Blogs > HNN > Cindy and George

Aug 15, 2005 12:13 pm

Cindy and George

Why won’t George Bush meet with Cindy Sheehan?

After all, he is frittering away his lengthy time at his Texas ranch with trivial vacation activities. Surely he can manage a few moments to meet with a distraught mother, grieving over the death of her son in the war Bush insisted upon waging in Iraq! Also, of course, Bush’s failure to meet with her is clearly a public relations disaster for him. Even many loyal Republicans are dismayed by this display of contempt for the stricken families of U.S. combat troops.

In fact, however, Bush’s cold shoulder to a meeting with Sheehan is not out of line with the response of past Presidents to their critics. Ronald Reagan, to be sure, met with two key opponents of his nuclear buildup policies – pediatrician Helen Caldicott and businessman Harold Willens. But he did so in these cases at the firm insistence of his daughter, Patti Davis. In other instances, the White House staff routinely blocked access to him by people who might raise doubts about his nuclear policies.

Why the cutoff of access to the White House? One reason, I think, is that the President’s top advisors are fearful that a face-to-face meeting with a critic of his policies might actually influence him and, thereby, throw administration policies into turmoil. Reagan, after all, did reverse himself on nuclear arms control and disarmament. Even more significant, I believe, is the fear of administration insiders that such a meeting would encourage critics by providing them a sense of empowerment. Give disgruntled citizens a whiff of genuine democracy and, soon, they’ll all be voicing their concerns! In these circumstances, political prudence seems to dictate that the less access to power, the better!

As a result, when it comes to Cindy and George, the public is left with a well-founded impression of Bush administration heartlessness.

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Oscar Chamberlain - 8/21/2005

"I support free speech and recognize her right to disagree with American policy, however my heart is broken for those that will die as a result of her irresponsible use of her freedom of speech."

She may be wrong to oppose the war, but but how is here utilizing her right to dissent irresponsible? All you are really saying is that the only correct form of speech right now is in support of the war.

Clark David Richards - 8/17/2005

It is a tragedy that her son died. Her tragedy is now becoming a greater tragedy for other American soldiers in Iraq. Her rhetoric now serves to embolden the enemy and can only serve to endanger more American servicemembers. For the President to speak with her again would dishonor her son, who volunteered to perform a duty that he viewed as noble and honorable, as well as other serving soldiers. I support free speech and recognize her right to disagree with American policy, however my heart is broken for those that will die as a result of her irresponsible use of her freedom of speech.

mark safranski - 8/16/2005

Hi Oscar,

I can only go by what the woman herself says and does.

And I agree, from a strictly political standpoint there's not a whole lot to be gained from either meeting Sheehan or stiffing her entirely.

Oscar Chamberlain - 8/16/2005


Again, unless you can point to something in her background, to simply dismiss her as a leftwing extremist is crude. She strikes me as someone who is looking for answers that make sense emotionally.

The problem with her understanding an answer from Bush--as opposed to an answer from the left--is that our military strategy has never matched the stated war aims. This makes it easy for a Chomsky-like answer to have resonance because such answers assume that the strategy reveals the war aims.

Having said that, if I were president, I would not meet with her either, though I might quietly send an aide over.

mark safranski - 8/15/2005


Of course she's entitled to her opinion just as you are entitled to agree with her opinion. The validity of Cindy Sheehan's opinions and the seriousness with which the rest of us should take them is another matter. As is her demand to meet with the president - again.

While the loss of her son was very sad he was not " murdered". That's factually incorrect. Nor did he go into combat on Israel's behalf. More nonsense.

"You tell me the truth. You tell me that my son died for oil. You tell me that my son died to make your friends rich. You tell me my son died to spread the cancer of Pax Americana, imperialism in the Middle East. You tell me that, you don't tell me my son died for freedom and democracy."

" Imperialism " ? " Cancer of Pax Americana" ? Who talks like that in real life except wingnuts ? I know a lot of Democrats and liberals who dislike Bush intensely and opposed the war. Not one of them has ever denounced American imperialism like Mao ZeDong circa 1955. This is activist cant.

Ms. Sheehan did not seem to have this vocabulary during her first meeting with the President:

"I now know he's sincere about wanting freedom for the Iraqis...I know he's sorry and feels some pain for our loss. And I know he's a man of faith."

Quite a shift.

I don't doubt the woman is suffering but that doesn't change the fact that she is a left-wing extremist who apparently believes a neocon- Israeli conspiracy controls the U.S. government.

tony reilley - 8/15/2005

Mark, she's an activist wingnut? Is that because she expresses her political opinions openly, or do you have some evidence of a bizarre history of political activism on her part? I mean, did she travel to Hanoi with Jane Fonda? What is it?
Are all mothers of fallen soldiers supposed to stay home and bake cookies instead?

mark safranski - 8/15/2005

Because, grieving mother or not, she's an activist wingnut who could easily pop off about anything on camera. Extremists, a category which fairly describes Sheehan, tend to say extreme things which is why Pelosi and top Senate Democrats are not going on the 6 o'clock news with her either for fear that she might start ranting about Israel and the Jews.

White House staffers generally try to keep even the crazies from their own political side away from the president. They are even less interested in giving the fringe from the other party a platform for their views.