Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Public Radio Visitor.

As I left work on Memorial Day, this is what I saw right outside our building, the Murrow Communications Center at WSU in Pullman.

(The brick building in the picture is Thompson Hall, directly across the street from Murrow.)

I've seen this little fellow occasionally when I arrive at work in the pre-dawn hours. Reason I think it's the same one is that he's somewhat unafraid of humans, and let me get quite close. He's not missing an ear - he'd dropped one and had been scratching it.

From now on, I shall address this little critter as Edward, for Mr. Murrow.

Battered by the Right, then the Left, Cindy Sheehan Quits.

After her son was killed in Iraq, Cindy Sheehan camped outside President Bush's home in Crawford for most of a long hot Texas summer, demanding he talk to her about son Casey's death.

Bush went out of his way to avoid her, but Sheehan's long wait in 2005 turned her one of the most prominent figures of the anti-war movement, and a frequent target for supporters of the war. Among the names they hurled at her: "attention whore."

CNN reports:

"...in a Web diary posted to the liberal online community Daily Kos on Monday, Sheehan said she was exhausted by the personal, financial and emotional toll of the past two years.

The 1,200-word letter is titled, Good Riddance Attention Whore.

Sheehan announced that her son "did indeed die for nothing."

"I have tried ever since he died to make his sacrifice meaningful," she wrote. "Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives."

Noting some numbers: 980 U.S. servicemen and women died in the last twelve months, the between Memorial Day observances of 2006 and 2007. (Source) As for American Idol, 29.5 MILLION people tuned in for the recent finale episode. (Source)

This has to be disheartening for the war's strongest opponents. Like Sheehan, many had placed their hopes in the new Democratic majority in Congress to rein in the Bush Administration. But after weeks of hot air and bluster and veto threats from Bush, the Dems obliged him and dropped a troop withdrawal timeline from the war spending bill.

Sheehan says she's not a partisan when it comes to opposing the war, and levels criticism at the left and Democrats:

"I was the darling of the so-called left as long as I limited my protests to George Bush and the Republican Party. Of course, I was slandered and libeled by the right as a "tool" of the Democratic Party. This label was to marginalize me and my message. How could a woman have an original thought, or be working outside of our "two-party" system?

"However, when I started to hold the Democratic Party to the same standards that I held the Republican Party, support for my cause started to erode and the "left" started labeling me with the same slurs that the right used. I guess no one paid attention to me when I said that the issue of peace and people dying for no reason is not a matter of "right or left", but "right and wrong."

Sheehan's right about Americans distracted by things other than the continuing sacrifice of troops and the families who struggle and worry. I really expected a lot more attention to them on this Memorial Day, but it was strangely muted. Some have argued that it's because Americans were not asked to make personal sacrificies to the war effort that has them thus disengaged.

The personal toll on Sheehan was heavy. She says "her antiwar activism had cost her her marriage, that she had put the survivor's benefits paid for her son's death and all her speaking and book fees into the cause and that she now owed extensive medical bills.

"I am going to take whatever I have left and go home," she wrote. "I am going to go home and be a mother to my surviving children and try to regain some of what I have lost."

Read the CNN report here, and Sheehan's diary entry at Daily Kos here.