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August 24, 2005

The Democrats and Cindy Sheehan


by Joshua Frank

Cindy Sheehan is exactly what we needed. Following the 2004 elections, the antiwar movement was left in shambles, unable to recover from the malfunctions of the Democratic Party. MoveOn.org had capitulated its antiwar position by supporting John pro-war Kerry. United for Peace and Justice did not organize a single rally against the Iraq occupation. Indeed, the "Anybody but Bush" epidemic had crushed whatever movement there was to begin with.

But now the war opposition is coming back to life. The floodgates are open. Bush's approval rating has taken a nose dive into the 30 percent range. George W. Bush is not a popular president. As I write, the White House PR machine is putting together a series of speeches for Bush to give over the course of the next month – where he'll be calling for more public support for the nonsensical war. Aides to the president say he'll be drawing parallels between Iraq and WWII. Apparently victory takes some time.

Well, over 1,800 U.S. troops have died in the conflict thus far. Surely thousands more will perish as the illegal occupation continues. The war's defenders are having a difficult time rationalizing their support.

As this newly invigorated opposition to the Iraq war comes to a head with media-savvy Sheehan at the helm, one would assume the Democratic Party would find its voice. What do they have to lose? Certainly not elections. And certainly not their own popularity. They have none. Even with Bush down in the polls, the Democrats are not able to capitalize. They have not added an ounce to the antiwar campaign other than a few laughable gestures concerning the Downing Street memos. Other than that, they have been completely silent. Pathetic, in fact. Save Senator Russ Feingold, who is now calling for a mediocre withdrawal plan. But even Russ' half-assed call to withdrawal troops by December 2006 is being challenged within the Democratic establishment by the liberal warmongers.

Antiwar Howard Dean, the restless chair of the DNC, says it is the responsibility of the Bush administration to come up with an exit strategy, not the Democrats. Talk about the inability to offer an alternative. What makes Dean believe Bush could ever provide any reasonable … anything? Let alone an exit policy? Dean's tangled jargon is just another case of the Democrats' inability to be a legitimate opposition party.

Sens. Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, two prominent Democrats in the race for the White House in 2008, aren't having any of Feingold either. Stay the course, they say. Whatever the hell that means. Stay the course of what? Have they forgotten that there is no goal? No plan? No course? What we do know, however, is that thousands more troops and civilians are sure to die as the U.S. continues to occupy Iraq.

Fortunately, the grassroots of the Democratic Party do not agree with Kerry and Clinton. They want the troops out of Iraq. Many claim that this rift between the party grassroots and the D.C. Democrats is a fundamental identity crisis. They see the party as having no legitimate direction. No heart. No soul. They are right.

If Democratic politicians had a soul, they'd be standing shoulder to shoulder with Sheehan's supporters at candlelight vigils across the country. But that won't be happening anytime soon. The Democrats in D.C. aren't even sure Sheehan's actions are justified. They aren't even sure that her son died for an unjust cause.

The futility of the Democrats in Washington grows graver by the day.

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  • Joshua Frank is the author of Left Out!: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, just published by Common Courage Press. You can order a copy at a discounted through Josh's blog at www.brickburner.org. He can be reached at brickburner@gmail.com.

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