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Did the Cindy Sheehan vigil succeed?

Did the Cindy Sheehan vigil succeed?

By Linda Feldmann | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

WASHINGTON – Cindy Sheehan's month of fame - or infamy, depending on one's vantage point - is drawing to a close. The grieving mother of a US soldier slain in Iraq will end her vigil at the president's ranch on Wednesday, almost certainly having failed in her stated goal of a face-to-face meeting with Mr. Bush.

If nothing else, the spectacle she launched added an American point of focus to the larger tableau of bad news for the US effort in Iraq, dominated by a US military death toll approaching the symbolically significant 2,000-person mark, and faltering Iraqi efforts to draft a broadly acceptable constitution.

For Bush, there's bad political news as well: a Gallup poll, released last Friday, showing the lowest job-approval rating (40 percent) of his presidency. Even among Republicans, support for Bush has hit an all-time low - albeit a still-high 82 percent. But overall, only 34 percent of Americans are satisfied with how things are going in this country, another low for Bush's 4-1/2 years in office, Gallup reports.

Ms. Sheehan's role in Bush's sagging numbers remains a matter of conjecture; skyrocketing gasoline prices cannot have helped. But Sheehan's galvanizing effect on both opponents and supporters of the Iraq war is beyond doubt, analysts say. Whether her vigil will prove to have been an irreversible turning point in antiwar efforts - and whether that movement can develop in a way that speaks broadly to many Americans, not just the fringes - probably depends on what happens in coming months.

To some observers, the Aug. 17 candlelight vigils organized by in some 1,600 cities to support Sheehan represented a new level of public engagement among those critical of the Iraq war.

"The vigils were something we hadn't seen in quite some time. It was a turning point, I think," says Todd Gitlin, a professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University, noting large turnouts in cities like Salt Lake City, not just Democratic strongholds. "Something was afoot in its mainstreamness."

But, Professor Gitlin adds, as a turning point, "it's reversible." Sheehan could lose the initiative, as other candidates for antiwar spokesman jockey for the limelight. Media imagery will be crucial. An important test of the future will come in September, when the nation's capital plays host to what is evolving into dueling rallies.

First, on Sept. 11, the Pentagon is sponsoring an event called the Freedom Walk, to honor the victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks and show support for the US military with a walk from the Pentagon to the Mall. Organizers hope to create a national movement in future years, with walks around the country to commemorate 9/11. Critics see the event as an attempt to boost support for the Iraq war. Recently, the Washington Post withdrew its co-sponsorship of the event, citing the potential that it could become politicized.

Then, from Sept. 24 to 26, antiwar groups are organizing three days of events here in Washington, starting with a march and rally and culminating in what their website calls "mass nonviolent direction action and civil disobedience." Immediate withdrawal from Iraq is just one part of the agenda, which includes a call for "global justice" and protection of immigrants' rights and basic civil rights.

Whether the Sept. 24-26 rally attracts a large mainstream turnout could have a dramatic impact on the future of antiwar activism - and how politicians of both parties respond. A central demand of the protest - immediate US withdrawal from Iraq - does not reflect the majority view of Americans, analysts note. Polls show about one-third of Americans hold that position.

For now, though, the two rallies have become focal points for Iraq war supporters and opponents, almost as a self-imposed litmus test for which side has the more popular position. The battle appears to be almost an extension of the dueling rallies held outside the president's Crawford, Texas, ranch on Saturday - a reflection of how the Sheehan vigil has also galvanized supporters of the Iraq war.

The future role of Sheehan herself in the antiwar movement appears to be at a crossroad. On Friday she said she would take part in the first two days of a national antiwar bus tour, but then leave to fulfill prior speaking engagements.

"She has to be careful that she doesn't become her own road show, in which she becomes someone who goes around the country as an extraordinary person, in some ways," says Alexander Bloom, a professor at Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., who specializes in the history of antiwar protests.

But, say activists sympathetic to her cause, the bottom line is that Sheehan succeeded in personalizing opposition to the war.

"Her reality was, so to speak, a crowbar to open the lid on what had been sealed, which is the human dimension," says Norman Solomon, executive director of the liberal Institute for Public Accuracy. "The media and politics don't engage with death very well. And Bush has been effective until this summer at keeping US victims of this war in a hazy middle distance, close enough to exploit as a photo-op prop but not up close and personal enough to begin to deal with the grief of war."

Regardless of the fact that Sheehan did not get a face-to-face audience with Bush, she clearly got his attention. At his speech to a National Guard audience in Idaho on Wednesday, Bush singled out the mother of five sons, all of whom - in addition to her husband - are either serving in Iraq or have returned. She presented a pointed antidote to the mother from Vacaville, Calif., who filled space in the annual August media void in Crawford, Texas, and gave the president's vacation a bit more of a plot line than usual.


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What a question! Who could possibly doubt it.

And, of all the signs of impending victory, the surest must certainly be the rising good humor amongst supporters of the true "noble cause" of peace. Just look around. It's readily apparent on this site and elsewhere.

A movement that, only a short time ago, could only be described as dismayed and morose has not only found its undeniable voice, it now dares to deal with its frantic and desparate opponents with good grace, good humor and even some pity.

To quote Winston Churchill: "This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

Yes, many people now are emerging from the Powers that Be's carefully constructed matrix of lies and control, and are breathing in a fresh, new zeitgeist.

Such leaps in awareness are necessary for humankind to progress.

As a great line from an Aussie song goes...

"We're not going to sit in silence, we're not going to live in fear...You're the voice, try and understand it !"

The Creator protects the righteous.

