The Mother of All P.R. Battles
Not that the blogging universe is exactly crying out for yet another weigh-in on the Cindy Sheehan media circus, but here's mine. Please forgive the lateness of my unsolicited opinion, but I've been lost in my own world these past few weeks, what with pre-baby stuff and whatnot ...
Let me just say this: Despite my own considerable disgust with our Prevaricator in Chief, I don't share the scorn of my pal Token Liberal and so many others who say he should meet with Sheehan, the anti-war protester whose 24-year-old son is among the more than 1,800 U.S.troops killed in Iraq.
While I believe the Iraq War was and is a deadly and tragically unnecessary mistake, I don't see what real-world purpose would be served by Bush sidling down the driveway for a chat with Sheehan. It's a lose-lose proposition for him, and it will neither further the public debate over Iraq policy nor placate a grieving mother. You can sympathize with Cindy Sheehan's pain and passion, but that doesn't justify whatever she wants.
Whether or not she has some crackpot ideas, as the right-wing goon squad purports, is immaterial.
First, no one's mind would be changed by such a meeting. And if the hypothetical discussion between the mother and the mofo were to be private, as it surely would be (assuming, for an instant, it will ever happen), it's assured that Sheehan would characterize Bush's demeanor as cold and uncaring. He would be at the mercies of whatever she said unless cameras were rolling on the actual confrontation, and that scenario would expose the Prez to all sorts of media stunts that he doesn't need to risk.
As arrogant and detestable as Christopher Hitchens is, I'll concede his assessment of the Sheehan demand is on the money:
"Any citizen has the right to petition the president for redress of grievance, or for that matter to insult him to his face. But the potential number of such people is very large, and you don't have the right to cut in line by having so much free time that you can set up camp near his drive. Then there is the question of civilian control over the military, which is an authority that one could indeed say should be absolute. The military and its relatives have no extra claim on the chief executive's ear. Indeed, it might be said that they have less claim than the rest of us, since they have voluntarily sworn an oath to obey and carry out orders."
Finally, a strange precedent would be set, one in which the president of the United States, a guy ostensibly saddled with the busiest schedule and greatest burdens in the free world, must personally hear out the complaints of every fallen soldier's kin.
OK, granted, it's not as if he seems to be that busy, what with clearing brush on his ranch (Crawford, Texas, apparently has an endless supply of photo-op brush), but y'know, there's always the possibility that vacation will end and then Dumbya will have to get back to work, and pronto.
There are a lot of serious questions to ponder with Iraq -- such as an exit strategy, for one -- but the Cindy Sheehan spectacle isn't worth the ink.