Sunday, August 14, 2005

And More From Crawford...

Cindy Sheehan's Peaceful Occupation of Crawford, Texas is on its 9th day and her support and profile in the media continue to grow. From her daily update from Saturday, Aug. 13:
It was a busy morning of interviews and problem solving. I had interviews with some network shows and a photo shoot for the Vanity Fair article. Almost all of the reporters ask me if I have accomplished anything at Camp Casey and I think we really have. We have brought the war onto the front pages of the newspapers and the top stories of the mainstream media. It is really incredible that we are doing so well in the media because I keep telling all of the reporters that I am doing their jobs. I am asking the tough questions of the President that they don't ask.

Very true. Even now, the media doesn't really know what to do with her. She's being embraced as a public interest story on one hand and being covered as a political story on the other but sometimes the merging of the two makes journalists uncomfortable. On no fewer than four news programs in the past 2 days, I've heard Cindy Sheehan referred to as "that woman" or "this woman" before they talk about her more in depth, as though she's something foreign, unknowable and even worse, dismissable. But she will not be dismissed. More from Cindy:
We had a rally downtown in Crawford. Then the people caravanned up to Camp Casey. I was told to come down to the point of the triangle to greet them. While I was walking down to the point, I had a great view of Prairie Chapel Road. There was car, after car, after car!!! I started sobbing and I felt like collapsing. The cars kept on coming. It took almost a full hour for them to all get to Camp Casey, it was a miraculous sight to see. It was identical to Field of Dreams.People came from all over the country to be here. We are building a movement and they are coming...Today was George Bush's accountability moment, and he lost. Two young ladies from San Diego drove all night to get to the rally and they had to leave tonight to get back home. One of them said: "Wow, we can drive all the way from San Diego just to meet you and he can't even come down to the end of his driveway to meet with you."

So what exactly is Cindy Sheehan accomplishing in Crawford? It's clear that the president doesn't intend to meet with her. And after all, even as her story is embraced by the mainstream media, her personal beliefs and goals, specifically that we pull out of Iraq now, are still well to the left of center.

Jeffrey Feldman, a blogger who focuses on framing, or how words and images frame an issue in a certain way in our minds, has some pretty interesting thoughts on the big picture ramifications of Sheehan's protest. First of all he asserts that her success at capturing all the attention she's gotten has to do with how she is framed by the media: as a grieving mother. Google "grieving mother" and you get story after story about Cindy Sheehan's protest in Crawford. It is the fact that she is a grieving mother that is launching her onto the covers of People Magazine and Vanity Fair, and hitting home with people emotionally. As Feldman says:
In broad terms, the success of the 'grieving mom' phrase indicates that Americans are now thinking about the War in Iraq through the frame of the family, rather than thinking about Iraq through the frame of 'terrorism' or 'ideology.'

Those who follow political framing know that a common theory is that progressives and conservatives hold two differing worldviews that inform how they vote, each of which frames the world in terms of a family: progressives want their president to be a nurturant parent and conservatives want their president to be a strict father. In Bush's re-election campaign last year, Rove exploited people's post-9/11 desire for a strict father in order to win. Whereas before, war was a positive aspect of the strict father frame, here, Sheehan, the grieving mother, is accusing the father of sending our children off to die. Thanks to Sheehan, the world as family model is now biting Bush in the ass. But Feldman takes it even a step further:
The implications of this shift from 'terrorism' to family' in the country's thinking about Iraq are profound. Not only does this shift forewarn a political tidal wave soon to break on the President's foreign policy, but also of a much deeper, tectonic shift in the strategy beneath all the recent gains in the Republican party.

The great success of Cindy Sheehan's protest, therefore, is no less than the moral authority for the Democratic Party to speak for the American family.

In other words, Sheehan may be undermining not only the Republicans' political stranglehold on the "national defense" issue, but also the "family values" issue that Republicans have exploited so successfully for gains in recent years. Whether pie in the sky optimism or a real actionable game plan for Democrats, at the very least, Feldman's theory is saying there is vulnerability there on the Republican side that Democrats would do well to jump on. Let's hope they do so and fast.


Blogger Marie said...

Thank you for supporting Cindy!

5:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still waiting for you to come out and play Todd ...

But while you hang back in your little, insular, self-reinforcing world, Here's a story that visitors to your blog might want to read. I'd suggest you read it too, except you'd just dismiss it as the "Conservative Media" in action ...

Still waiting. You have the link. TicTock ... TicTock ... TicTock.

3:53 PM  
Blogger TWB said...

I'll read it tonight. It doesn't surprise me in the least that a. Bush has met with families and b. that he is emotional about it and c. that Newsweek would publish an article saying as much, something a publication biased against the president probably wouldn't publish, eh? have I ever written that Bush doesn't mourn the deaths of soldiers? can you find me a quote? I've read conflicting reports but I've never taken a stance either way. it saddens me that Cindy and the other mother who was on O'Reilly after meeting with Bush concluded that he has no conscience about the war and about the deaths. I hope that isn't true.

I'm not hiding from you. I'll respond when I'm good and ready there sparky.

5:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm ... interesting. Todd posts all sorts of stuff about Cindy Sheehan, but such doesn't constitute an endorsement of her views or actions?

How incredibly lawyerly of you. You ever think that you might be in the wrong profession?

IIRC, you used the same tactic last year when you put up that article about how those lost Marines really constituted an attempt to send tanks into the streets to put down dissent. At best, striving to attain such plausable deniability, allowing yourself an "out" once you're called on something you've put up, is disingenous. At worst its cowardly.

I appreciate, tho, your agreement to come out to Tank-Net and peddle your views (once you are "good and ready", of course) to actual combat veterans.

TicTock ... TicTock ... TicTock ...

6:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, Todd, you still paying attention to this post?

I have to wonder why you haven't bothered to post the following. Seems your gal Cindy was opposed to the US going into Afghanistan as well:

MATTHEWS: All right. If your son had been killed in Afghanistan, would you have a different feeling?

SHEEHAN: I don't think so, Chris, because I believe that Afghanistan is almost the same thing. We're fighting terrorism. Or terrorists, we're saying. But they're not contained in a country. This is an ideology and not an enemy. And we know that Iraq, Iraq had no terrorism. They were no threat to the United States of America.

MATTHEWS: But Afghanistan was harboring, the Taliban was harboring al-Qaida which is the group that attacked us on 9/11.

SHEEHAN: Well then we should have gone after al-Qaida and maybe not after the country of Afghanistan."

I'd really like to know whether you agree with these comments. And I'm still waiting, btw. TicTock ... TicTock ... TicTock.

7:03 AM  

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