It’s been a while since I paid any attention to the “catalyst for the anti-war movement,” Cindy Sheehan. This is not because she has dropped below the radar of the mainstream press because she hasn’t. Her recent foray into international politics has guaranteed that her 15 minutes of fame usually vouchsafed by the media will keep being renewed like some horrible sitcom that refuses to die. Her trip to the socialist paradise of Venezuela last month where she played kissy-face with one of the most nauseating leaders on the planet is a case in point.
Hugo Chavez is not only an anti-American Latin lefty thug but also one of the weirdest dictators you’re likely to run into. His weekly four-hour rants are broadcast nationwide. The name of the show “Hello President,” features Chavez reading newspapers and commenting on the issues of the day. One recent show lasted 6 hours. Considering that Americans won’t even watch George Clooney for three hours, it tells you something about this guy’s ego that he actually believes the long-suffering people of Venezuela tune in to watch this comedian do his schtick. At least Cuba’s Fidel Castro has a captive audience during his weekly 3 hour ravings, as the Commandante appears on all broadcast and radio channels at the same time. Chavez has to compete with soccer, Latin music shows, and other more uplifting programs which probably mean that his ratings are as close to zero as can be imagined.
But that didn’t stop our peace mom from appearing with him at something called the “World Social Forum,” an annual gathering of anti-war and anti-globalization activists. During a live “Hello President” insomnia-curing show, Chavez showed why the CIA would be doing the world a huge favor if they deposed this fellow:
Chavez said Sheehan had invited him to join her April protest at Bushâ€™s Crawford, Texas, ranch. Sheehan, whose 24-year-old soldier son Casey was killed in Iraq in 2004, held a vigil outside Bushâ€™s ranch during the presidentâ€™s vacation in August, attracting some 12,000 peace activists and reinvigorating the national anti-war movement.
â€œMaybe Iâ€™ll put up my tent also,â€ Chavez said, to applause from an audience invited to his weekly broadcast on the final day of the World Social Forum, an annual gathering of anti-war and anti-globalization activists.
Chavez said his government would help protest the war in Iraq by supporting a drive to gather petitions and delivering them to the U.S. Embassy in Caracas. Chavez, who before the war in Iraq had friendly relations with Saddam Hussein, has been a frequent and strident critic of the war.
First, it is important to note that this story was written by the Associated Press, consistently one of Sheehan’s biggest boosters. The use of the figure “12,000” protesters at Crawford is laughably over-inflated. Sheehan, by order of the local Sheriff, had about 200 people camping out with her at any one time during her 5 week stay in Crawford, Texas. That, plus the fact that no “event” conjured up by her handlers and PR gurus ever drew more than 2-3,000 people puts the lie to that AP figure. There were never anywhere near 12,000 anti-war activists at any one time within 50 miles of the President’s ranch.
It is just one more example of the media’s desire to portray Sheehan as the head of a massive grass roots movement to end the war. There is plenty of dissatisfaction by both the right and the left with the way that things are going in Iraq. But to date, that unease has not translated into the kind of massive protests seen during the Viet Nam War. But that hasn’t seemed to stop the media – and the AP especially from turning Sheehan into some kind of peace goddess. Check out this AP piece that appeared today and tell me if you don’t get the sense that there’s a halo surrounding Sheehan:
Still liable to tear up when talking about her son, she says her issue is right and wrong, not left and right. She points out that she has criticized Democrats, including Feinstein, for their war stance and has no problem supporting Republicans who oppose the war.
She is co-founder of the nonprofit Gold Star Families for Peace, wrote a book “Not One More Mother’s Child,” and is working on another.
She gets help from groups including CODEPINK, a national woman’s peace group, and Veterans for Peace. Her own operation is small – herself, her sister and someone who helps out from time to time answering e-mail.
First of all, CODEPINK is much, much more than just a “woman’s peace group.” It is one of the more radical anti-globalization, anti-war, and pro-Palestinian groups out there. The fact that there are precious few mentions of the stomach-turning anti-semitism spouted by Sheehan should tell you that for far too long, the press has protected Sheehan by leaving out her incredibly viral anti-Semitic and anti-American rants and, instead concentrated on this poor little suburban mom who only wanted to meet with the President to ask him why her son had to die. That the press would have the effrontery to actually think that anyone older than 5 years of age believed that shows how desperate some in the press are to have the fantasies they write about with regard to an anti-war movement come true.
In the end, there simply is no massive wave of unrest over the war. There isn’t even the beginnings of it. What we have are the very same people who opposed the Iraq war in the first place, making the same arguments and tossing about the same blood libels about the Jews, the “neocons,” big oil, and Bush “cronies.” It’s enough to make one sick except we’ve grown so used to it by now that it has simply faded into the background cacophony of media bile spilled over the President and the war.
Sheehan will continue to be trotted out now and again in the hopes that her presence will add “legitimacy” to the anti-war crowd. But until the American people themselves – who are at best ambivalent at the moment about our continuing presence in Iraq – become convinced that the troops should come home and back that up with the kind of outrage we saw 40 years ago, Sheehan will remain a curiosity, an afterthought created by the media and manipulated by radicals who would like nothing better than to see the United States humiliated and their own radical socialist agenda become the law of the land.