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Decency Is Not In Them
From the Cunning Realist on August 12, 2005
A lifelong conservative with a strong independent streak, I am a late-30's resident of New York City and an executive in the financial industry. I have a B.A., and an M.B.A. in International Business from Columbia University.
Even when something really outrages me, usually that outrage gives way to a bit of calm, measured thinking. With the Cindy Sheehan story, that's not the case.
If one needed any further proof that this incarnation of "Republicans" and alleged conservatives includes a faction that has gone completely and tragically over the edge, the smear campaign against Cindy Sheehan is it. For those who might not be familiar with the details of this and are looking for an accurate, factual account, a good summary appears here.
The essence of the right-wing smear machine's "outing" of Cindy Sheehan is her supposed flip-flop from supporting President Bush in 2004 to disapproving of him in 2005. As details of this have become clearer, it's obvious the flip-flop is nothing more than a canard. But setting aside the Sheehan story for a moment, have any of the shameless smearsters seen the public opinion polls recently? Here's some breaking news for them: a whole lot of Americans who supported Bush a year ago---including an increasingly large part of his "base"---have turned against him. And that includes many millions of people who haven't lost a parent, child, or sibling in Iraq.
There are so many side issues of shamelessness and crass opportunism in this story it makes my head spin. Think about the gall of a political and media machine "accusing" a private citizen of changing her mind (imagine that!) about an elected and supposedly accountable public official. When did a private citizen supposedly changing her opinion about something rise to the same level as a flip-flop about firing anyone involved in the leaking a CIA agent's name? At what point did the ability to change one's mind about a politician become something to be ridiculed and accused of instead of cherished as a basic right? And it's not as if in the past year we haven't learned anything about the pre-war manipulation of intelligence, as well as the incompetent planning, that resulted in the death of Cindy Sheehan's son and thousands of others like him.
Something else about this story that infuriates me is the vision of feckless, smarmy smearsters and cowards hiding behind keyboards in cities like Washington and New York (and yes, Miami), punching out electronic missives in a pathetic and desperate attempt to impugn the integrity of a woman sitting in the dust and August heat of Texas---a woman who, along with her dead son, embodies everything that's right about this country. The growing division between the professional class of spinning punditry and the vast expanse of Middle America that actually does the working, the fighting and the dying so the pundits can spend their time chattering has never been more clear than with this story.
If I had lost a parent, child or sibling in Iraq, I'd be right next to Cindy Sheehan sitting in that dust and heat. And I wouldn't budge until the president---ensconced within that reassuring bubble of faith, brush-clearing and mountain bike-riding---found a few moments to come listen to me. I hope as many people as possible join her protest and offer her food, water, and whatever legal or media assistance she may need.
In the meantime, it behooves the rest of us to do our part and engage in some "outing" of our own. That includes identifying and relentlessly shaming those who have become so unmoored from morality that not only have they abandoned the uniquely American ideals of accountability and sacrifice, they openly ridicule them.