One of the saddest of human events is that of a parent burying its child. By all that is fair and just, this should never happen. Yet it happens all the time. In particular, it happened to Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed serving in the Iraq War in 2004. She has since become one of the nation’s most prominent antiwar activists, camping outside President Bush’s home in Crawford, Texas in 2005, demanding a meeting with Bush to discuss Casey’s death.

Bush had already granted two private meetings with Sheehan, who apparently has loads of time on her hands and seems to think she is entitled to a presidential audience whenever she feels the urge. It is understandable that Bush would eschew a third meeting, since Sheehan has called him a “bastard,” a “Nazi,” and a “fascist.”

Since then, Sheehan has publicly announced that she is giving up her role as a protester because of the personal and emotional toll she has experienced over the past two years. But wait!, as the TV ads say, there’s more. Put a hold on that retirement announcement. Sheehan now says she plans to challenge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi next year for California’s 8th district seat. This is Sheehan’s way of punishing Pelosi for being too soft on President Bush. Unless Pelosi introduces articles of impeachment against Bush by July 23, threatens Sheehan, she will enter the 2008 House contest.

Sheehan also said she is leaving the Democratic Party because of its ongoing funding for the Iraq war and the party’s obsequious position toward Bush. Sheehan wrote in her Web diary that the Democratic Party has failed to bring an unpopular war to an end because it “often puts personal egos above peace and human life.”

The diary continues, “The United States is becoming a fascist corporate wasteland,” and that certain Democrats turned on Sheehan when she began to hold them responsible for ending the four-year conflict. Sheehan also said her position against the war has ruined her marriage and that she owes extensive medical bills generated by the stress and strain of her activities. Sheehan has said repeatedly that her son “died for nothing” because both the Democrats and Republicans are playing politics with human lives while hundreds of American servicemen are killed each month.

Christopher Hitchens, writing in the online magazine Slate, says that while many believe that parents who bury children killed in Iraq have an absolute moral authority, Sheehan has stepped over the line. There is also the suspicion that the death of Casey Sheehan is being used in an unseemly manner by his mother. “I think one must deny to anyone the right to ventriloquize the dead,” Hitchens writes. “Casey Sheehan joined up as a responsible adult volunteer. Are we so sure that he would have wanted to see his mother acquiring a knack for public relations and announcing that he was killed in a neocon agenda to benefit Israel?”

Cindy Sheehan’s threat to unseat Nancy Pelosi next year is considered by many political analysts an empty threat. Pelosi is steeped in political savvy. Her father served as a U.S. Congressman from Maryland and mayor of Baltimore. She interned for Maryland senator Daniel Brewster and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. As the current House Speaker, Pelosi is the highest ranking woman in the history of U.S. government. And despite Cindy Sheehan’s accusations, Pelosi has been a highly vocal critic of President Bush on a variety of issues, including the war. Pelosi did indeed block funding legislation this year for the Iraq war, which many of her colleagues equate with abandoning U.S. troops in the field. But recent defections from a war-supportive position by many prominent Republicans, as well as Democrats, puts Pelosi back in the catbird’s seat.

While a head-to-head battle between Pelosi and Sheehan for Pelosi’s House seat next year might give Sheehan a little more face time on television, the outcome would most certainly still see Pelosi coasting to an easy reelection victory. An 11th term for Pelosi in 2008 is virtually assured by her many loyal and enthusiastic Bay Area supporters. Thus Cindy Sheehan becomes relegated to, in Shakespeare’s words, “A poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more.”

– Chase.Hamil

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