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Leaving Well Enough Alone


You know what I miss? Media circuses run by the media, for the media.
A bunch of guys — it’s always mostly guys ’cause they tote the cameras — standing around telling jokes, cracking wise and generally treating the spectacle as what it is: A show.
The rest of us come and go, sizing up the competition, rumor-monger, gossip, look for jobs, trade horror stories about editors or sources, or just catch up on old times. We drink too much coffee, annoy the nice folks who brought it to us and pay — happily — inflated hotel bills ’cause it was all going on Tony or Pinch or Kaye’s tab. New Hampshire during the week before the primary is a good example; or it used to be before every TV station with 10 minutes on the bird sent a blond and two heavy-set tech guys.
But these days, it seems, it is fashionable — on both sides of the political aisle — to have participatory media circuses. The idea seems to be who can out-spectacle the other side with media coverage, hangers-on, catering trucks and time on the ‘blogs, the airwaves or the papers. At the beginning of the summer, the Right had Terry Schiavo. Now, we here on the Left have Cindy Sheehan.
And I have a sinking feeling — you know, being a Democrat these days is to live with a constant sinking feeling — that the Left is screwing up. Sheehan is an impassioned defender of her point of view. She has lost a son and while a lot of others don’t think that gives her moral authority of any sort, it does. It’s foolish to argue otherwise. Cindy Sheehan is not behaving logically. She is protesting. And she has a right to do so.
But she should remain alone in her protest. Her loneliness makes her plight and her determined decision to camp in Crawford even more eloquent. Alone, Cindy Sheehan appears to be what she truly is: inconsolable. So when I read that Fenton Communication, the folks who help MoveOn, was in on the game, I got nervous. When I heard that a wealthy LA mother of my acquaintance was heading to Crawford — her kids are in camp, I guess she wants to go, too — I started to twitch.

Why? Because this is one of those occasions when the Left seems to be proving itself to be its own worst enemy. Cindy Sheehan in her goofy hat, her freckled face absent even a little make-up, is a powerful Every Mom spokesman for the anti-war cause. Even my pals on the right have acknowledged that people — some of their readers — are paying attention to what she’s saying. Cindy Sheehen’s timing is good. Her message clear. Her determination touching.
But my acquaintance from LA is going to cloud that message. She’s no Every Mom. She wouldn’t be caught dead on TV in a funny hat or without make-up. She’s going to bring her cell phone and her SPF 45 moisturizer. She’ll be toting her $1,000 Apple iBook fully loaded with $400 of iTunes, sitting in the sun in her size eight Fred Siegel jeans and bohemian gauze babydoll top — just like ’68 which she is barely old enough to remember — kibbitzing with other Lefties and the press. And she’s going to sound like what she is: A political voyeur who couldn’t pick out Cindy Sheehan’s hometown of Vacaville, CA if you gave her a Google map and free wifi.
My LA friend is sincere, that’s not the issue here. But her sincerity — just like the ferocious sincerity of those on the Right who journeyed to Florida to pray for Terri Schiavo — is misplaced.
Cindy Sheehan is now a Lefty Cause Celeb and the spectacle that’s being created around her detracts from her message, just as the religious fervor surrounding Schiavo detracted from that cause. Sheehan has a more powerful message, too. It’s not cluttered up by worries about how your life may end or whether your family will honor your final wishes. It’s the heart rending sound of a mother grieving. And if she can continue to deliver it in her clear sad voice, that message — why did my son die? — could resonate a lot further than her new-found supporters might think.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 11:18 AM | Permalink

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