush as "courageous" and "a true American hero" for confronting Saddam to save American hostages in 1991 - was so toxic it may yet send its perpetrators to jail.

    True to form, the attack on Cindy Sheehan surfaced early on Fox News, where she was immediately labeled a "crackpot" by Fred Barnes. The right-wing blogosphere quickly spread tales of her divorce, her angry Republican in-laws, her supposed political flip-flops, her incendiary sloganeering and her association with known ticket-stub-carrying attendees of "Fahrenheit 9/11." Rush Limbaugh went so far as to declare that Ms. Sheehan's "story is nothing more than forged documents - there's nothing about it that's real."

    But this time the Swift Boating failed, utterly, and that failure is yet another revealing historical marker in this summer's collapse of political support for the Iraq war.

    When the Bush mob attacks critics like Ms. Sheehan, its highest priority is to change the subject. If we talk about Richard Clarke's character, then we stop talking about the administration's pre-9/11 inattentiveness to terrorism. If Thomas Wilson is trashed as an insubordinate plant of the "liberal media," we forget the Pentagon's abysmal failure to give our troops adequate armor (a failure that persists today, eight months after he spoke up). If we focus on Joseph Wilson's wife, we lose the big picture of how the administration twisted intelligence to gin up the threat of Saddam's nonexistent W.M.D.'s.

    The hope this time was that we'd change the subject to Cindy Sheehan's "wacko" rhetoric and the opportunistic left-wing groups that have attached themselves to her like barnacles. That way we would forget about her dead son. But if much of the 24/7 media has taken the bait, much of the public has not.

    The backdrops against which Ms. Sheehan stands - both that of Mr. Bush's what-me-worry vacation and that of Iraq itself - are perfectly synergistic with her message of unequal sacrifice and fruitless carnage. Her point would endure even if the messenger were shot by a gun-waving Crawford hothead or she never returned to Texas from her ailing mother's bedside or the president folded the media circus by actually meeting with her.

    The public knows that what matters this time is Casey Sheehan's story, not the mother who symbolizes it. Cindy Sheehan's bashers, you'll notice, almost never tell her son's story. They are afraid to go there because this young man's life and death encapsulate not just the noble intentions of those who went to fight this war but also the hubris, incompetence and recklessness of those who gave the marching orders.

    Specialist Sheehan was both literally and figuratively an Eagle Scout: a church group leader and honor student whose desire to serve his country drove him to enlist before 9/11, in 2000. He died with six other soldiers on a rescue mission in Sadr City on April 4, 2004, at the age of 24, the week after four American security workers had been mutilated in Falluja and two weeks after he arrived in Iraq. This was almost a year after the president had declared the end of "major combat operations" from the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln.

    According to the account of the battle by John F. Burns in The Times, the insurgents who slaughtered Specialist Sheehan and his cohort were militiamen loyal to Moktada al-Sadr, the anti-American Shiite cleric. The Americans probably didn't stand a chance. As Mr. Burns reported, members of "the new Iraqi-trained police and civil defense force" abandoned their posts at checkpoints and police stations "almost as soon as the militiamen appeared with their weapons, leaving the militiamen in unchallenged control."

    Yet in the month before Casey Sheehan's death, Mr. Rumsfeld typically went out of his way to inflate the size and prowess of these Iraqi security forces, claiming in successive interviews that there were "over 200,000 Iraqis that have been trained and equipped" and that they were "out on the front line taking the brunt of the violence." We'll have to wait for historians to tell us whether this and all the other Rumsfeld propaganda came about because he was lied to by subordinates or lying to himself or lying to us or some combination thereof.

    As The Times reported last month, even now, more than a year later, a declassified Pentagon assessment puts the total count of Iraqi troops and police officers at 171,500, with only "a small number" able to fight insurgents without American assistance. As for Moktada al-Sadr, he remains as much a player as ever in the new "democratic" Iraq. He controls one of the larger blocs in the National Assembly. His loyalists may have been responsible for last month's apparently vengeful murder of Steven Vincent, the American freelance journalist who wrote in The Times that Mr. Sadr's followers had infiltrated Basra's politics and police force.

