Chuck Woods vs. Cindy Sheehan: Whom Does Media Give ‘Absolute Moral Authority’?
The grieving father's tribute to honor has received attention from exactly one network, while Sheehan was ubiquitous.
November 2, 2012 - 9:34 am
Remember Cindy Sheehan?
You know, the grieving mother who camped out at George Bush’s ranch demanding to see the president — for a second time — so she could express her unhappiness about the war in Iraq that killed her son? The woman who inspired the media to more madness than usual in support of a leftist cause? The woman who Pulitzer-winning doyenne of cheap Beltway gossip Maureen Dowd wrote at the time had “absolute moral authority”?
Cindy Sheehan, a 48-year-old Californian with a knack for P.R., says she will camp out in the dusty heat near the ranch until she gets to tell Mr. Bush face to face that he must pull all U.S. troops out of Iraq. Her son, Casey, a 24-year-old Army specialist, was killed in a Sadr City ambush last year.
The president met with her family two months after Casey’s death. Capturing W.’s awkwardness in traversing the line between somber and joking, and his love of generic labels, Ms. Sheehan said that W. had referred to her as “Mom” throughout the meeting, and given her the sense that he did not know who her son was.
It’s hard to think of another president who lived in such meta-insulation. His rigidly controlled environment allows no chance encounters with anyone who disagrees. He never has to defend himself to anyone, and that is cognitively injurious. He’s a populist who never meets people — an ordinary guy who clears brush, and brush is the only thing he talks to. Mr. Bush hails Texas as a place where he can return to his roots. But is he mixing it up there with anyone besides Vulcans, Pioneers and Rangers?
W.’s idea of consolation was to dispatch Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser, to talk to Ms. Sheehan, underscoring the inhumane humanitarianism of his foreign policy. Mr. Hadley is just a suit, one of the hard-line Unsweet Neo Cons who helped hype America into this war.
His humanitarianism will remain inhumane as long as he fails to understand that the moral authority of parents who bury children killed in Iraq is absolute.
Wasn’t that awful? What kind of uncaring and aloof president wouldn’t know each and every soldier killed in a war? What kind of monster wouldn’t go out and console her … a second time?
It was particularly awful because Sheehan made her plea in such a gentle and civil manner:
It has been seven months since your ignorant and arrogant lack of planning for the peace murdered my oldest child. You think that you have some mandate from God, and that you can spend your political capital however you want.
In 2000 when you stole that election, the Democrats gave up, and I gave up, too.
All of this lying, fooling and betraying must be hard work.
Putting a political stake in your black heart will be the fulfillment of my life and bring justice for my dead son.
You and your minions disgust me. Have a nice day.
It wasn’t just MoDo who went gaga over Cindy. Reporters from every network were tripping over themselves and each other in Crawford to stick mics and cameras in their heroine’s face. As Brent Baker noted in August of 2005:
Before and after Cindy Sheehan’s announcement Thursday that she was leaving Crawford to attend to her ill mother, the networks celebrated her supposed achievements and hoped they’d re-invigorate the anti-war movement. “Did just one grieving mother spark the beginnings of an anti-war movement? We’ll give you the ‘Inside Story,’” CBS anchor John Roberts promised before Wyatt Andrews trumpeted: “Her movement seemed to catch fire Wednesday night as tens of thousands of people in more than a thousand places attended vigils in support.” He insisted that it’s “very clear Cindy Sheehan has tapped the public’s frustration.” ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas saw “a campaign born of sadness and resolution.” Thursday morning, ABC’s Charlie Gibson championed: “All across the country protests against the war in Iraq, inspired by the mother standing her ground at President Bush’s ranch.” On screen, GMA put “MOM ON A MISSION: IS ANTIWAR MOVEMENT GROWING?” George Stephanopoulos claimed “a lot of Republicans would say” that “this is the president’s swift boat moment.”
Now, compare and contrast to someone that many have never heard of: Chuck Woods, bereaved father of Tyrone Woods, one of the SEALS killed in Benghazi a couple months ago.
George Bush wasn’t watching live in Iraq when Casey Sheehan was killed by a mine, but Barack Obama was reportedly in the White House Situation Room (though unlike his response to Hurricane Sandy, there are no pictures) while Chuck’s son was under attack by jihadists that the White House has been pretending are “on the run,” and requesting help from his superiors.
And if George Bush’s response to Cindy Sheehan when they met may have seemed diffident (at least to her), when the president met with Mr. Woods, he was positively cold:
Sean Hannity: And so, you felt he couldn’t look you in the eye and that basically he felt no empathy and you said the same thing pretty much about Hillary Clinton?
Chuck Woods: Right. What happened was he came through there kind of after everyone else had been, you know, in the room circulating and he came over and shook my hand, you know, I wanted to do more than just shake his hand, so I kind of put my arm around his shoulder to have just a little bit of physical warmth, not a major hug but just a small one. And, you know, he kind of — it wasn’t in a powerful voice it was more of just a whiney little voice I’m sorry. You know, and I could tell by his voice he wasn’t even sorry.
It would be like a little kid that is told by the teacher to go apologize to Johnny out on the playground, and when looked at me his face was pointed towards me but he couldn’t look me in the eye. He was looking over my shoulder and like I say, I thought, you know, political — literally like shaking hands with a dead fish. I did not believe him at all as far as his being sorry and now we understand why.
Was he one of those cowards that was in the White House watching my son being murdered on TV and refusing to do anything? That is a question that he will probably not have the courage to answer publicly but I would like to personally know that answer and one of these days, the whole I’m sure that we will have that answer.
And the secretary of State was actually duplicitous (and insulting to his intelligence) when she tried to maintain the false narrative that it was a result of an overly rambunctious movie review:
He said … Clinton assured him that they were going to “arrest and prosecute” the man that made the scapegoated YouTube video critical of Islam.
Compare as well his response to Ms. Sheehan’s. While calling the administration “cowards” is intemperate, it’s certainly understandable under the circumstances. But try to imagine Cindy Sheehan saying anything like this:
Despite the nature of his concerns, Woods then proceeded to reject the notion that there was any bitterness in his queries.
“First of all, I am not angry at all,” Woods said. “In fact, Mr. President, if I had the opportunity of speaking to you face to face, and I would really love to, I would say this: ‘Mr. President, I respect your office. However, if you are responsible for the death of my son, I totally forgive you.’”
“This is about honor, courage and about love for America,” Woods added. “And remember this, Mr. President: my son and the others died heroes and it’s better to die the death of a hero than it is to live the life of a coward. If you are responsible for the death of my son, I forgive you, I love you. I also love America.”
What? Nothing about putting a stake through the president’s “black heart”?
Perhaps it’s the lack of that kind of red meat that has somehow made the same media that adulated Cindy Sheehan seemingly allergic to Chuck Woods. Or maybe it’s because he’s unhappy with a president that they love, rather than despise.
Whatever the reason, he is an invisible man. When one does a search for “Chuck Woods Benghazi,” the only links that come up are to Fox News, or links to other places that link to Fox News. ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, and the rest of the alphabet soup are conspicuous by their absence (though interestingly, the current top link is a Slate story by Dave Weigel asking if “conservatives” will be able to “Swift Boat” Obama over the issue).
Maybe if he really wants to get the nation’s attention, Mr. Woods will have to take a page from Cindy Sheehan’s book, and perhaps chain himself to the White House fence. I’d bet that, plus a mass rally by the Tea Party in Lafayette Square to support him, might force the other networks to finally take note of someone who has even more “absolute moral authority” than their erstwhile heroine and speaker of “truth” to power.