Ed Driscoll

The Annual Crawford Media Spectacle

James Taranto compares to Cindy Sheehan’s Crawford media spectacle to the Crawford media spectacle last year:

There’s plenty of blame to go around for the appalling spectacle of Sheehanoia, but one name that hasn’t been mentioned is that of John Kerry. Kerry might have invented, and he certainly pioneered, the tactic being employed by those who are exploiting Cindy Sheehan to further their political agenda. As he explained to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April 1971:

“I called the media. . . . I said, ‘If I take some crippled veterans down to the White House and we chain ourselves to the gates, will we get coverage?’ ‘Oh, yes, we will cover that.’ “

Do you remember the media spectacle in Crawford, Texas, a year ago? It was precisely the crippled-vet ploy. Kerry sent triple amputee Max Cleland, who had been defeated in his 2002 Senate re-election bid, to deliver a letter to President Bush demanding that the president denounce the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. This move was stunning in its audacity, though not its effectiveness: Here was Kerry, staking his campaign on his authority as a Vietnam veteran, appealing to the authority of another Vietnam veteran in an effort to silence Vietnam veterans who opposed him.

The media love this sort of story because of its man-bites-dog nature: Vietnam veteran says fellow vets are war criminals! Sept. 11 widows blame Bush for their husbands’ deaths! Gold Star Mother says son died in vain! But isn’t the shtick getting a little old by now?

In any case, because of this man-bites-dog quality the stories are ultimately meaningless. John Kerry did not actually speak for Vietnam veterans, most of whom thought their service was honorable. The “Jersey girls” do not actually speak for Sept. 11 widows, most of whom understand that Islamist terrorists, not the president, murdered their husbands. And Cindy Sheehan does not actually speak for Gold Star Mothers, most of whom remember their children as heroes, not dupes; and hardly any of whom agree with Sheehan that “this country is not worth dying for.”

Sheehanoia is a sign of the desperation, not the strength, of the left in America. Publicity stunts are no substitute for an actual political program. Joan Walsh writes in Salon:

Even as Sheehan’s public relations victories give people reason to be optimistic about the administration’s unraveling in Iraq, liberals and war opponents have to be careful not to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Rooting for “the administration’s unraveling in Iraq”–that is, for America’s defeat in the central antiterror battleground–is not what we’d call a political program.

Unless you’re the Washington Post, of course.