1600 Vigils Were Held To Support Cindy Sheehan Last Night
One of the biggest misunderstandings of the political handlers of President Bush, and some, but certainly not all of his supporters is that much of the public cannot comprehend many complex political issues, but small issues that are more easy for the public to grasp can become major news, and can become a political minefield if not handled very well.
The Terry Schiavo incident became just that. The public cannot grasp all of the political or military ramifications of arms limitation, Iraq, or other foreign policy issues, nor can the public comprehend all the ramifications of economics issues. But an easy to understand issue like the Terry Schiavo feeding tube controversy or the vigil outside of President Bush's 5 week Crawford, Texas vacation site can be filled with plenty of political peril.
On the surface it seemed like the Terry Schiavo feeding tube controversy involved a compasionate concern that a handicapped woman who was not in mortal harm from any medical condition should not starved to death. I shared this moral concern. However, public reaction backfired on Republican's who got involved in the situation that the public thought should have been resolved by the family of Terry Schiavo. But the handlers of President Bush have learned little of the political perils of such public involvement in what the public considers to be private family matters, or the opposite of this, failing to show compassion to a mother who sacrificed a son in the Iraq War. Small events like this can cause massive politcal ramifications.
Last night, with the organizational help of of MoveOn.org, 1600 vigils to support Cindy Sheehan were held around America. And two more mothers from Portland, Oregon and other cities that lost sons are headed to Crawford, Texas to support Cindy Sheehan. The President, his handlers and some supporters do not understand that failing to meet with Cindy Sheehan is backfiring and weaking both support for the Iraq War, and the moral authority of his Presidency.
Of course the political views of Cindy Sheehan, that America should immediately leave Iraq are not realistic. Even if it is accepted that gross falsehoods were promoted to groom American public opinion to enter Iraq are acknowledged, this still does not detract from the fact that a mother sacrificed a son in the Iraq War that the President and his Administration heavily promoted. There is a moral obligation to meet with families who lost members in this war in the mind of the public regardless of their politics. A mother who lost a son in Iraq is viewed by the public as simply that, and her politics are unimportant.
The strategy of Bush, to ignore Cindy Sheehan, while meeting with wealthy fundraiser contributors on his Crawford ranch, while some of his conservative backers on Websites and other areas bitterly denounce Cindy Sheehan or anyone who suggests that wise politics is to meet with this woman and get the event over with and prevent a public confidence crisis for his administration, is clearly not working. Bush could present a warm human side to Cindy Sheehan, while respectfully disagreeing with her political views. Instead he is reinforcing the image of that "smirky" self-righteous politician with hard right supporters who bitterly denounce anyone who speaks ill of his policies. Most Americans do not like this image, including many who voted for Mr. Bush. The politics of nasty partisan attacks on a mother who sacrificed her son in the Iraq War are gutter politics. And the claims that her son should have known what he was getting himself into in Iraq, compare against the claims of Rumsfeld and others in the administration who claimed that Americans would be warmly welcomed in Iraq and the war would be very easy.
The wise political course is for Bush to meet with Sheehan. But in failing to do this, a whole undoing of his Iraq War policy may be resulting from failure to meet with Cindy Sheehan. Bush and some of his most partisan supporters need to accept reality that the Iraq War is very unpopular. And the Cindy Sheehan event is promoting numerous protests for the first time since this war. Now that the protest genie is out of the bottle, more and more war protests may become common. Bush has undertaken a giant step an undoing the moral authority of his presidency and promoting antiwar activity that may force an early exit from Iraq before the situation is stabilized there. The war may be wrong and based on clear falsehoods from the Bush Administration, yet since the U.S. has committed to this massive foreign policy mistake, it should be quickly concluded with leaving a stable government, police force and military in Iraq before America leaves if it really ever intends to leave.