High Noon at Crawford

The current peace movement brewing in a camp a few miles from President Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, has all the trappings of a media blowout. Hundreds of well-wishers alongside satellite uplinks, truckers and angry neighbors squaring off, Secret Service blowing their SUV horns at 5:30 in the morning — all to see if one woman can have an audience with the President of the United States.

Cindy Sheehan’s struggle has made international news. Her son, Casey, was killed in combat in Iraq last year and since then she has become a vociferous opponent of American policy in the Middle East. Claiming the war was fought for Israel and the wealthy, she demands to hear straight from Bush’s mouth why our sons, daughters, wives, husbands, fathers and mothers are dying daily for a lie. And she won’t leave her camp until he does so.

Great. So, can we get back to fighting for impeachment and the restoration of our Constitutional rights instead of waiting with baited breath for something that’ll never happen?

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Cindy Sheehan is not a hero. Her “siege” on Crawford is interesting but by no means the victory some are claiming. Such efforts are ultimately fruitless.

Opposition to Bush hardly needs more evidence or motivation, and the president’s supporters aren’t likely to be swayed by a group of protesters or photo collages of dead soldiers. Those working towards a summit between Sheehan and Bush are wasting their time and patience, for that meeting will never take place.

Bush lives in his own little world, a world where lying to start a war is acceptable and defending treasonous aides is a daily occurrence. He doesn’t care about the cannon fodder he sends to die in Iraq. When asked about combat deaths in relation to the people gathering outside his vacation ranch, his understanding went no further than “the anguish that some feel about the death that takes place.”

It is this mentality that keeps your family members mired in an illegal war. It is this mentality, in spite of the increased media awareness, that assures us that Bush will never speak to a grieving mother for five minutes.

Maybe that’s the whole idea. If so, why should I cheer those responsible for highlighting yet another dichotomy in administration policy? Did they honestly think this bumbling, incoherent marblemouth would consent to an unscripted dialogue — for even a moment — with a woman who paints him as a murderer and war criminal? Or that his handlers would let him near a situation they couldn’t completely control?

Congratulations! You’ve just pointed out the obvious.

“Camp Casey” is a waste of energy. Galvanizing around Cindy Sheehan as a symbol for peace takes time and effort away from holding congressional representatives accountable for their actions; worse, it gives armchair activists the false impression that candlelight vigils in San Francisco actually do some good. Guess what — they don’t. They just give silent protestors confirmation that something’s being done, so there’s no need to join in themselves. Outstanding.

I hate to be cynical towards this genuine outpouring of support, but this showdown, whatever its intentions, is wrong. Sheehan made her case — the troops are dying for a lie — and the president doesn’t care. He’s neither going to care five weeks nor five months from now. In his attempt to lead a “balanced life,” he’s excised any niggling voices that say what he’s doing is wrong. And you know what? I accept that. Now let’s press forward.

Now is the time to lean hard on Congress to investigate the myriad criminal enterprises surrounding the Bush Administration. It’s proven fact that we are in Iraq for a lie; where are the impeachment papers? For that matter, why is Karl Rove not in prison for spitefully outing a number of CIA assets? And why is the AIPAC/Pentagon scandal not under a bigger microscope?

Midterm elections are around the corner. We should be contacting each representative and senator that voted for a war with Iraq, against returning the troops home and for continued assistance to Israel, and telling them they have lost a vote. Be loud. Make Congress know that their impotence and acquiescence is no longer tolerated. Then find someone who will actually speak for the people and give them the job.

A pipe dream? Perhaps — but no less so than putting Cindy Sheehan next to George W. Bush for a fireside chat. And it’s a hell of a lot more important, particularly since criticisms of current policy extend far beyond war in ways that strip Americans of some of our most cherished freedoms.

Henry Thoreau once said that “there are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” I like Cindy Sheehan, and think her decision to publicize her complaints against the Bush Administration is a positive one. But stating the obvious is only hacking at one branch. There’s a great deal more evil underneath the surface, and combating Bush on this one issue while ignoring others allows his group to continue fragmenting the populace.

Only when we strike the root and remove the tumor in the White House can Iraq truly be liberated from its American overseers.