August 14, 2005

"Tented up in a ditch."

Drudge is getting awfully mean about Cindy Sheehan. There's a real danger to centering your political argument on one individual. You get the oomph of the personal, but you have a person, who might any minute say something stupid for your opponents to exclaim over. If I was camping out in the Texas sun – "tented up in a ditch" – with cameras in my face for weeks, I can't imagine what the dumbest thing I'd say would be, and I'm sure I'd completely lose touch with how it would look in the press. The real debate ought to be about the war, not about Cindy Sheehan. But it is human nature to divert our attention from a big, complex picture when we have the chance to think and talk about a particular individual. And so we have this endless focus on Ms. Sheehan.

34 comments:

Menlo Bob said...

Drudge can be criticized for playing the emotional game, but he is hardly alone. For many, the problem with the Cindy Sheehan story is the way in which media accounts substitute a rational discussion with an emotional one. Would these same promoters of Sheehan argue that police departments should be shut down following the killing of an officer at the hands of a criminal? That seems to be her rationale for determining national policy.

Dirty Harry said...

Like the NARAL ad Ms. Sheehan is backfiring. The anti-war/anti-Bush/anti-American left and their allies in the media thought they found their Rosa Parks.

Not even close.

Art said...

The candidate you voted for wouldn't have been elected without Matt Drudge's assistance. He is the head end for the transmission of talking points to "hot-talk" radio, Fox News, and eventually to the other networks who feel they must ape Fox's behavior to appear "objective."

Politicians have learned that you win not by making convincing arguments but by destroying the human beings making the arguments. Find a physical characteristic, ill chosen word, or slip of the tongue, isolate it, blow it up a thousand times, and repeat it over and over and over again.

The only things worth talking about regarding Iraq this morning are the deaths of six more American service persons, the story about Sunni Iraqis fighting to help save fellow Iraqi Shiites from Sunni insurgents (who weren't a factor prior to the invasion) and the comments of an anonymous Pentagon official who says in his own, convoluted language, "God, Did we ever screw up."

But Drudge's headline beats up on Cindy Sheehan for daring to suggest that Israel's occupation of Palistinian territory is a factor in the middle east's problems.

Beth said...

Actually, the woman has now come out in favor of destroying Israel - I don't think it's 'mean' to point that out.

I had compassion for her until she made that statement. I don't like anti-semitism. She has gone too far.

Ann Althouse said...

Beth: I don't like seeing her becoming a big punching bag whenever she says something dumb, but she did ask for it.

Art: What's your logic here? If you vote for someone, you're adopting everything anyone who supported that person ever says? That's absurd! But I think Drudge is justified hitting Sheehan for stating an extreme and reckless opinion about Israel and for the tax thing too. She's made herself a public figure and her sad inadequacy as a general spokeperson is giving those who oppose her on the war many rich opportunites to cut her down to size. I don't blame Drudge for having fun with it. Look at the excesses of the people who pumped her up for their political purposes.

Art said...

I apologize for the personal attack on you (Ann). Obviously, that's the sort of thing I was objecting to and I am guilty of it myself.

My point was that our system of political discourse is broken. People are abusing the problems with the system to gain election. And I think the public is losing faith in the leadership elected by way of that system.

And the way the system seems to work , anyone who tries to not take advantage of it loses.

So why try to improve things?

Art said...

I apologize for the personal attack on you (Ann). Obviously, that's the sort of thing I was objecting to and I am guilty of it myself.

My point was that our system of political discourse is broken. People are abusing the problems with the system to gain election. And I think the public is losing faith in the leadership elected by way of that system.

And the way the system seems to work , anyone who tries to not take advantage of it loses.

So why try to improve things?

leeontheroad said...

Both Bob and Hasrry's comments continue the argument against Sheehan, rather than adress Ann's contention "the real debate should be about the war." And I think that's a small sampling of part of the difficulty of having said debate.

I'd argue the crux of the debate could begin with these facts:

* fewer then 40% of Americans, according to Pew, "approve" of the Pres.' handling of the War in Iraq, a steady decline from a year ago. And the Newsweek poll records similar sentiment.

YET

* Only "12% of Americans think troops should be brought home now" (from same Newsweek link above).

From this, we can surmise: 1) it's not just the anti-war left that thinks there's a problem. (also, here's P.J. O'Rourke writing about the Administration's "competence"); and 2) folks would like a better plan that what seems to be in place.

Is the Republic strong enough to have its own debate about strategy, not just goals? The anti-war left has a goal: stop the war now, and so far, that's not a common proposition. The pro-war right has a goal: fight the war until we win it. The former hasn't addressed how its goal can be met in terms of international responsibility; the latter hasn't convinced a majority how its goal will be met at all, at this point.

CraigC said...

I agree that the focus should be on policy, but Sheehan has made herself a public figure. She's a despicable human being, and I for one don't think we can be hard enough on her.

DanC said...

I have given up TV, mostly to protect my kids. The entire debate about this woman is completely meaningless to me. I have now gotten to the point that I get all my news online. It is much harder for the MSM and others to spin stories. I suggest we all just turn off the TV, and suddenly life does get better.

