by Jennifer Talhelm
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
WASHINGTON -- Peace mom Cindy Sheehan didn't change her opposition to the war in Iraq after meeting Tuesday with one of its supporters, Sen. John McCain, a Vietnam veteran whom she called "a warmonger."
Sheehan thanked McCain for meeting with her, but she came away disappointed.
"He tried to tell us what George Bush would have said," Sheehan, who protested at the president's Texas home over the summer, told reporters. "I don't believe he believes what he was telling me."
McCain, R-Ariz., also seemed disappointed in the meeting, which he said had been misrepresented as including some of his constituents. Only one person in her small delegation has ties to the state, and that person no longer lives there.
The two exchanged views about the war, and McCain described the conversation as "a rehash" of opinions already well known. He said he might not have met with Sheehan had he known none of his constituents was in the group.
Although McCain has criticized the handling of the Iraq war, he has supported President Bush's call to stop terrorism abroad before it reaches the U.S. Sheehan, whose son, Casey, died in Iraq last year, has energized the anti-war movement with her call for troops to be brought home.
"He is a warmonger, and I'm not," Sheehan said after meeting with McCain. "I believe this war is not keeping America safer."
"She's entitled to her opinion," McCain said. "We just have fundamental disagreements."
Sheehan's conference with McCain was one of several scheduled this week as part of her campaign to persuade members of Congress to explain the reasons for the war. She spoke before a massive anti-war rally Saturday on the National Mall and was arrested Monday demonstrating in front of the White House.
Sheehan and McCain had met once before, shortly after the funeral of her son. Sheehan said Tuesday that McCain told her then that her son's death was "like his buddies in Vietnam" and that he feared their deaths were "for nothing." McCain, however, denied he made such a statement.
MEETING WITH CINDY SHEEHAN
By Howard Dean
September 27, 2005
I met with Cindy Sheehan and three activist supporters here in my office at the DNC (two of whom were involved in the Presidential race) on Saturday after the rally. Some of you have met her, but for those who have not, I thought I would share my impressions.
She is a delightful person. She had not a drop of holier than thou zealotry. She is unpretentious and very clear. All this I expected, given the terrible sacrifice she has made, and her willingness to speak out.
What I was surprised at was her ability to be so comfortable in her own skin. After she became a phenomenon in Crawford, the Republican spin team realized she was a real threat. Cindy Sheehan, made a tremendous personal sacrifice. A sacrifice being made by too many American families who have had loved ones killed or maimed in this war.
Cindy has credibility the Administration does not have. Even the President tried to diminish her by saying that she did not believe in fighting terrorism. His minions, of course, did much worse, trying to make out that she was a media savvy manipulator -- and even spreading false rumors that she was anti-Semitic.
No one is untouched in the face of personal attack, but Cindy exudes an inner calm and a self-confidence which made it clear to me that she will not back down. I respect and support what she is doing in standing up and speaking out.
Whether you think the Iraq war is a good idea or not, all of us should support Cindy Sheehan. Perhaps the grossest disservice the Republican leadership has inflicted on our country is not the war, the huge deficits, or even the divisive appeals to the worst fears of voters. Rather it is the notion that it is unpatriotic to disagree with the most partisan President in our life time, and that dissent harms our country. Nothing could be farther from the truth -- we are a strong country because we have the right to dissent.
In fact it is the attempts of the Administration to fight dissent with personal attacks as they did during the Nixon era are that diminish our country in the long term.
Cindy Sheehan is honest in the face of a dishonest and corrupt Washington culture. She is plain spoken in an era of cynicism and propaganda, she in committed and idealistic in a time where our government has abandoned what is right for America in favor of what is right for the Republican party. We need more Cindy Sheehans.
Starmail - 29. Sep, 14:38