Drooling on the Pillow

Monday, August 22, 2005

Politics Ain't Bean Bags 

We should think long and hard about the fact that about half the country takes Cindy Sheehan seriously. All of the left, and I don't mean the hard left or the looney left, but just about everyone who didn't vote for George Bush seems perfectly willing sign on, or at least pretend to sign on, to the Mother Sheehan/Camp Casey fantasy. If there are Democrats who have asked for a pause in the sanctification of the poor woman, I haven't heard of them.

That fantasy was spelled out, predictably, in an Op Ed in the Times on Sunday by the polemicist Frank Rich. He called the process of the right defending itself "Swift Boating".

Brilliant. With the Roberts nomination and the term "Borking" in the air, it's time to come up with a short hand term for the brutish behavior of Republicans.

In Mr. Rich's world, of course, the Swift Boat Vets were the bad guys. Fair enough. But slandering dozens of veterans who raise questions about the very hinky war record of one veteran doesn't seem fair. He expands the term to include other military opponents of Bush who have been "smeared": John McCain and Max Cleland. McCain was smeared in the course of a political campaign, whether by the President's people or people who thought they were acting in the interests of the President is not clear. In any event, McCain wasn't disturbed enough not to campaign vigorously for the President in 2004. It's nice that Frank is still worried about him.

Max Cleland was not smeared and the notion that his patriotism was questioned during the 2000 Senate campaign is one of the fondest fantasies of the left. He was spectacularly out of step with his constituency and when someone finally stepped up and said so, he and all his friends began to whine about fairness. Ever since Cleland went down in flames it has been almost impossible to engage a Democrat on the issues without being accused of questioning their patriotism. Enough already. What we need is a shorthand for "You're very patriotic. You're also an idiot."

Another 'victim' is Joe Wilson, described, ludicrously, as a whistle blower. Wilson is known for blowing his own horn. He's also known as a liar. Am I smearing? Am I Swift Boating? Is the fact that he is a liar relevant at all?

You get the idea. What you are reading here is the far right noise machine. What you hear from Sheehan and Cleland and Wilson is courage wrapped in righteousness surrounded by victimology. Republicans who defend themselves are engaging in hate speech. "This country is not worth dying for" cannot be challenged because the first amendment says Democrats can't be challenged. Or something.

The fact that main stream Democrats are unwilling or unable to look at Cindy Sheehan and see a woman with very little idea of what's going on around her says more about them than her. What she has to offer is her grief, but, like Camus said, suffering does not give you rights. It would be nice if it did, but it doesn't. The things that come out of Ms. Sheehan's mouth, you've heard them, speak for themselves. That Democrats are willing to allow her to speak for them, I think is disgusting.
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