The personal argument

Posted: Aug 21, 2005 12:00 AM

Vacaville's Cindy Sheehan, the mother of Casey Sheehan -- who died in combat in Iraq -- became a public figure when she demanded a second visit with President Bush so he could answer her questions: "Why did you kill my son? What did my son die for?" She had set up camp near the president's home, until a second tragedy -- her mother's stroke -- caused her to leave on Thursday.

  By the time that happened, Sheehan, who has made her personal situation the issue and has hurled so many personal insults at others, was complaining that the protests are "not about me," they're about the war.

  Not true. Cindy Sheehan never asked Bush to meet with other mothers of those who have died in Iraq. She has never tried to represent those mothers of slain soldiers who support the war. What's more, while many thoughtful critics of the war exist, Sheehan personifies the me-me-me focus of the antiwar movement. And that corner doesn't think.

 Note how Sheehan refuses to look at the war as anything but the spawn of President Bush. She won't acknowledge that the newly elected Iraqi government doesn't want U.S. troops to leave yet. She simply repeats the same old antiwar movement slogans: Bush lied. Bush killed her son.

 Last week, CNN's Anderson Cooper asked Sheehan how she reacted to an Internet plea by two Iraqi dentists to stop calling for immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

 Cooper read the words: "You are free to go and leave us alone, but what am I going to tell your million sisters in Iraq? Should I ask them to leave Iraq, too? Should I leave, too? And what about the 8 million who walked through bombs to practice their freedom and vote? Should they leave this land, too? Your son sacrificed his life for a very noble cause? No, he sacrificed himself for the most precious value in this existence; that is freedom," they wrote.

  Asked for her thoughts, Sheehan could only protest that she wasn't programmed to answer that question: "Well, Anderson, we're still -- we're getting away from what, what the president said when he went to Congress and asked for the authority to invade Iraq. He said (the United States needs to invade) because they had weapons of mass destruction, and he said because there was a link between Saddam (Hussein) and Al-Qaida, and those have been proven to be wrong."

 In short: Bush lied, and that's the reason America and its many allies went to war. She also opposes U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and told MSNBC's Chris Matthews, Afghanistan "is almost the same thing." Sure, except that Al-Qaida was linked to the Taliban and Osama bin Laden, who was hiding behind the Taliban in Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001. It's not even remotely the same thing.

  It feels as if the far left has come down with a case of mass amnesia. To believe this, one would have to forget that, other than Howard Dean, every major Democratic candidate running for president in 2004 -- Dennis Kucinich doesn't count as major -- voted for the resolution authorizing force in Iraq.

 Sen. John Kerry, who began his career denouncing politicians who vote for a mistake of a war, also voted for the war resolution. Like other senators who had served on the Senate Intelligence Committee, he had access to reams of information. His running mate, John Edwards, also on the Intelligence Committee, also voted for the resolution.

  What is more, potential future Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., voted for the resolution. And if she believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, it wasn't because "Bush lied."

 Her own husband, when he was president, explained that he was bombing Iraq in 1998 because "Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas or biological weapons." Bush didn't just utter the word "yellowcake" and magically the Senate was in a trance that made John Kerry and Hillary Clinton dutifully vote yes.

 They looked at the evidence, and they endured years of watching Hussein in action. They knew that he had advanced his nuclear program beyond intelligence estimates before the Persian Gulf War. They then voted for a resolution that said, in part, "in 1998, Congress concluded that Iraq's continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threatened vital United States interests and international peace and security, declared Iraq to be in 'material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations' and urged the president 'to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations'."

 That context is missing in action at Camp Casey.