If the "peace" movement holds a protest and no one in the press covers it, does it still exist? If Americans are sick of the war, they're also sick of the "antiwar." Even the media have grown antiwar-weary. Rallies on Oct. 27 drew only perfunctory news mentions.
The peaceniks have become a bipartisan political problem, now that the Democrats who control Congress haven't dared to placate the radicals by cutting off money for the troops. Cindy Sheehan is threatening to run against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But suddenly -- surprise, surprise -- the media aren't interested in Sheehan's new crusade. Crusades only have a point when it's an anti-Republican point. Camping out against Bush during his Texas vacation was news, fun news, important news. But running against Pelosi is not news. It's a sign your 15 minutes of fame are all used up.
So they're getting desperate. The radical group named "Code Pink" drew some ink by getting right in the secretary of state's face during a congressional hearing. The ugly Pink lady charged forward with blood on her hands to accuse Condi Rice of being responsible for mass killing. NBC's Matt Lauer tried to prod Rice into condemning this crude publicity stunt. To her credit, Rice simply rolled her eyes at the pink protester.
Others continue to jumpstart the '60s. A "peace" concert at the Episcopalian National Cathedral in Washington starring some retirement-age hippies, David Crosby and Graham Nash, was followed by a sympathetic tour through the liberal 24-hour news networks. These aren't Code Pink crazies, but in their own way they're equally out of sync.
On MSNBC's "Hardball," Crosby lamented how our soldiers are -- to borrow an old phrase -- poor, uneducated and easy to command types. "You know, on the one hand you've got a young kid who is patriotic, who loves his country, believes in it, and he's being told, 'Yeah this is the truth, and we've gotta go in there to protect your mother and your sister.' And he goes over, and he finds out the job is killing somebody else's mother and sister."
"Where have all the flowers gone ... ?"
Our commanders are urging the troops to fire on innocent Iraqi women and children? Chris Matthews should have been outraged. Instead, he could only manage to say, supportively, "Yeah, yeah." Crosby, perhaps hearing himself trashing the troops, tried to reel it back in: "We can't be wasting some of the best young people we have sending them over there to be killed and then killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis at the same time." They're the "best young people we have," but they slaughter innocent women and children at the drop of an officer's hat.
MSNBC is at best a wobbly-kneed "news" network when hackneyed left-wing rock stars unspool crazy talk against our troops. Here's what Matthews should have said: "Boys and girls, this is your brain on drugs." If he wasn't going to demand an apology, at least he could warn children of the danger of pharmaceuticals.
Over on CNN, reporter Carol Costello said Crosby and Nash were complaining the power of protest was ebbing because of Bush's "brainwashing." Out came the Bush the Dictator lines. Nash: "It's the administration controlling the populace." Crosby: "You can watch all of these same moves out of any other dictatorship or junta." To which Nash blurted out, "Emperor."
After hearing all this loony banter about the Bush Reich, it's amazing these men are still thrilling tie-dyed audiences with the song "Teach Your Children Well." Their political theories prove they haven't learned anything since the acid trips of the late '60s. Even these factually challenged "news" segments feel like the networks are going through the motions. Not even they are buying it.
The "peace" protesters face a real crisis here. Under the loaded rules of protest media coverage, the cameras are almost required to show up whenever 150, or 50, or four people gather on behalf of a "progressive" cause. (By contrast, conservatives can turn out 80,000 at pro-life marches and their coverage is zilch.) Leftist protests never seem like a "pseudo-event" -- an event staged solely for the cameras -- when the reporters arrive to sell breathlessly the continental shift of the American people that the protesters allegedly represent.
But the people today are sour. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have lower approval ratings than President Bush. Right now, the "peace" movement looks passe. They have no energy, and nothing original to say, and with the change in Congress, they have no more public-relations magic. They better not stand in front of a banner reading, "Mission Accomplished."