For Cindy Sheehan, it was only a matter of time.
The self-proclaimed “Face of the Anti-War Movement” – such as it is – has decided to retire from the fray and try and find some peace in her own life:
I am going to take whatever I have left and go home. I am going to go home and be a mother to my surviving children and try to regain some of what I have lost. I will try to maintain and nurture some very positive relationships that I have found in the journey that I was forced into when Casey died and try to repair some of the ones that have fallen apart since I began this single-minded crusade to try and change a paradigm that is now, I am afraid, carved in immovable, unbendable and rigidly mendacious marble.
Her reasons? They are many and varied but basically, she wants to quit because no one is listening to her anymore. She has been used up and spit out by a news media that demands drama, pathos, conflict, and above all, something new every day out of its media heroes. And Sheehan, at first portrayed as noble, then single minded, then weird, and now pathetic has seen her time on the national stage run out like a coin operated peep show that goes dark because we’ve stopped putting money into the slot.
I wasn’t the only one who predicted her ultimate fate. But when I wrote this a year and a half ago, the writing was on the wall already:
And Sheehan, once hailed as the Madonna of the American anti-war movement among the more mainstream Democrats finds almost all of her erstwhile supporters tip-toeing away hoping no one will notice or remember that they and their allies in the media made her such into such a heroic figure. No peacenik Joan of Arc she…
Now she looks behind her and instead of seeing throngs of admirers she sees the crouching tigers and hidden dragons of gimlet eyed radicals who only see the war as a way to divide America so they can conquer her.
Should we pity her loss? Yes, but for how much longer? When does her radicalism negate whatever sacrifice she has given in the effort to defeat Islamism, that other radical ideology whose rhetoric about the west and America is so similar that it could have been born of the same motherâ€™s tongue? In Sheehanâ€™s case, her message of hate will continue to fade until only the echoes of abomination and self-loathing are heard in the mostly empty halls and rooms of a radical on the declining slope of notoriety.
Sophocles rightly said â€œOnly the dead are free from pain.â€ For Cindy Sheehan, there will come a time when she prays for the playwrightâ€™s wisdom to overtake her folly.
Most of the reaction on the left has been sympathetic with angry words for Democratic lawmakers who won’t commit political suicide and jump over the cut and run cliff with the rest of the netnuts and support either an immediate end to the war – as Sheehan and the hard left advocate – or try and defund the troops via the chimerical solution of timetables.
But in trying to assess Sheehan’s impact on the anti-war “movement” – which despite the polls showing Americans disgusted with Bush and the war, to this day still looks more like a disorganized rabble of anarchists, greenies, anti-globalists, conspiracy nuts, and Bush hating bloggers – one needs to look at how her crusade morphed from a vigil held outside of Bush’s Texas ranch in an effort manufacture a “Chief Brody slap” moment into a global crusade that included cozying up to anti-American fascists like Hugo Chavez and associations with anti-Semitic groups like the “Crawford Peace House” who posits outrageous conspiracy theories about Jews.
Sheehan was captured wholly and truly by a subset of the left that is not interested in ending the war as much as they are determined to bring down the established order in the United States through any means necessary. They are not mainstream in any sense of the word. The list of groups allied to her cause read like a Who’s Who of anti-American zealotry. And while she tried to disavow some of these supporters – including several openly racist and anti-Semitic neo-Nazi organizations – the stench of their nauseating ideologies became too much for most mainstream Democrats as well as the press who eventually let her slide into obscurity.
As far as more mainstream opposition to the war, Sheehan’s sins were either forgiven or ignored. All this group ever saw was the motherly visage, the genuine tears of sorrow at her tragic loss, and her over the top, exaggerated anti-Bush rhetoric that was quoted lovingly on lefty websites with the explanation that she was “speaking truth to power.” How calling New Orleans an “occupied city” and advocating the looting of stores because, after all, it’s just “stuff,” can be considered anything except the wild rantings of a disturbed woman is beyond me.
Tammy Bruce deconstructs Sheehan’s blog post that I linked above, pointing out the cloying self pity and self-serving nature of the screed. Here, she translates a few of Sheehan’s ravings:
6. I wasted all my money and ignored my family to try to prove to myself I am not the attention whore that apparently I am. (“I have also reached the conclusion that if I am doing what I am doing because I am an “attention whore” then I really need to be committed.”)
7. America is an ungrateful bitch. (“I have invested everything I have into trying to bring peace with justice to a country that wants neither.”)
8. I’m in debt and won’t pay my bills because America is evil. (“my hospital bills from last summer (when I almost died) are in collection because I have used all my energy trying to stop this country from slaughtering innocent human beings.”)
9. Americans are stupid and vapid and don’t care. (“Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months.”)
10. Everyone is jealous of me because I get all the attention. (“This group wonâ€™t work with that group; he wonâ€™t attend an event if she is going to be there; and why does Cindy Sheehan get all the attention anyway?”)
11. Everyone is doomed, so I’m getting out while I can. (“Our brave young men and women in Iraq have been abandoned there indefinitely by their cowardly leaders who move them around like pawns on a chessboard of destruction and the people of Iraq have been doomed to death and fates worse than death …I am going to take whatever I have left and go home.”)
12. I need money. (“Camp Casey has served its purpose. Itâ€™s for sale. Anyone want to buy five beautiful acres in Crawford , Texas ? I will consider any reasonable offer.”)
A strange mixture of sincere, grief stricken mom and shameless anti-war huckster, she. And I can’t help reflecting on the fact that the adversity faced by other boat rockers in American history – Martin Luther King, Susan B. Anthony, Margaret Sanger, Al Lowenstein, and Frederick Douglas to name a few – make Sheehan’s “ordeal” look like a walk in the park. All of those worthies had much higher mountains to climb and extremely powerful forces arrayed against them. They never quit. They all kept fighting to their dying breath for what they believed in. It makes Sheehan’s pathetic blatherings and whiny, self-absorbed musings seem wretchedly shallow and insincere by comparison.
The left may find cause to congratulate her and wish her well. My hope is that she returns home and seeks out a competent mental health professional to help her overcome the devastating loss of her son. I don’t expect her to recant her radicalism. But I think a little perspective gained would ease her suffering and perhaps bring a bit of peace into her tumultuous and ultimately tragic life.