EddieP said...

I can't wait until the MSM refocuses on the real issues of our time: Did Karl Rove out Valerie? Does Tom really love Katie? Has John Bolton destroyed all of our relationships at the UN? Is there more dirt to be dug up on Judge Robert's children? What Iraqi Constitution?

AJ Lynch said...

Re Drudge:
Looked at the link and did not see anything underhanded..did he quote Sheehan accurately?? What did he do wrong? imho, from the actua tapes and interviews I have heard of Mrs. Sheehan, she sounds like a very dim bulb and is apparently easily led as she just spews the left talking points.
I always say give me the unvarnished facts - don't withold any facts (and MSM is doing that in the Sheehan case) and I will make up my own mind and opinion re what is treu and correct. And that is my right.

The new tactic of the MSM seems to be "the polls say...." as if we should be governed by polls.

Simon Kenton said...

Grief's private and personal; look at the pained and truthful process in Lewis's "A Grief Observed." When you go public and park yourself along the road, you're out of grief and can no longer expect us to offer the respect we tender to sorrow. We don't believe it any more. You're asking to be judged by different standards: effective or ineffective activist?

Ms Althouse wrote, "... I don't like seeing her becoming a big punching bag whenever she says something dumb, but she did ask for it." I do, and it's because she's trying for both - take my message, but if you don't, go easy because I'm greiving. How does this differ, essentially, from the egregious Courtney Love's attempts to claim credit for being clean and sober, while being stoned and vituperative? What's causing the irritation here is not that Michael Moore is scavenging her, but that she's self-exploitive.

Elizabeth said...

I read the Drudge story but don't see where she calls for the destruction of Israel--where/when did that happen?

Richard said...

Sheehan should not get a pass because she is grieving. Lots of people grieve without turning over their soul to political action committees. Instead we should ask what credentials she claims gives her special insight to her issues. A dead son is not a special credential. Again, lots of folks have dead relatives. I see nothing in Ms. Sheehan’s life experience or education or intelligence that makes her opinion any more worth of my consideration than the guy who packed my groceries this morning at the Piggily Wiggily.

sockpuppet230 said...

to some people, any opposition to the current israel border is anti-semitic, and probably hates God too, since they are his "chosen"

read mediamatters.org, to see some of the crap oreilly and malkin have done to cindy sheehan.

When she is protesting the income tax with the "861" argument, you'll know shes gone off the deep end, but this all seems pretty level-headed for now, keeping in mind she is a lone actor, presumably without savvy handlers leading her around.

miklos rosza said...

her handlers wish her only to be referred to as "mother sheehan" from now on.

cheapsunglasses said...

has cindy read the "shut up cindy" letter from her family???

mensabarbie said...

Sad to see how she has become prey to (both) anti-war sponsors, and now those who inadvertently exploit her frailties. Coming to plate (heavily laden with grief) and without a pragmatic plan of how to take her request to another level, beyond self.

What remains center to her argument is the deep contrast of America's profound emotional indebtedness to its Mothers of the fallen, with that of our enemy in ME, where Mothers must pre-accept their sons in trade for cash, for attacks against our Country..

Humility is not a weakness, so it is sad to see what she is not capable of contributing at this time, being drained out of her.

Pat Patterson said...

Roman mothers told their sons to come either carrying their shields or on them. Casey Sheehan came home on his shield but is not allowed to rest in peace. Mrs. Sheehan will also not receive any peace but instead will become even more crazed and bitter than she is now.

RG said...

Roman mothers told their sons to come either carrying their shields or on them.

Small nitpick, but that would be Greek mothers - as in the mothers of Spartan warriors.

As for Cindy Sheehan: I've been reading about the media storm surrounding her, and I can't wait till the Roberts hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee begin so she can fade to page 10.

Sloanasaurus said...

Mrs. Sheehan deserves to be scrutinized personally, because she is using her personal life as political capital to further her anti-war position. She publicly called the president a liar (a conclusion that the president and the evidence disputes). As such it is fair to call Mrs. Sheehan a Jew hater for her statements over Israel... after all her statements about Israel are consistent with other known Jew haters.

You can't have your cake and eat it too.

John in Nashville said...

"The real debate ought to be about the war . . . But it is human nature to divert our attention from a big, complex picture when we have the chance to think and talk about a particular individual."

Is that akin to what appears to motivate the current President Bush's focus on Saddam Hussein, to-wit: "He tried to kill my dad"? A president with the diplomatic instincts of Santino Coreleone should hardly complain about Cindy Sheehan.

Pat Patterson said...

A quick scan of Livy and Herodotus turned up many examples of similar behavior of Spartan and Roman mothers, false memory had it as Roman. The primary source would have been Plutarch, a Greek writing for Romans , finding examples to convince a skeptical audience that the Greeks had the same martial spirit as the Romans. The point I was trying to make is that Mrs. Sheehan has not and probably never will recognize the sacrafices her adult son made for her and our country.

