Maureen Dowd is back

Boy, is she ever back! She can drive me crazy sometimes, and I have complained about her oh-so-cutesy snark many a time. But today she’s in fine form.

What the hell, here’s a healthy chunk.

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 American troops out of Iraq. Her son, Casey, a 24-year-old Army specialist, was killed in an ambush in Sadr City 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.

The Bush team tried to discredit “Mom” by pointing reporters to an old article in which she sounded kinder to W. If only her husband were an undercover C.I.A. operative, the Bushies could out him. But even if they send out a squad of Swift Boat Moms for Truth, there will be a countering Falluja Moms for Truth.

It’s amazing that the White House does not have the elementary shrewdness to have Mr. Bush simply walk down the driveway and hear the woman out, or invite her in for a cup of tea. But W., who has spent nearly 20 percent of his presidency at his ranch, is burrowed into his five-week vacation and two-hour daily workouts. He may be in great shape, but Iraq sure isn’t.

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.

It’s getting harder for the president to hide from the human consequences of his actions and to control human sentiment about the war by pulling a curtain over the 1,835 troops killed in Iraq; the more than 13,000 wounded, many shorn of limbs; and the number of slain Iraqi civilians – perhaps 25,000, or perhaps double or triple that. More people with impeccable credentials are coming forward to serve as a countervailing moral authority to challenge Mr. Bush.

Paul Hackett, a Marine major who served in Iraq and criticized the president on his conduct of the war, narrowly lost last week when he ran for Congress as a Democrat in a Republican stronghold in Cincinnati. Newt Gingrich warned that the race should “serve as a wake-up call to Republicans” about 2006.

Selectively humane, Mr. Bush justified his Iraq war by stressing the 9/11 losses. He emphasized the humanity of the Iraqis who desire freedom when his W.M.D. rationale vaporized.

But 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.

And please, don’t attack Dowd on a personal level; I’ve done that enough in the past, when warranted. What about the points she is making about our he-man wartime president? About the sanctity of the lives of our soldiers? (Infinitely more important than that sanctimonious crap about “the “sanctity of marriage,” whatever the F that means). What do you think about swift-boating the mother of a young man slain in Iraq, dying for his country (or so he believed)? Is this the real face of compassionate conservatism? Is this acceptable behavior from our highest leaders?

The Discussion: 8 Comments

“Compassionate Conservatism” is the biggest crock of shit in American political history. Real conservatism is infintely more “compassionate” than Neo-Conservatism, the true religion of the Bush Cabal and its supporters. Bush doesn’t give a crap about the soldiers. They’re just over there to do his bidding. And he’s proving quite clearly that he doesn’t care about those who have lost their sons and daughters by outright refusing to meet with this lady. Maureen Dowd was right on the money here.

August 9, 2005 @ 11:14 pm | Comment

Thank you, Sunking.

August 9, 2005 @ 11:21 pm | Comment

Can I just point one thing out – W. is the President of the USA. Even if he’s working out at the ranch, the man is running the world’s biggest country. Sure it would be good PR and media management for him to meet this woman. And the next one that follows her lead. And the one after that. But how many of us deliberately go towards someone we know will be hostile towards us, let alone a politician who knows it will likely be spun to make him look bad no matter what. Sending the National Security Advisor is a pretty good gesture, even if you consider him another neo-con suit. He’s also a man that spends a lot of time with the Prez talking about things like Iraq and terror.

Personally I’d rather W concertrate on more mundane things like running the country than induldging an obvious publicity trap.

August 10, 2005 @ 2:08 am | Comment

Thank you Simon. I wish he’d concentrate on running the country too. Well said.

If he met with one, it would be a smart gesture. Obviously he can’t meet with everyone. But the real story here is the instant campaign to villify the woman and portray her as some kind of lying hypocrite. This story had been out for a week and I never blogged it until they swift-boated her. That is incredibly unseemly to do to the mother of a soldier who just lost his life fighting for his country, even it it was in an illegal war. And you see, Simon, that is the kind of thing the Bush people focus on, the smearing of any and all critics as un-American or hypocrites are loons. Imagine if his staff focused on real issues instead of smear campaigns, which have become the hallmark of this administration.

August 10, 2005 @ 8:35 am | Comment

No, Bush shouldn’t see her. He shouldn’t have sent Hadley either. Anyone who uses their son in this disrespectful way deserves no attention.

August 10, 2005 @ 8:49 am | Comment

See, the woman is bad. She should me marginalized and ostracized and villified.

What about the swiftboating of the mother? The Joseph Wilson-style demonization through, as always, Matt Drudge?

August 10, 2005 @ 9:00 am | Comment

It looks like anyone can comment here, as long as they tell richard what he wants to hear, and does not introduce any inconvienent facts.

August 10, 2005 @ 10:59 am | Comment

Everyone is free to comment here and express his or her opinions. Comments will never be deleted because of your point of view, as you can see from Simon’s comment above. The only time comments will ever be deleted is when it is blatantly obvious the commenter is here to taunt and snipe, either at the site owner or other commenters. Thank you for visting The Peking Duck and your comment is appreciated.

August 10, 2005 @ 11:04 am | Comment

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