When Cindy Sheehan first entered the public spotlight, we predicted the eventual end to her career as a celebrity/anti-war activist. Even during the heady days of “Camp Casey” in Crawford, Texas–when Ms. Sheehan’s moral authority as the mother of a dead solider was unquestioned–it was easy enough to spot the underlying motivations for her crusade. Ms. Sheehan was a convenient prop for the anti-war movement, and she was clearly seduced by the siren call of fame. As we noted in August 2005:
Has Ms. Sheehan’s grief morphed into righteous anger? Perhaps, but I believe there’s another explanation for her dramatic change-of-heart. Quite simply, I believe Ms. Sheehan has filled the sudden emptiness in her life with the siren call of celebrity. Suddenly, she’s being beseiged with requests for interviews, and seeing her name and picture in the newspaper. It can be heady stuff. Consider the example of Marc Klass, the California father whose young daughter, Polly, was brutally murdured more than 10 years ago. That ordeal elevated Mr. Klass to celebrity status, and he’s always on TV whenever there’s a high-profile kidnapping or murder case involving a child. I might be reading him wrong, but Mr. Klass strikes me as someone in love with the sound of his own voice. I see a similar quality in Ms. Sheehan, who appears willing to trade on personal tragedy in pursuit of the public spotlight.
Now, Ms. Sheehan is calling it quits, announcing today that she done being the face of the anti-war movement. In a brief interview with the AP (and a “resignation letter” posted at DailyKos), Sheehan signed off a verbal barrage aimed at her erstwhile friends in the Democratic Party, and the American people that refused to blindly endorse her anti-war campaign:
“I’ve been wondering why I’m killing myself and wondering why the Democrats caved in to
George Bush,” Sheehan told The Associated Press while driving from her property in Crawford to the airport, where she planned to return to her native California…
And from her resignation letter:
“Good-bye America … you are not the country that I love and I finally realized no matter how much I sacrifice, I can’t make you be that country unless you want it.
“It’s up to you now.”
To her credit, AP reporter Angela Brown found the real reasons behind Ms. Sheehan’s sudden “retirement.” Kristinn Taylor, a conservative activist who posts frequently at FreeRepublic.com, believes that dwindling crowds at Sheehan’s recent “events” may have led to the decision. BTW, Mr. Taylor has been influential in organizing counter-protests and “support the troops” rallies that have been effective in challenging the anti-war movement. Readers will note that he’s never received a fraction of the publicity afforded to “Mother Sheehan,” and unlike the “absolute moral authority,” Mr. Taylor has never abandoned his cause, even when times were tough.
Kristinn Taylor also echoes a point we made a couple of years ago. Namely, Cindy Sheehan was used by the anti-war movement, and would be cast aside after she served her purpose:
There is also a personal danger in Ms. Sheehan’s approach. In some respects, she reminds me of Norma Jean McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” of the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion case. As Ms. McCorvey noted years later, she was essentially “used” by abortion advocates, seeking to overturn Texas’ anti-abortion law. After the Supreme Court decision, Ms. McCorvey was dumped by her feminist supporters, leaving her alone to cope with the consequences of the ruling, and her personal decision to have an abortion… It doesn’t take a media spin doctor to understand that Sheehan may become the Norma Jean McCorvey of the anti-war movement. Once the Iraq War ends–or they simply find a more coherent spokesman, Ms. Sheehan will find herself on the ash heap of celebrity, alone to mourn the loss of a son, and her brief media career.
We’ll second Kristinn Taylor’s notion that Ms. Sheehan was deeply hurt by the loss of her son, and deserves a chance to heal. But we’re also sticking by an observation we made a couple of years ago. After the death of her son in Iraq, Cindy Sheehan missed an opportunity to channel her grief and anger into more productive pursuits–say, actually supporting the troops. Instead, she opted for a few minutes in the spotlight, as the media flavor of the month. Now, alone with her grief, she may discover just how bitter the world of former activist/celebrity really is.
And perhaps there is some justice in that; as Cindy Sheehan fades from the public view, we can finally remember the real hero of the family: her son Casey, the Army specialist who volunteered for a mission to rescue his fellow soldiers and gave his life in the process. The sacrifice and heroism of Casey Sheehan is worth remembering; his mother’s career as activist and media darling is best relegated to the trash heap of instant celebrity.