    Casey Sheehan's death in Iraq could not be more representative of the war's mismanagement and failure, but it is hardly singular. Another mother who has journeyed to Crawford, Celeste Zappala, wrote last Sunday in New York's Daily News of how her son, Sgt. Sherwood Baker, was also killed in April 2004 - in Baghdad, where he was providing security for the Iraq Survey Group, which was charged with looking for W.M.D.'s "well beyond the admission by David Kay that they didn't exist."

    As Ms. Zappala noted with rage, her son's death came only a few weeks after Mr. Bush regaled the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association banquet in Washington with a scripted comedy routine featuring photos of him pretending to look for W.M.D.'s in the Oval Office. "We'd like to know if he still finds humor in the fabrications that justified the war that killed my son," Ms. Zappala wrote. (Perhaps so: surely it was a joke that one of the emissaries Mr. Bush sent to Cindy Sheehan in Crawford was Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser who took responsibility for allowing the 16 errant words about doomsday uranium into the president's prewar State of the Union speech.)

    Mr. Bush's stand-up shtick for the Beltway press corps wasn't some aberration; it was part of the White House's political plan for keeping the home front cool. America was to yuk it up, party on and spend its tax cuts heedlessly while the sacrifice of an inadequately manned all-volunteer army in Iraq was kept out of most Americans' sight and minds. This is why the Pentagon issued a directive at the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom forbidding news coverage of "deceased military personnel returning to or departing from" air bases. It's why Mr. Bush, unlike Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, has not attended funeral services for the military dead. It's why January's presidential inauguration, though nominally dedicated to the troops, was a gilded $40 million jamboree at which the word Iraq was banished from the Inaugural Address.

    THIS summer in Crawford, the White House went to this playbook once too often. When Mr. Bush's motorcade left a grieving mother in the dust to speed on to a fund-raiser, that was one fat-cat party too far. The strategy of fighting a war without shared national sacrifice has at last backfired, just as the strategy of Swift Boating the war's critics has reached its Waterloo before Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury in Washington. The 24/7 cable and Web attack dogs can keep on sliming Cindy Sheehan. The president can keep trying to ration the photos of flag-draped caskets. But this White House no longer has any more control over the insurgency at home than it does over the one in Iraq.
     
  2. basso

    basso Contributing Member
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    can we just have a sticky at the top of the forum where you guys can post the outrage du jour from krugman, rich, dowd et al? really, this is the same as if conservatives were constantly posting diatribes by Hannity, O'Reilly, and Limbaugh, and no matter what else you may say about us, i don't think we've yet stooped to that level.
     
  3. Jeffster

    Jeffster Contributing Member

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    Yeah, really. What is the point in just pasting other people's opinions in here?

    By the way, that screed loses all its credibility when he says John Kerry is in the same league with John McCain and Max Cleland with a "heroic Vietnam resume."
     
  4. FranchiseBlade

    FranchiseBlade Contributing Member
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    That reminds of the funny comic strip by Tom Tomorrow where the conservatives are claiming their right wing news folks are the same as Al Franken. I wish I could remember what thread that was posted in. I would repost it here.

    The two aren't the same at all. One uses facts and the others use facts and stuff that is blatantly false. The only thing similar is that they both have a political agenda.
     
  5. FranchiseBlade

    FranchiseBlade Contributing Member
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    ARe you familiar with Kerry's Viet Nam resumee? He turned his boat around in a firefight to rescue somebody and saved their life. He also risked his life and jumped out of his boat and chased down an enemy who had fired rocket propelled grenades at him.

    His commander's at the time, people he served with(including some of the swift boat veterans) praised his heroism and performance.

    Later on some of the people CHANGED THEIR STORY. Those people are called Swift Boat Veterans. Of course after Kerry released all of his records they show how many swift boat veterans were praising Kerry's deeds at the time.

    That is a heroic resumee.
     
  6. basso

    basso Contributing Member
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    i'm disputing kerry served w/ honor, although i'm not sure it rises to the level of heroism, but nevertheless, he deserves credit for going to 'nam, and GWB has said as much.

    that said, kerry promised both during the campaign, and subsequently, to release all his military records to the public. although he's release large portion to a few newspapers, to date, he's not lived up to his pledge. one wonders why?
     
  7. bigtexxx

    bigtexxx Contributing Member

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    Exactly. For a while I had a very popular award called the "Liberal Outrage Post of the Day". I've gotten away from awarding it, but it seems that the liberals are gaining confidence and courage as of late. It may be time to bring the award back.
     
