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The Crawford vigil
The president should do what one grieving mother asks of him
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (New York)
(August 12, 2005) — The president should see Cindy Sheehan. He should drive out where the grieving mother of a dead American soldier is encamped, bring her a cold bottle of pop, give her the kind of hug he's given other moms and dads who have lost children to the Iraq war, and talk.
That's often all that people in mourning want to do. They don't want so much to blame or excoriate or flail in anger — though Cindy Sheehan no doubt harbors emotions of this kind — but to talk to someone they know is listening. President Bush is pretty good at listening; politicians don't get elected president twice without some skills in that area. That's what he should do for Cindy Sheehan.
Bush's advisers seem to be telling him that if he gives in to Sheehan's demands — she's said she won't budge from her spot outside the president's Crawford ranch until he speaks with her — he will show weakness and give strength to the war's opponents. In fact, his not seeing Sheehan has bolstered the anti-war movement. Hundreds have visited her at her hot-as-blazes campsite. She is quickly becoming a symbol of growing national opposition to the war. Bush, in his resistance to a meeting, is becoming a symbol of intransigence and unfeeling arrogance.
There is a precedent, actually. At the height of the Vietnam War, President Nixon went to see war protesters at the Lincoln Memorial. He didn't give in; he didn't change his views.
He just reached out a little. That's all Bush would have to do.