George W. Bush has only one sort of plausible explanation for not meeting with Cindy Sheehan: He’s the president of the United States, and he’s too busy solving the world’s problems to have face-to-face meetings with every American who asks, no matter who she is or how much she has suffered as a result of his war of choice in Iraq.
It’s not much of an explanation, but it’s what he’s got — at least until the president of the United States somehow finds time for a bicycle ride, some fishing, a nap and a Little League baseball game on a single day at his Crawford, Texas, ranch. When that’s what his schedule looks like, the president of the United States needs a new explanation. And as Bush set off on a two-hour bike ride with reporters and aides Saturday, he had one.
The president told Cox News that he’s aware that Sheehan is waiting to talk with him just outside his ranch. “But whether it be here or in Washington or anywhere else,” he said, “there’s somebody who has got something to say to the president, that’s part of the job. And I think it’s important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say.
“But I think it’s also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life … I think the people want the president to be in a position to make good, crisp decisions and to stay healthy. And part of my being is to be outside exercising. So I’m mindful of what goes on around me. On the other hand, I’m also mindful that I’ve got a life to live and will do so.”
Casey Sheehan might have enjoyed a bicycle ride Saturday, too.
Bush vs. Sheehan: The race to the bottom
When John McCain had George W. Bush on the ropes in South Carolina in 2000, he quickly found himself subject to smears about his mental condition and family. When Richard Clarke criticized Bush after 9/11, Dick Cheney tried to discredit him as someone who “wasn’t in the loop.” When Paul O’Neill said that Bush used 9/11 as a pretext to invade Iraq, the White House said that he was ignored when he worked for the administration and should be ignored afterward, too. When Joseph Wilson said Bush had misled the nation in the run-up to the war, the White House called him a liar and outed his wife.
Hello, Cindy Sheehan.
After all these years, no one should be surprised by what’s happening to Sheehan. As McCain and Clarke and O’Neill and Wilson did before her, Sheehan has put George W. Bush in a tight spot. And like of each them, she now finds herself the victim of smear after smear after smear from the right. You can almost hear James Taranto rubbing his hands as he ticks off the revelations about Sheehan: Her family is “imploding”! She and her husband separated over the war! Her surviving son wishes she would come home!
And Sheehan’s political views? Over at RedState.org, a poster thinks it’s high time that the media gets the word out about those, too. Sheehan said the president likes to surround himself with “sycophants”! She said that her son died for “lies and a PNAC Neo-Con agenda to benefit Israel”! She said he died for oil! She said the PATRIOT Act has made U.S. citizens less free! She said that terrorism will stop if the U.S. gets out of Iraq and Israel gets out of Palestine!
On “Meet the Press” over the weekend, the National Review’s Byron York said that White
House officials “do not want to criticize” Sheehan, even in private. And why should they when the likes of the Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes are willing to take it upon themselves to call Sheehan a “crackpot”?
We’ll stipulate that when the subject moves away from support for the war, Sheehan holds some views that aren’t all that popular with some Americans. But the same could be said about Bush, too. It used to be that Americans were willing to look past what they didn’t like about Bush — his handling of the economy, his plan to privatize Social
Security, his views on abortion and stem cell research — because they liked him as their wartime president. Not anymore. With the war going badly, terrorists hitting London and the future of Iraq looking grim, the president’s approval ratings are, across the board, at or near their lowest levels ever.
His supporters have only one way to save him from Cindy Sheehan: Make hers even lower.
It gets ugly in Crawford
We thought the blowback against Cindy Sheehan hit rock bottom when Bill O’Reilly suggested that her vigil in Crawford, Texas, “borders on treasonous” and Michelle Malkin offered up the view that Sheehan’s dead son wouldn’t approve. Then we thought it couldn’t get any worse when the president of the United States said he couldn’t take
the time to meet with Sheehan because his exercise schedule was more important.
We were wrong. On Monday night, a driver in a pickup truck rammed through rows of white crosses Sheehan and her supporters have placed across a road near the president’s Crawford ranch. So much for supporting the troops: The crosses bore the names of soldiers who were killed in the war in Iraq.
Monday night’s incident was just the latest sign that things are getting ugly in Crawford. Over the weekend, one of Bush’s neighbors fired a shotgun in the air as Sheehan and her supporters began a prayer service. He said he was getting ready to hunt doves. And according to a Bloomberg News report, some of Bush’s Crawford neighbors plan to go to court in Waco today to seek an order prohibiting anyone from parking or stopping on roads near Bush’s ranch.
The neighbors’ efforts could run into a roadblock stronger than the white crosses that once stretched across the roadway. It’s called the U.S. Constitution, the First Amendment to which protects the right of the people “to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”