Three-ring war

I haven’t so much as mentioned Cindy Sheehan because I think it’s a story about both sides using her and vice versa. It’s a hall of mirrors and PR, this story. A clear illustration of that comes when you read Frank Rich in the New York Times alongside Patrick Frey (aka Patterico) in the LA Times. Rich:

True to form, the attack on Cindy Sheehan surfaced early on Fox News, where she was immediately labeled a “crackpot” by Fred Barnes. The right-wing blogosphere quickly spread tales of her divorce, her angry Republican in-laws, her supposed political flip-flops, her incendiary sloganeering and her association with known ticket-stub-carrying attendees of “Fahrenheit 9/11.” Rush Limbaugh went so far as to declare that Ms. Sheehan’s “story is nothing more than forged documents – there’s nothing about it that’s real.”

But this time the Swift Boating failed, utterly, and that failure is yet another revealing historical marker in this summer’s collapse of political support for the Iraq war.

When the Bush mob attacks critics like Ms. Sheehan, its highest priority is to change the subject….

Frey:

But in its apparent zeal to portray Sheehan as the Rosa Parks of the antiwar movement, the Los Angeles Times has omitted facts and perspectives that might undercut her message or explain the president’s reluctance to meet with her again….

Sheehan’s changing accounts of her meeting with Bush are relevant to understanding the president’s decision not to meet with her again. So are her descriptions of the president in a Dallas speech reported by leftist newsletter Counterpunch as a “lying bastard,” a “maniac” and the leader of a “destructive neocon cabal.” In an article for CommonDreams.org, she called that supposed cabal “the “biggest terrorist outfit in the world.”

She also has turned her son’s death into a tax protest, refusing to pay her income taxes for 2004, the year her son died, reportedly saying in the Dallas speech: “You killed my son, George Bush, and I don’t owe you a penny.” Sheehan’s use of such inflammatory rhetoric sheds light on why Bush likely sees little upside in a public confrontation with her. But you would never know about these statements from reading The Times’ news pages….

Both accounts then try to spin the story of her son’s death: Rich concentrates on the worthlessness of the Iraqi forces, Frey concentrates on Casey Sheehan reenlisting the day after the war started and volunteering for the mission in which he died.

I’m more with Frey than Rich on this but I still find that the Sheehan story has been made into a bizarre and often sad sideshow by the hangers-on and the attackers and the spinsters and certainly by the media, who love a circus and it’s a circus they have.

: LATER: In the comments, Frey/Patterico wants to make clear:

I would just emphasize that my piece was intended as media criticism, not as criticism of Sheehan herself. Internet readers know the facts I discuss in my piece, but people who get their news exclusively from the news pages of the LA Times (if such people exist) don’t.

Yes, we’re both criticizing the media. Patrick was clear in his lead that he has great sympathy, as anyone should, for Sheehan’s loss.

  • MisterPundit

    I personally think Cindy Sheehan’s protest would have been much more effective if she didn’t sound so much like a deranged conspiracy nut. A new poll suggests most Americans disapprove of her (which is telling since most Americans probably don’t even know just how off the charts some her statements really are).

    I feel sorry for the rest fo the Sheehan family. What a circus.

  • dtlc

    1. Jeff writes: “the media, who love a circus and it’s a circus they have.”

    EXACTLY. And Cindy Sheehan is the willing participant (giving 250 interviews in one day) a point I made yesterday in this post –


    “AL GORE CALLS CINDY SHEEHAN TO TONE DOWN HER DRIVE”

    Is Gore running in 08? Where is Naomi Wolfe when you need her?

    2. The other important point that has not been raised is that no “serious” Democratic contender for Presidency wants to be seen with her. No photo-op.

    (a) Well, Sen. John Edwards didn’t have balls and had his wife, Elizabeth Edwards to send a letter of support. Did someone castrate him?

    (b) I wonder how many of the Democratic candidates will ask for money, time, resources, votes from Cindy’s supporters.

    3. It also appears that she has more influence and authority in foreign affairs than Sen. SISSY BIDEN – the “smartest man in the Senate” (my ass) – and the shadow Secretary of State. And this loser and intellectual midget wants to be President.

    First, change that “ugly toupe joei and replace your spine” You can run, but you can’t hide, SISSY

    4. Is someone filing a legal action against her to move her out of Crawford?


    “COURT RESTRAINED CINDY SHEEHAN FROM CAMPING OUTSIDE”

    5. Is Cindy Sheehan an Anti-semite or the charge is used against her to smear her campaign for peace?


    “CINDY SHEEHAH TO ASSESS ZIONIST DOCTORS AND PRES. BUSH’S RECKLESS HEALTH CARE POLICIES”

  • http://www.geise.com/index.php/GD-Linksville/Items/ PXLated

    Neither side tells the whole story…Besides, it’s yesterday’s news…She’s gone home.

