09 August 2005

What one person can do

Cindy Sheehan has been camping out near Bush's ranch near Crawford, Texas, and says she will stay until Bush agrees to meet with her. She is planning to tell him to withdraw American troops from Iraq now. This is becoming a big problem for Bush, in a way that a large group of protesters wouldn't. It's easy to dismiss a group of people with a broad brush, saying "they're just a bunch of damn liberals" or "they're all rednecks — waddya expect?"

But one person gets seen as an individual, with a story, and Cindy Sheehan's son died in Bush's war. He met with her in 2004, as he does with the parents of many dead Americans:
Mr. Bush... acted as if he were at a party and behaved disrespectfully toward her by referring to her as "Mom" throughout the meeting.

By Ms. Sheehan's account, Mr. Bush said to her that he could not imagine losing a loved one like an aunt or uncle or cousin. Ms. Sheehan said she broke in and told Mr. Bush that Casey was her son, and that she thought he could imagine what it would be like since he has two daughters and that he should think about what it would be like sending them off to war.

"I said, 'Trust me, you don't want to go there'," Ms. Sheehan said, recounting her exchange with the president. "He said, 'You're right, I don't.' I said, 'Well, thanks for putting me there.' "
Bush may be forced into making a decision on dealing with her by Friday, when he will likely have to drive past her tent.

The image of a lone woman, mother of a dead veteran, standing at the side of the road while an uncaring president drives by would make for a compelling television image. And if Bush is to meet her, he'll want to control that meeting. It's my guess that he'll invite her to the ranch before Friday. The spectacle then will be of Scott McLellan furiously spinning, while a mother grieves for her son and laments her failure to prevent other children dying in Bush's war.

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