Cindy Sheehan represents something that George and Oligarchs do not want to confront: the opposition. The President’s Texas compound provides a protective environment for his vacation, and Cindy and her fellow campers live outside that recreational haven, unheard and unnecessary. Problem is, the campground keeps getting more tenants, and they won’t go away.
The issue is simple. Her son was killed in Iraq last year. She believes her son’s death was unnecessary: the United States invaded Iraq for spurious reasons, and her family sacrifice was too high a price to pay for such poor leadership decision-making. She wants the leader of our country to hear this, and to explain his decision.
But George only surrounds himself with supporters. Other voices and opinions are superfluous. An oligarchy survives on disciplined adherence to the leader’s direction.
George has already expressed his sympathy to those who have lost sons and daughters in Iraq and Afghanistan. To his mind, he cannot respond to every parent who asks for an audience, especially if they have publically expressed their opposition to George’s Iraq decisions.
Cindy actually represents something much larger: the generational difference between today and the Vietnam war. Public opposition to the Iraq war now equals the disapproval numbers for US action in Southeast Asia. George’s low approval ratings rival those of both Johnson and Nixon during the height of the Vietnam war.
But we do not have marches in the street, college campuses in an uproar, smoke bombs and firehoses aimed at surging masses of protest. All we have are Cindy and a collection of distraught parents, camping out quietly in George’s neighbor’s lawn.
The difference is the lack of a draft. We don’t have a population of nervous 18-25 year olds wondering whether their number is up and they will be sent off to an undefined and controversial war. This population comes with an equivalent number of parents worried about losing their progeny to a war that seems as vacuous as the one they grew up with 30 years ago.
So we have a generation with the appropriate dose of skepticism, but missing the personal reason to complain in the streets.
So Cindy becomes pretty lonely martyr. And the Oligarchs can smirk behind the fence.