  • http://knownunknowns.blogspot.com slickdpdx

    I think the key to the Sheehan thing is this: she is mad with grief. That enables people who agree with her anti-war stance to ignore her more bizarre rants while said bizarre rants are used by those who don’t agree to discredit her.

  • http://avc.blogs.com fred

    the real story is that america is losing patience with the war and Bush.

  • http://patterico.com Patterico

    I would just emphasize that my piece was intended as media criticism, not as criticism of Sheehan herself. Internet readers know the facts I discuss in my piece, but people who get their news exclusively from the news pages of the LA Times (if such people exist) don’t.

  • Chancy

    “the real story is that America is losing patience with the war and Bush. ”

    Fred You are so right…or at least the majority of Americans are and I am one of them.
    —————————————————————–
    “In the Democrats’ radio address, former Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia ticked off numbers indicating this war’s toll – nearly 2,000 service members killed, more than 15,000 wounded and some soldiers returning for their third tour.
    “We need a strategy to win in Iraq or an exit strategy to leave,” said Cleland. ”The present course will lead us to disaster. More of the same just means more precious blood spilled in the desert.”

    Chancy

  • Gunther

    Patterico:

    “I would just emphasize that my piece was intended as media criticism, not as criticism of Sheehan herself.”

    However…

    “Sheehan’s changing accounts of her meeting with Bush are relevant to understanding the president’s decision not to meet with her again.”

    “In an article for CommonDreams.org, she called that supposed cabal “the “biggest terrorist outfit in the world.”

    “She also has turned her son’s death into a tax protest,”

    “Likewise, while The Times reported that Cindy’s husband, Patrick Sheehan, has filed for divorce ..”

    This has nothing to do with media coverage, and everything to do with sliming her and her reputation. You do it in an artful manner but it’s still nothing more than a continuation of the attacks from the right we’ve seen all week. You aren’t fooling anyone (well, perhaps Jarivs but that’s not surprising”).

  • kl

    So those statements are false, Gunther?

  • Stan

    - it is so beyond sheehan – our generation uses emotion as an excuse for lack of intellect. – the war could be fought more intelligent – the reasons against it could be made more intelligent – we make decisions that are life and death to others, but we appear like retards doing fingerpainting…

  • Ed Rusch

    You know, Jeffo, you are a real loser. Did you actually read the commondreams.org article?

    Did you?

    Please do.

    http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0820-30.htm

    Then tell me where she calls Bush a terrorist.

    THE WORD TERRORIST DOES NOT APPEAR IN THE ARTICLE.

    Jarvis, you are such a loser. And now you’re officially part of the sliming of Cindy Sheehan because you’re too lazy to check things out.

    Loser.

  • penny

    This has nothing to do with media coverage, and everything to do with sliming her and her reputation.

    Christopher Hitchens has summed Sheehan up best here and here. Sheehan has slimed herself.

    Her son was an adult. He made his choice and acted on his convictions as an adult. It’s dispicable that she would use his death politically as a useful idiot for the Left. Her family has renounced her. She has been endorsed by the racist and anti-semitic likes of David Duke. She has endorsed Lynne Stewart, a convicted terrorist supporter.

    So, Gunther, just what is it about Sheehan that you find so defensible given those facts?

  • Geek, Esq.

    The whole thing is a damn disgrace. Hijacked on the left and Swiftboated on the right.

    The iconography of the victim is really a bizarre thing–this reminds me all too much of the Terri Schiavo nonsense.

  • Syl

    “the real story is that america is losing patience with the war and Bush. ”

    But not all those people want to cut and run. Many of them are impatient because they want us to fight harder. Others are impatient because they want us to do something about Syria and Iran. And many want more concentration on our borders.

    Don’t count on lack of patience with Iraq and Bush as support for Dem talking points. It’s not.

  • http://patterico.com Patterico

    Here’s the correct link to the CommonDreams article:

    http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0606-29.htm

    Ed, are you going to admit to being too lazy to check things out?

    Gunther:

    “Sheehan’s changing accounts of her meeting with Bush are relevant to understanding the president’s decision not to meet with her again.”

    “In an article for CommonDreams.org, she called that supposed cabal “the “biggest terrorist outfit in the world.”

    “She also has turned her son’s death into a tax protest,”

    and finally, the one you Dowdified to make your point:

    “Likewise, while The Times reported that Cindy’s husband, Patrick Sheehan, has filed for divorce — which may or may not pertain to her recent activities — it has not mentioned that other members of Sheehan’s family have clearly distanced themselves from her protest, as reported in the San Jose Mercury News.”

    These are all pure media criticism.