Ann Althouse said...

John in Nashville: Didn't you just do the same thing? You went to the personal in the way you focused on Bush – you even saw him as a character in a drama.

Sloanasaurus: I don't think it's fair to infer hatred of Jews from opposition to Israeli policy.

Pat: I think she can understand that, but that she is so adamantly opposed to the war that she's enraged that he died for that cause. It's not a good enough cause to die for to her. If her son were alive, she'd probably have arguments with him about it, but now that he's dead, he can't argue back and can be used to further her anti-war cause.

Goesh said...

John in Nashville - that's the best one I've ever heard! .... "the diplomatic inistincts of Santino Corleone"... HA HA I love it! You get some real talented folks here, Ms. Ann.

Ulysses said...

Ulyesses

Cindy Sheehan is walking the walk and talking the talk. Hence, she has become a national figure. So if there are people who disagree with her, then she has no right to complain.

Many mothers and fathers lost sons and daughters in Iraq, but it was those sons and daughters who pledged to defend this country.

Note that the Middle East is a hotbed of anti American sentiment that capitalizes on these public demonstrations against the war and might ultimately result in the death of more Americans.

Grieving is fine and necessary; God help her; she has lost a son, but grieving is a private matter for family and friends. It should not be used for propaganda, ever.

The enemy is aware that free speech is a weapon that can and will be used against us. Ms. Sheehan must keep this in mind.

This tax thing has nothing to do with grief, nor do the public gatherings of other anti Bush groups who are using her to further their causes. The enemy sees these things as a weaknesses in our system, and that heartens them to fight on. They know that if they win in Iraq, they will be free to execute more 9/11’s and 9/7’s. Do not delude yourself; this is what they are after. Ms. Sheehan must also keep this in mind.

Sloanasaurus said...

"...I don't think it's fair to infer hatred of Jews from opposition to Israeli policy....

Althouse: I agree. However, I don't see it as being any less fair than Mrs. Sheehan infering that Bush is a liar because no WMD was found in a Iraq.

Thus, a fair response to Mrs. Sheenhan's personal attacks on Bush (for being a liar) is to point out that she may be a Jew hater.

ploopusgirl said...

Okay, Sloan, then answer this, according to your own logic in your last post. I hate you and often throw personal attacks at you: what minority group must I hate because of this??

Sloanasaurus said...

Hmmm... I am stumped.

Prove Bush is a liar, and then I will prove to you that Mrs. Sheehan is a Jew hater.

Aaron said...

To decry against Israel in the midst of a unilateral pull out by the Israeli government from Gaza is I think defacto proof of an irrational obsession with Israel and probably the Jews. To obsess overthe middle east and walk away thinking Israel is the biggest offender there and needs to be demonized is typical left-wing anti-semitism. I think Israel can be criticized but to single out such a tiny country whos sins are so minor compared to its neighbors and its virtues so profound shows a moral confusion that seems irrational. Irrational hatred associated with the only Jewish state should be assumed to be anti-semitic. I think the onus should be on rabid anti-Israeli's to prove they aren't bigoted, anti-semitic jerks. I think that many would fail when forced to confront their thinking. It may wake some people up to some of the creepy dark placestheir ideas are oozing from. I think that those who can prove decent bonafides in criticizing Israel would have more credibility. I now write almost every left-wing critic of Israel off just like I do right-wings. Of course I am a Jew so my opinion doesn't count.

ploopusgirl said...

Aaron, I think you're my favorite. Left-wing anti-semitism!! You know, because the right is so accepting of everyone. Just today I was speaking with one of my right-wing coworkers, and the phrases "You know how they feel about Spanish-looking people," and "Indians don't know how to act," and "Oh, God. She's Haitian? Kill me now." I've always known conservatives to be the most open-minded and diverse.

Sloanasaurus said...

I think Aaron is right. Left-wing anti-semitism is based on the classic anti-semitism. It comes straight out of medeival europe. it is based on the fantasy belief that Jews are rich greedy capitalists who use their wealth to put down the workers. In contrast, Nazi anti-semitism was based on "racial purity" in that Jews were corrupting the national identity.

Anti-semitism is a deep engrained disease of Europe that has existed for 1000+ years. I wonder if this deep rooted disease has partially led to Europeans quick "acceptance" of so many muslim immigrants.

Aaron said...

ploopusgirl:

I doubt you are still reading this thread but if you do:

Your post used the Tu Qoque defense. You argue that my point that some on the left are anti-semites is wrong because some on the right are worse. Which is to say that you posted some anecdotal evidence of racism on the right. I have met racists of both right and left stripe. I suspect you may have as well. I suggest you familiarize yourself with the history of the hard left and the Jews. Soviet Union - no friend to Jews. Chavez in Venezuela made some disturbing comments and actions recently. The common trope of Jews as Nazis for the occupation made commonplace in the anti-war movement - a disgusting moral equivalence. This is just a few off the top of my head. Just because you think the right is wrong wrong wrong does not make the left all sweetness and light. Are you this ignorant?