I have complained before about a certain fractiousness and disconnection amid the various major arms and voices of the progressive movement. It often seems as if there is a latent competition among the largest and most well-heeled of these organizations to be seen as the Leader of the Progressive Movement. Maybe it's just lousy communication: they certainly don't seem to plan anything together; you can't find a plain old Links page on any of their sites; and there's no visible coordination among the various competitors for the palm of Progressive Leader.
Well, here's my vote for the moment: Cindy Sheehan, the Mom of Casey Sheehan, an American soldier killed in Iraq last year. Ms. Sheehan has drawn a little attention to 8-handicap Flash and his insane war by camping outside the stick man's Texas ranch until she can get a personal audience with the Prince of Petroleum. Good way to ruin a man's vacation.
What is her demand? That the American troops be brought home immediately, in memory of her son's sacrifice and those of the other 1,832 GIs that have died for a rancid pile of lies. In fact, one of the more eloquent statements on this war has been written by Ms. Sheehan, and it's all of 8 paragraphs long and will take you about five minutes to read—take a look at it now (just scroll to about the middle of the page and read "A Lie of Historic Proportions").
Quite a mess you're in now, Dubya: whatcha gonna do now, Flash? This is one of those things that happen when you demand that people die so that you and your friends can reap bigger profits and give one another shiny medals and worshipful praise. You get some Moms and Dads really, really angry. And these Moms and Dads tend not to have any more scruples left for appearances or self-consciousness. In fact, they don't care how they look on TV or what people think about them, because the brightest glow in their lives is now gone—taken from them by your mindless arrogance, Flash.
Let's give the rest of this entry's stage back to Ms. Cindy Sheehan: this is from her account of a meeting she had with the President last year, only two months after her son's death.
"His mouth kept moving," Sheehan later recalled of her meeting with Bush, "but there was nothing in his eyes or anything else about him that showed me he really cared or had any real compassion at all. This is a human being totally disconnected from humanity and reality. His eyes were empty, hollow shells." Bush called her "Ma" or "Mom" throughout the whole meeting, and never got around to learning her name.
"The whole meeting was simply bizarre and disgusting," Sheehan said later. "designed to intimidate instead of providing compassion. He didn't even know our names. I just couldn't believe this was happening. It was so surreal and bizarre. Later I met with some of the other fifteen or sixteen families who were at the White House the same day and, sure enough, they all felt the same way I did."
"Casey was told that he would be welcomed to Iraq as a liberator with chocolates and rose petals strewn in front of his unarmored Humvee" Sheehan wrote in February. "He was in Iraq for two short weeks when the Shi'ite rebel 'welcome wagon' welcomed him to Baghdad with bullets and RPG's, which took his young and beautiful life. Casey was killed after George Bush proclaimed 'Mission Accomplished' on May 1, 2003. Hundreds of our young people and thousands of Iraqis have been needlessly and senselessly murdered since George Bush triumphantly announced an end to 'major combat' almost 2 years ago now. All of the above events have been heralded by this administration as 'turning points' in the 'war on terror' - or as wonderful events in the 'march of democracy.'"
"I believed before our leaders invaded Iraq in March, 2003," said Sheehan in her testimony, "and I am even more convinced now, that this aggression on Iraq was based on a lie of historic proportions and was blatantly unnecessary. The so-called Downing Street Memo dated 23 July, 2003, only confirms what I already suspected: the leadership of this country rushed us into an illegal invasion of another sovereign country on prefabricated and cherry picked intelligence. It appears that my boy Casey was given a death sentence even before he joined the Army in May of 2000."
So, is my nomination seconded? Cindy Sheehan, you are the leader of the progressive movement. I know you didn't mean to be, and would give up all the TV time and the appearances before Congress just to be back home with your son in blissful anonymity. But since it's happened this way, let us follow you.