  8. Batman Jones

    Batman Jones Contributing Member

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    A "very popular" award?? Man, what color is the sky over there? There are like two posters here who take you seriously at all and one of them is your brother. I'd venture a guess the vast majority of righties and pro-war types don't even take you seriously and yet you adminster a very popular award. Were you, by any chance, on the two person panel that called the "unanimous" victory for your bro in the andymoon debate that never was?
     
  9. basso

    basso Contributing Member
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    actually, i cribbed the phrase "outrage du jour" from texxx...
     
  10. thegary

    thegary Contributing Member

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    Baby, let's play God
    You do everything I say
    And if you're real nice to me
    I might let you be the pope someday

    GOD, GOD, GOD
    BABY, LET'S PLAY GOD

    What's this with this complex in you?
    When you say jump, we're all supposed to move
    I've turned the tables now and I've got the gun
    And God is pissed so you better run!

    GOD, GOD, GOD
    BABY, LET'S PLAY GOD

    Baby, let's play God,
    And I'll be God so who are you?
    It's not important what you want anyway
    When you're God you get the final say

    GOD, GOD, GOD
    BABY, LET'S PLAY GOD
     
  11. Batman Jones

    Batman Jones Contributing Member

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    No surprise there. You were one of the two.
     
  12. basso

    basso Contributing Member
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    I'm flying in Winchester cathedral
    Sunlight pouring through the break of day.
    Stumbled through the door and into the chamber;
    There's a lady setting flowers on a table covered lace
    And a cleaner in the distance finds a cobweb on a face
    And a feeling deep inside of me tells me
    This can't be the place

    I'm flying in Winchester cathedral.
    All religion has to have its day
    Expressions on the face of the Saviour
    Made me say
    I can't stay.

    Open up the gates of the church and let me out of here!
    Too many people have lied in the name of Christ
    For anyone to heed the call.
    So many people have died in the name of Christ
    That I can't believe it all.
     
  13. basso

    basso Contributing Member
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    you sure i don't have a brother too?
     
  14. StupidMoniker

    StupidMoniker I lost a bet

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    I take Texxx at least as seriously as I take glynch.
     
  15. Batman Jones

    Batman Jones Contributing Member

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    I can understand you taking posters with more extreme ideologies equally seriously. How do you feel about them apart from ideology? Are you a fan of demanding evidence, links, proof and then disappearing when they're provided? Are you a fan of demanding answers to questions only to disappear when asked to do the same? Only one of those two posters does those things. I think you know which is which.
     
  16. bigtexxx

    bigtexxx Contributing Member

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    obsession noted, brah
     
  17. MartianMan

    MartianMan Contributing Member

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    Come on now. Bigtexxx is obviously a bot. He can't answer complex questions. His posts are a simple combination of liberal outrage, questions that asks for ridiculous amounts of information, and a short condescending note at the end.

    I suspect Karl Rove has planted his bots in bbs's all over the internet. He is far smarter than I suspected.
     
  18. Deckard

    Deckard Blade Runner
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    So the deliberate vilification of a grieving mother, who strongly feels that her son died for an act of stupidity and deception by her President, deserves an orchestrated attack by tools of the Administration who, if you just see a series of their recent "pronouncements," one right after the other, are amazingly all saying the same damned thing? I watch a variety of news sources (besides those I read), and this is what's being done to Cindy Sheehan. Just to be clear, I don't give a damn about that idiot, Kerry. He should never had made Vietnam a centerpiece of his campaign, which I thought a terrible mistake at the time. I also don't give a damn about the "Swift Boat" vets who were used by the Administration, with practically an open invitation from Kerry. Their "sound and fury," for the most part, came across as forced as Kerry's preening about his war service. Bush and Kerry are both fools... Kerry would be better in the White House than Bush, but only as the lesser of two evils.

    You really believe that doing this to Sheehan is OK? I used to think you were better than that, basso.



    Keep D&D Civil!!
     
  19. Batman Jones

    Batman Jones Contributing Member

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    Damn! You bested me again! Without responding to a single charge, either regarding issues or your cowardly posting style! How do you keep doing that?!
     
  20. Batman Jones

    Batman Jones Contributing Member

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    I feel you, man. A long time ago I thought that too, but we were wrong. He totally isn't.
     

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