Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Sheehan Thing

I wrote an editorial piece for the NY Post, published in Monday’s paper, ( I wrote the words on Saturday morning, well in advance, while the story was still developing. My editor at the Post suggested, and I agreed that we treat Mrs. Sheehan with some sympathy, while disagreeing with her position. It seemed like the kind and respectful thing to do, and still allowed for a critique of her message. Much of the blame for the situation seemed to fall on elements of the left who were exploiting her grief.

I have in the past ninety six hours become far less sympathetic. As a soldier and a son, I still deeply regret the pain she must be suffering; I have lost comrades in this war and that is painful. But when I address her in the future Mrs. Sheehan will find me less kind.

If Cindy Sheehan is a pawn of the left, she is a willing and a knowing one. She was deeply liberal even before her son deployed. She has chosen to stand with the likes of Michael Moore, accepting his website as a host for her blog. She had rather apparently changed her story of her encounter with President Bush, originally calling him sympathetic last year. She has used her new soapbox to address issues far beyond the ken of Iraq, such as the Israeli situation.

Her defenders on the left have assailed her critics, like Michelle Malkin and Bill O'Reilly for attacking a grieving mother. One of the reasons for the "kid glove" treatment that I gave her was to examine the issue without eliciting this response. But the defense of her stand on grounds that criticizing her is cruelty to a suffering soul has been exposed for the nonsense it is. Mrs. Sheehan is using her loss and her grief to make a political point. She has chosen to make the personal public. And she has done it in ways that are deceitful and manipulative.

Maybe Mrs. Sheehan thought that the American public would suddenly come around to her decidedly radical point of view out of sympathy. More likely, as with many on the left, she has no idea how far from the mainstream her views are. And where she does see a gap she likely attributes it to ignorance. Not her own, of course, but the public's. She quite possibly sees the loss of her son as an opportunity to re-educate the un-learned masses.

I'm still sorry that Casey Sheehan died. I feel great sympathy with his entire family. I even respect his mother's right to disagree with national policy, publicly if she chooses. But that doesn't mean that I will accept unchallenged any amount of inaccurate or disingenuous pabulum that she passes off as truth.

It seems that much of the media has accepted anything that she says at face value. Those had the courage to challenge her from the outset were viewed as monsters. It is the job of journalists to ascertain the facts. In this case many journalists let there sympathies, with her loss, her politics or both override their mission.

O'Reilly and Michelle and others have once again been demonized for advancing the cause of truth. But they haven't so much as attacked a grief stricken mother as exposed a deceitful woman using her loss to manipulate the media. Once again it's a shame. But at this point it seems the shame is on Mrs. Sheehan as much as her allies.


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