    As to the last quote, which you Dowdified: when I said that The Times had not reported that family members had distanced themselves from her protest, Times editors insisted that I acknowledge that they had reported the part about the divorce. I told them I didn’t think it was necessarily relevant, but they wanted it in there — so I insisted that a qualifier be placed in to show clearly that it didn’t necessarily have anything to do with anything.

    The rest of the quotes are pure valid media criticism — things that Americans have a right to know about Ms. Sheehan, and help to explain why the president has steered clear of her a second time. I can understand why partisan leftists such as yourself might want this information hidden from Americans, but I can’t see why any fair-minded person would.

  • Charles Giacometti

    Jeff,

    Since your post included a glaring error by Mr. Frey, could you please print a retraction?

    You are also cited in Instapundit, and he is famous for pointing out errors in the media. Could you ask him to also print a retraction?

    Thanks,

    Charles

  • kl

    http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0606-29.htm

    All of Casey’s commendations say that he was killed in the “GWOT” the Global War on Terrorism. I agree with most of GWOT, except that Casey was killed in the Global War Of Terrorism waged on the world and its own citizens by the biggest terrorist outfit in the world: George and his destructive Neo-con cabal.

    (Whoops!)

  • kl

    Since your post included a glaring error by Mr. Frey, could you please print a retraction?

    Are you going to make him guess what the “glaring error” was?

  • http://patterico.com Patterico

    Charles,

    Since your comment made a glaring error — by accusing me of an error I didn’t make (which you could have easily noted by reading through the comment thread and clicking on the link I provided) — could you please print a retraction?

    Same goes for Ed, who started the ball of false accusations rolling.

    Thanks,

    Mr. Frey

  • http://www.elflife.com/ Carson Fire

    “Swiftboating” continues to be used as a word based on the fantasy that the Swiftboaters were lying. Similarly, Republicans who understand Sheehan’s loss yet point to her wild rhetoric are not “lying” or “sliming” — they are simply pointing to the relevant facts of the case, just as the “Swifties” did when they forced Kerry to backtrack on some of his wilder war stories (i.e., actual lies about exploits in Cambodia, citing orders from Nixon before he was actually president, etc).

    Most on the right, as a matter of fact, have been very slow to criticize Sheehan, and seem to be doing so with some reluctance. It’s the PR push from the left that has forced them into doing so.

    So I suppose in a real sense, this was “Swiftboating” in that true, relevant facts were used to counteract fictional press puffery. The polls do indeed indicate the quiet loathing Americans have for Sheehan’s actions, and do not indicate an America that is “losing patience with the war and Bush” — this is simply wishful thinking on the part of people who were against Bush in the first place.

    I’m hoping for the sake of Cindy Sheehan that this return to LA is a permanent retreat from the spotlight, and that she gets on tending to her own affairs. I fear that the left, in its eagerness to exploit her, has made her life a greater misery. Despite leftist accusations of “sliming” by the right, I have no doubt that most are praying for her welfare.

  • Dwilkers

    In any case, Patterico’s column was a media criticism, not an attack on Sheehan. All one has to do is read the article to see that.

    The lefties in this thread would put him in a catch 22, where he cannot explain what the problem is with the media coverage without “smearing” Sheehan. How then is he supposed to make his point about the media coverage (which IMO has been loathesome)?

    The real creeps in this episode are the one on the left using Sheehan to make crass political points, and who will discard her like an empty beer can in the next few days when she is no longer useful to them.

  • http://patterico.com Patterico

    Charles and Ed,

    Or, instead of apologizing and retracting, you guys could just slink off and pretend like you didn’t baselessly accuse me and Jeff of an error. That’s what I’m kinda expecting here.

  • kat

    Don’t hold your breath.

  • Charles Giacometti

    Mr. Frey,

    You are correct. I did not read the thread carefully enough. You did not make an error; I did.

    Charles

  • http://patterico.com Patterico

    Very stand-up of you, Charles. Truly.

    Reading your comments and Ed’s again, I shouldn’t have been surprised to you see you back here owning up to your error in a mature fashion. Your comment, while wrong, was respectful in tone. I should have distinguished between you and Ed when I wrote that I thought the two of you would “slink off.” I apologize to you for that.

    Ed’s comment, by contrast, was pure name-calling. I have a strong feeling he’s not going to be as stand-up as Charles. Slinking off is exactly what I figure he’ll do, because he came out of the gate calling Jeff a “loser” multiple times. I just don’t think the guy has class in him.

  • whodat

    Ed– how bout it? Hello? Ed?

    As for Cindy Sheehan–very wacky, whatever your political lean.

  • http://patterico.com Patterico

    Calling Ed Rusch! Yes — the same Ed Rusch who calls people names based upon his own errors and then slinks off and refuses to admit them! *That* Ed Rusch!

    Ed?

    Ed?

    (Does anyone else hear crickets chirping?)