Calling George Bush who got the BTC PIPELINE GOING on with TAPS PIPELINE in Afghanistan.......don't forget to add a little democracy into the mix so that the Americans don't find out WHY they really invaded Afghanistan. Can't build pipelines in a HOLLY country without our US Military in there. Why are ALL military bases in AFGHANISTAN and IRAQ along the oil pipelines and export ports? Why are these soldiers patrolling these pipelines?

Baku-Ceyhan Pipeline Opens to Caspian Oil
05-26-2005 Reuters By Lada Yevgrashina - Oil started on Wednesday to flow into a U.S.-backed pipeline which will carry Caspian oil to the West and loosen Russia's stranglehold on exports from the region. The pipeline, built by a multinational consortium led by British oil giant BP, will eventually pump more than 1 million barrels per day from Azerbaijan along a circuitous route through Georgia to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan in Turkey. The venture is helping to redraw the geopolitical map of the turbulent Caucasus, reducing the region's economic reliance on Moscow, and will also give emerging oil giant Kazakhstan an outlet to Western markets that bypasses Russia. Oil experts say the landlocked Caspian Sea contains oil riches to rival those of the North Sea, but others say it may never fulfill its promise. "With the start-up of this oil pipeline, the economy of Azerbaijan makes a serious step forward," said President Ilham Aliyev at a launching ceremony for the pipeline. Also attending the ceremony were President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia, Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, all of whose countries stand to gain handsomely from the new pipeline. U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman, who stood alongside the four heads of state at the ceremony, said: "The Baku-Ceyhan pipeline will play a huge role in world energy policy." It will take until the fall before oil can be loaded onto tankers at the Mediterranean end of Ceyhan because BP needs several months to fill up the 1,760-kilometer pipeline. Kazakhstan, the largest oil producer in the region after Russia, is likely to start pumping oil through the pipeline at a later date by shipping it from its Caspian port of Aktau to Baku by tankers. In the opening ceremony, Aliyev explicitly recognized Washington's crucial role in championing the $4 billion pipeline in the face of opposition from Moscow. "The realization of this project would not have been possible without constant political support from the United States," he said. Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, completion of the pipeline had taken on increased importance as U.S. concerns deepened over dependence on Middle Eastern oil. The launch of the pipeline is one more step diminishing Russia's waning influence in a region which was firmly under its thumb in the heyday of the Soviet Union. "The implications for Russia are a further loss of influence in Azerbaijan and potentially in Georgia too," said Julian Lee, an analyst at the Centre for Global Energy Studies in London. Azerbaijan, which currently produces more than 350,000 bpd, plans to raise output to more than 1 million bpd by the end of the decade. The start-up of the pipeline gives a boost to Aliyev, who is facing a tricky parliamentary election in November in a turbulent region that has seen several longstanding regimes toppled in popular revolts over the past 18 months. Georgia's impoverished economy also stands to get a boost from the pipeline and is expected to earn some $50 million in transit fees per year.

Don't you realize that any correspondence between U.S. military actions and the aims of U.S. corporate interests are purely coincidental.

It just happens sometimes, like the "liberation" of Guatemala. Surely you don't believe that had anything to do with the benefits that fell by pure coincidence into the hands of the United Fruit Company.

they keep blowing up the pipelines in IRAQ. I wonder why they are blowing these pipelines up?

Is by voting the republicans out of congress in "06". Then and only then can we impeach the spinless, arrogant awol goon in the White House.

Unfortunately, we have no choice but Democrats. In my mind, their perfromance has been sorrier than that of the Republicans. It's a good time for a third party to make some headway.

Did the Cindy Sheehan vigil succeed? My vote would be, "YES."

Is this like the first three questions on "Who wants to be a Millionaire???" ;-)

Next question, "Who is buried in Grant's tomb?"

Uhm, may have to use my "lifeline" on that one . . .

"Stacey's (Casey's) mom has got it going on."
- Stacey's Mom by Fountain's of Wayne


I think Cindy has ruined poor old GW's vacation.He just wanted to get a little R&R at the Chickenhawk Ranch and she just nagged him the whole time.Bad news from all sides.The Iraqis keep blowing up the pipelines,they keep getting in the way of progress.Ya just cant pillage and plunder a country the way you used too.Ahhh the good old days.The Republicans seem to be waking up too.Bad news if they do.If they figure out that they put in office a TRAIDOR its liable to piss them off.Damn Dems keep bringing it up.Anyway I think Cindys lil stay in the ditch was a COMPLETE SUCCESS if your trying to show the american people that they have a spinless,inept.deceitful wimp for a president.Theres always next year George if your not in jail by then.

Now, about those low approval ratings:

"For Bush, there's bad political news as well: a Gallup poll, released last Friday, showing the lowest job-approval rating (40 percent) of his presidency."

My cousin and I always laugh and say about the polls: if the pollsters and media say GW's poll numbers are, let's say, at only 40% approval, that means they are probably as low as, if not lower, than 25 or 30% <:).

And yes, Cindy stand at Crawford, in my opinion, a resounding success. Cindy, you rock!

Georgia in Detroit

Why would Bush care about his political rating? He's in his second term!

He doesn't, that is why he doesn't give Cindy the time of day. And rightfully so...Waste of time.

All this sit in did was verify how divided this country is! When will people realize that the world is not as simple as "I am a Democrat", and "I am a Republican", and "I am conservative", and "I am liberal". "I am pro war." "I am anti-war." Think for yourselves people! Political parties rob you of your independent thought. You think as a mob. If you should gain anyting from this you should go and tear up your political party membership card and verify that you are independent, and can take many different stances on many different issues. The real enemies are those who run the political parties. They are the ones that recruit for political parties in your local towns. Be smart, stay independent!

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