Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

A Parent’s Standing

Like Steve, I have felt very little need to comment on the Sheehan story. No one can question the sincerity of her grief at the loss of her son. However, a post on TAPPED this morning causes me to break the silence. Garance Franke-Ruta offers the following quote from a Dana Milbank article in WaPo:

In a broader sense, none of the particulars about Sheehan matters: not her remarks about Israel and neocons, not her lefty politics, not her divorce and not whether she’s entitled to a second presidential audience. What matters is her ability is to serve as an icon, a symbolic rallying point for an antiwar movement. And all she needs to achieve that is the moral claim she already has, being the mother of a kid who was killed in Iraq.

I find this a bit ironic, because I have serious doubts about whether the source of her standing--her fallen son Casey--would have wanted her to do this. I spent 5 months in Iraq last year reporting for NRO and the Ashbrook Center, and I met a lot of Caseys—men who felt a sense of duty to serve, and men who understood why they were there. Remember: Casey did not just volunteer, he re-upped after the war started. The men in Iraq were appalled by the attempts of politicos in the U.S. to use the deaths and injuries of their comrades as anti-war rallying cries. They were appalled by Senator Kennedy’s grandstanding about the casualties as evidence of quagmire.

I must admit that I had my own fears about being used in such a way, which is why I wrote an article for Ashbrook and NRO which, thankfully, was never published. You see, my parents are liberal, and opposed the war. I feared that if I were killed in Iraq, either my parents, or Ted Kennedy-types might use my passing for their political ends. Admittedly, I do not think that my parents would have taken to the media blitz of Sheehan, but I could understand how their own politics might have entered into conversations with reporters who called, and the reporters could have used it to forward an agenda that I had seen far too vividly among the reporter-class in Iraq. I therefore drafted a final article which I left with my office, explaining why any politicization would be inappropriate based upon my experiences in Iraq. It is the sort of letter that I think most soldiers, who see the day-to-day good that is occurring in Iraq, would also likely write, given their comments to me in the field. Casey left no such letter to my knowledge, and while I cannot speak for him, my own experience with soldiers on the ground and with my parents, who I love but with whom I disagree, gives me graves doubts as to whether Cindy speaks for him either.

Discussions - 10 Comments

Milbank completely misses the mark. Of course "the particulars" about Sheehan matter, and particularly the exact factors included in Milbank’s list. She already met with Bush once, and had a glowing review at the time that has since changed so dramatically that one must conclude she was either lying then or is lying now. Why should anyone give any credence, let alone the status of "icon" or some supposed "absolute moral authority," to someone who is either too unstable or too dishonest to tell the truth? And why should Bush meet with her a second time? Isn’t it enough that he already did it once? Is anyone who has a personal grievance entitled to not one, but two private Presidential meetings.

Sheehan’s "lefty politics" and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories are obviously relevant. The ridiculous "nuclear war," Jewish/neocon cabal, Bush-is-the-real-terrorist nonsense does detract from her credibility and offer further justification for for W’s reluctance to waste more of his time speaking with her. And ditto for her family’s statements regarding her political motivations and exploitation of her son’s death.

It is truly pitiful that the left has sunk this far.

I’ve pointed this out before and I will do so again. If Ms. Sheehan has a moral claim then Mr. Griffin must have the same moral claim. You can read Mr. Griffin here.

He to has lost a son in Iraq yet he still supports the war.

How can such moral claims be so contradictory? They can’t. They are simply opposing points of view. If you want to get to the truth of the matter of whether or not the Iraq war is just then you’ll have to find another means. Truth is static. It does not contradict itself and it is not determined by a point of view.

Something else must light the way. When one looks at the other rantings of Ms. Sheehan then her way does not offer much hope of insight. It is simply an appeal to emotion which is probably why it rings so well with the far left. Most people will feel sorry for her, and I for one do. But this does not make her point of view any more legitimate than that of Mr. Griffin or anyone else for that matter.

I’d like to add a bit to TKC’s sensible remarks.

Maureen Dowd concluded a recent column on Cindy Sheehan by saying that "the moral authority of parents who bury children killed in Iraq is absolute." Leaving aside the obvious rejoinder--that the only person whose moral authority is absolute is God--Dowd raises the question of what it means to have moral authority, what moral authority is.

It seems to me that Cindy Sheehan is morally entitled to our sympathy. We should grieve for her loss. But that loss gives her no authority. For example, I have lost a parent and a grandparent to cancer. You might feel sorry that I have done. This surely gives me a reason to interest myself in cancer research, public policy with regard to health issues, and so on. But it gives me no special authority to speak on such issues. My own grief might even distort my perspective, making me an unreliable `witness.’

Moral authority, as distinguished from moral passion, could only come from the wisdom of the person claiming such authority. Moses, for example, derives his authority from listening to God and doing what God tells him to do. In `secular’ terms, one might claim moral authority by personal adherence to moral rules and skill in applying them to circumstances. This has nothing to do with loss, however, or with the sentiments associated with it. The contradictions that TKC mentions--contradictory opinions with respect to the war among parents who have lost children in the war--flow from this problem.

Mr. Alt is trying to portray himself as some sort of embedded reporter who can one-up his armchair warrior buds at Ashbrook, that his life was in constant peril, but I rode in the same armoured Hummer limo with him, and he was never in any danger. His drafting of a "final article" to be used in the event of his death strikes me as a Frank Burns-ian delusion of grandeur. Come on Robert, let’s see the shrapnel wounds!!!!!

So, that means you are identifiable...not many will fit into a single Hummer. So, ’fess clearly want to say nasty things about Mr. Alt, but don’t have the guts to ID yourself. Identify yourself. If not, admit that Robert is more courageous than you are and shut up.

Careful there, Mr. Dain. If all it takes to be "courageous" is to go to Baghdad and talk with people then you’ll also have to consider Dan Rather and Sean Penn courageous.

Nice one, smartass. Robert Alt was never in an "armoured Hummer limo," and his hotel was hit with rockets on at least two occasions that I know of.

If you have any real arguments about why the war is wrong, or why Bush has waged it poorly, perhaps you should rely on those instead of anonymous, ad hominem falsehoods.

As I suspected, just another Leftist liar. Dirt common, and sad.

I don’t suppose, Dain and Moe, you ever considered that "Armoured Limo Vets for Truth" was just someone doing a spoof on the Swift Boat Vets for Truth and how they "exposed" Kerry for actually being a sissy coward who avoided serving in Vietnam. I sorta doubt that commenter was being serious with his allegations about the "Hummer limo" and such. Kinda funny, though.

Oh, I see...well, Mr... was kidding about the Polish and the sarin shells in another thread. From now on, whenever anyone is caught in an embarrassing lie or expounding an incorrect fact let’s all assume it was satire.

Love you people...shameless and selectively humorous (depending upon whether you get away with it or not).

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