Sean's Blog

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Sunday, August 21, 2005

Noemie Emery has a brilliant must read piece at The Weekly Standard about "the left's grief-based politics":
It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that for Dowd and her ilk, moral authority stems less from service or suffering than from the potential to cause serious trouble for Bush. Thus combat service gave great moral authority to John Kerry, running against Bush for president, but did nothing at all for the 100-plus Swift Boat Veterans who opposed Kerry, most of whom had more medals than Kerry, had more wounds than Kerry, and also served much longer terms. (Dowd and other liberals denounced these combat veterans as assassins and liars, denying the curative powers of service and sacrifice. But then, c'est la guerre.) To them, the grief of Cindy Sheehan is more valid than the grief of her husband and other numerous relatives, and much more valid than the grief of Linda Ryan, which they fail to acknowledge as meaningful. The grief of a Kristen Breitweiser is more meaningful than that of a Debra Burlingame, and much more meaningful than that of Ted Olson, whose wife died on the plane that went into the Pentagon, but who is also a conservative stalwart, whose wife was also a conservative stalwart, and who argued and won the case of Bush v. Gore. What's his moral authority? Do we need to ask?

Do we need to ask also what they have been doing to politics, with these poisoned injections of grief? The health of the political process rests upon vigorous argument, in which the back and forth is intense and protracted, so that the holes in all arguments--and there are holes in all arguments--are thoroughly aired and exposed. But no one wants a vigorous argument with a 30-year-old widow who has seen her husband burned to death in the wreckage of the World Trade Center towers, or with a parent who has just lost a son. No one wants to have an argument, period, or even be heard to be raising one's voice.

Political cut and thrust does not go well with the etiquette of bereavement, which tends to short-circuit all argument, which of course is the point. It inhibits argument, makes response awkward, and sometimes can stop it completely, putting an opponent in the position of Norm Coleman before the Wellstone Memorial fracas, in which Democrats were free to seek votes based on sentiment, while anything Coleman tried to say about Wellstone's replacement was called an insult to the dead. People who put mourners up front on policy issues are like robbers leaving a bank with a hostage between themselves and police fire. To do this on purpose, to drive an agenda, is beneath all contempt.
Very well said.

Mark Steyn:
Yet in the wreckage of Pat and Cindy Sheehan's marriage there is surely a lesson for the Democratic Party. As Cindy says, they're both Democrats, but she's "more liberal" and "more radicalized." There are a lot of less liberal and less radicalized Dems out there: They're soft-left-ish on health care and the environment and education and so forth; many have doubts about the war, but they love their country, they have family in the military, and they don't believe in dishonoring American soldiers to make a political point. The problem for the Democratic Party is that the Cindys are now the loudest voice: Michael Moore, Howard Dean, Moveon.org, and Air America, the flailing liberal radio network distracting attention from its own financial scandals by flying down its afternoon host Randi Rhodes to do her show live from Camp Casey. The last time I heard Miss Rhodes she was urging soldiers called up for Iraq to refuse to go -- i.e., to desert.

On unwatched Sunday talk shows, you can still stumble across the occasional sane, responsible Dem. But, in the absence of any serious intellectual attempt to confront their long-term decline, all the energy on the left is with the fringe. The Democratic Party is a coalition of Pat Sheehans and Cindy Sheehans, and the noisier the Cindys get the more estranged the Pats are likely to feel.

Sorry about that, but, if Mrs. Sheehan can insist her son's corpse be the determining factor in American policy on Iraq, I don't see why her marriage can't be a metaphor for the state of the Democratic Party.

Via Instapundit.

Patrick Frey of Patterico's Pontifications (www.patterico.com) has written an editorial for the L.A. Times that lists all the things that the Times did not tell it's readers about Cindy Sheehan.
For example, The Times uncritically reported Sheehan's claim that the president had behaved callously in a June 2004 meeting with her and her husband, refusing to look at pictures of Casey or listen to stories about him. The Times claimed without qualification that Sheehan "came away from that meeting dissatisfied and angry."

But the article failed to mention that Sheehan had previously described Bush as sincere and sympathetic in the meeting. According to an interview with her hometown paper, the Vacaville Reporter, Sheehan had said that although she was upset about the war, she decided not to confront the president — who clearly left a favorable impression: "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."

Of that trip, Sheehan said: "That was the gift the president gave us, the gift of happiness, of being together." In the 11 articles and columns about Sheehan that The Times had run on its news pages as of Friday, there is no hint of her previous praise for the president.
Read the whole thing.