Pointing out that "body bags aren't taking a vaction," anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan announced that she would be traveling to Martha's Vineyard to protest during the President's week-long getaway there next week.
The response from most of the media? Cue the crickets.
Well, with a couple of exceptions.
ABC's Charlie Gibson told Chicago's WLS radio the other day that "you have to be sympathetic to her. Anybody who has given a son to this country has made an enormous sacrifice, and you have to be sympathetic. But enough already."
And this morning on CNN, contributor John Avlon named her his left-wing "Wingnut of the Week." (Tom Delay got the right-wing honors.)
A former speechwriter for Rudy Giuliani who now holds himself up as a centerist, Avalon said: "Maybe she should spend a little more time protesting the Taliban. I mean, especially after this election, get a clue and sense of perspective."
Nothing better proves the inherent shallowness of modern commercial media than "enough already."
ABC and CNN couldn't wait to put her on the air when she opened "Camp Casey" on the road leading to George W. Bush's Texas ranch in the summer of 2005. For three years, she was the grief-stricken face of the anti-war movement. Her quixotic attempts to hold Bush accountable for his actions in manipulating the country into war in Iraq and Afghanistan were held up as the noble work of a mother on behalf of her dead son.
Of course, that was back when the dominant narrative was "Bush Lied, People Died." With the election of Barack Obama, people have moved on to hope and change and the inherent misery of being an American in 2009.
From an anti-war movement perspective, not much has changed. We're by no means out of the woods in Iraq. We're escalating in Afghanistan. One of his first acts as President was to order a increase of 17,000 troops into Afghanistan, even though many security experts doubt an increase in troops will lead to anything other than an increase in casualties.
On a good day, Iraqis and Afghans die by the dozen. On a bad day, they die by multiples of dozens. We literally can't count how many civilians have been killed in those countries over the last 8 years.
We can count our own dead and wounded. According to Defense Department returns, as of yesterday at 10 am, 5,118 soliders have died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Another 18,968 have been "WIA not RTD" -- Wounded in Action, Not Returned to Duty.
Even those raw numbers don't capture the toll of war. They don't show the suicides, attemped and successful. They don't show the marriages and families torn apart. They don't show those WIA who will spend the remainder of their lives coping with the affects of lost limbs and traumatic brain injuries.
"No good social or economic change will come about with the continuation or escalation of wars in Iraq, Afganistan or Pakistan," Sheehan said in announcing her summer travel plans.
And this is supposed to be "wingnut" talk?
According to a poll released last week, 51% of Americans now oppose our continued presence in Afganistan. Only 32% of those questioned supported the Obama policy.
I haven't always agreed with Sheehan's rhetoric or her tactics, but always worth our while to consider how we use our military power. The more we tune out, the more we become passive actors in our own national story.
At the VFW convention in Phoenix last week, Obama told the audience that Afghanistan is "not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity." Both those points are arguable. We should be willing to have the argument.
And Cindy, if you haven't already, get yourself some fleece socks. Nights up on the islands get mighty chilly this time of year.
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