Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Cindy Sheehan's War

Reading Maureen Dowd's column* is proof positive of my having too much free time on my hands during the lazy days of summer. Still, her article dovetails with a post that I made on the PoliPundit site the other day. I was playing with the idea of blogging Cindy Sheehan's protest outside the President's ranch in Crawford, Texas, but hesitated due to the sensitive nature of the subject. But with MoDo weighing in on the matter, I felt compelled to respond.

Sheehan is the mother of Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, who was killed in action by insurgents on April 4, 2004. The President met with Sheehan and her husband at Ft. Lewis on June 24, 2004 to console them and 16 other families of fallen troops. According to an article in the local paper, the meeting went well:

"We have a lot of respect for the office of the president, and I have a new respect for him because he was sincere and he didn't have to take the time to meet with us," Pat said.

Sincerity was something Cindy had hoped to find in the meeting. Shortly after Casey died, Bush sent the family a form letter expressing his condolences, and Cindy said she felt it was an impersonal gesture.

"I now know he's sincere about wanting freedom for the Iraqis," Cindy said after their meeting. "I know he's sorry and feels some pain for our loss. And I know he's a man of faith."

The meeting didn't last long, but in their time with Bush, Cindy spoke about Casey and asked the president to make her son's sacrifice count for something. They also spoke of their faith.

While meeting with Bush, as well as Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, was an honor, it was almost a tangent benefit of the trip. The Sheehans said they enjoyed meeting the other families of fallen soldiers, sharing stories, contact information, grief and support.

For some, grief was still visceral and raw, while for others it had melted into the background of their lives, the pain as common as breathing. Cindy said she saw her reflection in the troubled eyes of each.

"It's hard to lose a son," she said. "But we (all) lost a son in the Iraqi war."

The trip had one benefit that none of the Sheehans expected.

For a moment, life returned to the way it was before Casey died. They laughed, joked and bickered playfully as they briefly toured Seattle.

For the first time in 11 weeks, they felt whole again.

"That was the gift the president gave us, the gift of happiness, of being together," Cindy said.

But now, Sheehan has a different view:

Sheehan's current comments are a striking departure.

She vowed on Sunday to continue her protest until she can personally ask Bush: "Why did you kill my son?"

In an interview on CNN, she claimed Bush "acted like it was party" when she met him last year.

"It was -- you know, there was a lot of things said. We wanted to use the time for him to know that he killed an indispensable part of our family and humanity. And we wanted him to look at the pictures of Casey.

"He wouldn't look at the pictures of Casey. He didn't even know Casey's name. He came in the room and the very first thing he said is, 'So who are we honoring here?' He didn't even know Casey's name. He didn't want to hear it. He didn't want to hear anything about Casey. He wouldn't even call him 'him' or 'he.' He called him 'your loved one.'

Every time we tried to talk about Casey and how much we missed him, he would change the subject. And he acted like it was a party.

BLITZER: Like a party? I mean...

SHEEHAN: Yes, he came in very jovial, and like we should be happy that he, our son, died for his misguided policies. He didn't even pretend like somebody...

So, what has happened since then?

I won't speculate. Instead, I'll provide this link, and let you draw your own conclusion.

PS - Bill O'Reilly will devote his Talking Points segment of the O'Reilly Factor to The Fascinating Saga Of Cindy Sheehan. He has extended an offer to Sheehan to appear on the segment and make her case, but so far, she hasn't accepted the offer. Stay tuned.

*[Note: Registration required for access to this article, or use BugMeNot.]

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