HolyCoast: The Dangers of a Bored Press Corps

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Dangers of a Bored Press Corps

We've seen in the last couple of weeks numerous articles and silly polls about the president's vacation, and though he is not at the White House, Christopher Cooper points out in this article in the Wall Street Journal just how good the White House team is at controlling the news cycle while Bush is 'vacationing' It's worth reading.

As much as I enjoy the thought of the press corps standing around in 100 degree heat in Crawford, TX with not much to do, there are dangers associated with a bored bunch of pressies. It's the perfect opportunity for some opportunist to show up and get a bunch of unwarranted press attention. We're seeing that happening now with the disingenuous Cindy Sheehan, who's credibility has already been destroyed by her dramatic change of tune, and of story, regarding her previous meeting with Bush.

When I read that the White House had dispatched several senior officials to meet with her, I thought they were making a mistake. Not because her loss isn't important, but because the meetings set a bad precedent. Now that it's been demonstrated that a lone protester can get a bunch of national media attention, how long until a bunch more decide to show up down there and give the bored press some more nonsense to write about. And how will the White House staff have to respond? Christopher Cooper thinks that just might happen:
Cindy Sheehan, the 48-year-old mother of a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq, has spent a year trying to whip up antiwar support, with mixed results. But when she showed up in Crawford last week with a few dozen like-minded protestors, Ms. Sheehan, of Vacaville, Calif., was overrun by reporters captivated by her story. Along with other parents of soldiers killed in Iraq, Ms. Sheehan met with the president at Fort Lewis, outside Seattle, a year ago. However, she says she felt Mr. Bush treated her callously during that event and is asking for another meeting.

Pitching a tent on the shoulder of a country road leading to Mr. Bush's ranch and vowing not to budge until she receives a presidential audience, Ms. Sheehan says she has gotten more news attention after a few days in Crawford than she did from a year of participating in events around the country, including one in Washington earlier in the summer.

"I got some phone calls after the Washington protest, but nothing like this," Ms. Sheehan said. "It's pretty much been nonstop interviews since Saturday." She puts the chance of meeting with Mr. Bush at less than one-half of 1%.

Nonetheless, Ms. Sheehan, a self-described "broken-hearted mother," has been treated carefully by the administration, which dispatched National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagin to meet with her. In recent weeks, Mr. Bush has emphasized that he is personally affected by the number of U.S. casualties in Iraq.

Some activists wonder if Ms. Sheehan may be the first in a line of protestors to descend on Crawford in the dog days of summer. "The coverage of Cindy Sheehan has been extraordinary. I see people in tents outside of the White House all the time and they never get any attention," says Judd Legum, deputy research director for the Center for American Progress, a liberal activist group. "I could see her inspiring others -- she seems to have found a soft spot."

If she does start a trend, Ms. Sheehan says, it will be by accident. "It was a spur-of-the-moment thing," to come to Crawford, Ms. Sheehan said. "If it puts a dent in the president's vacation, that's just a bonus."

Since the press corps has nothing to do all day but sit around and interview Ms. Sheehan, I'd like to suggest a couple of questions of my own:
  1. Why did you change your story about your meeting with President Bush? Did someone suggest that you do that, or did you do that on your own? (To my knowledge this question still hasn't been asked, despite the revelation of her past statements.)
  2. How is it that you are able to afford to travel all around the country to anti-war events? Are you receiving financial support from antiwar groups, and who is paying for this little campout in Crawford?
Here's what I think is going on. Someone in the antiwar left found in Ms. Sheehan a willing subject who could be molded into the image they wanted, and now they're playing her like a cheap fiddle. Why would I think something so evil as that (I just threw a bone to the lefties who are reading this)? Just look at how her story changed. She went from describing the president as a 'sincere' man who gave her the 'gift of happiness', to describing him as a frat boy party animal. That latter description is right out of the wacky left playbook. You'll never convince me that someone didn't get to her.
The other issue is finances. I don't know how she supports herself, but I'd be shocked and amazed if she's not receiving some outside financing from groups that think they'll benefit from her performance. She may be so caught up in her personal grief that she neither knows nor cares how she's being manipulated, but it sure looks like she's not operating as a free agent.
It's a shame that she had to lose her son, and that she's becoming a pawn of the antiwar movement.
Oh, and by the way, it turns out Ms. Sheehan is no friend of Isreal either (h/t LittleGreenFootballs):
“And the other thing I want him to tell me is ‘just what was the noble cause Casey died for?’ Was it freedom and democracy? Bullsh*t! He died for oil. He died to make your friends richer. He died to expand American imperialism in the Middle East. We’re not freer here, thanks to your PATRIOT Act. Iraq is not free. You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you’ll stop the terrorism,” she exclaimed.
Looks like there's a new soprano in the moonbat choir.

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