Monday, July 9, 2007

Showdown by the Bay: Sheehan vs. Pelosi

You may have read that Cindy Sheehan is considering running against current House Speaker Nancy "Impeachment Is Off The Table" Pelosi in next year's election. First, a quick snip of the AssPress article - courtesy of Marisacat:
Sheehan Considers Challenge to Pelosi
CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) — Cindy Sheehan, the soldier’s mother who galvanized the anti-war movement, said Sunday that she plans to seek House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s congressional seat unless she introduces articles of impeachment against President Bush in the next two weeks.
Sheehan said she will run against the San Francisco Democrat in 2008 as an independent if Pelosi does not seek by July 23 to impeach Bush. That’s when Sheehan and her supporters are to arrive in Washington, D.C., after a 13-day caravan and walking tour starting next week from the group’s war protest site near Bush’s Crawford ranch.
Not too surprisingly, since Ms. Sheehan has been known to frequent Daily Kos, she announced her intentions over there, with the predictable result: a lot of partisan Democrat whining, including the usual dross about her writing a "troll diary," and of course the usual effort by current and former DK front-pagers to show her the door.

What has happened is that the Dems couldn't "contain" Ms. Sheehan. Let's go back to two years ago, when Stan Goff said (circa August 2005):
The Democrats are already grooming a few 2008 candidates, including the execrable Hillary Rodham Clinton who has stated her desire to beef up the war against Southwest Asia. Let's not forget that her husband presided over an Iraqi holocaust that George W. Bush is still trying to match. The Republicans are secure for now with their white nationalist popular base. An active and increasingly militant left is a more immediate threat to the Democrats ­ who have prospered from Republican reaction for decades now by capturing social bases that feel they have nowhere else to go. That dilemma is real, but it is also predicated on the notion that to "go there" we need to contain ourselves in electoralism and pluralist policy fights that are engineered by corporations and NGOs.
That's why Sheehan and others who propose the radical option of simply leaving Iraq are now being surrounded by the friendly faces of "progressives" who will try and redirect this newfound mobilization along the acceptable policy-debate paths.
Something I said from around the same time:

If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything. And that, as I see it is the real problem with the Dems. The "base" that the party takes for granted has no clue as to what the Dem party actually stands for. Folks periodically ask me what the Dems believe, and I have to say in all honesty that God only knows, and I'm sure even He is a bit puzzled. What we do know is that the Dem party leadership falls hook, line, and sinker for whatever b.s. the White House demands for fear of being labeled "obstructionist," "unpatriotic," and possibly "losing next year's election." That isn't exactly an inspiring approach to representative governing.
Cindy Sheehan has done something that the Dems have largely failed to do with regard to Iraq: she asked the question "why are we there?" If the Dems want to capitalize on the increasing dissatisfaction with the war, they would be well advised to ride the wave of dissent rather than try to contain it. Adding more troops (impractical) and looking for ways to exit with "dignity" (a term that in this context smells of American machismo) aren't going to cut it. Besides, to take an a line or two from an old David Bowie tune, "dignity is valuable, but our lives are valuable too." Tell it straight up: it was the wrong war, at the wrong time, fought for the wrong reasons; and it's high time to get the hell out and stop making even more of a mess of things in the region. There are no good reasons for Americans or Iraqis to keep dying. The party might generate some cross words from the Rush Limbaughs and Ann Coulters of the world as a result, but that would have happened any way. In the process, the Dems might even gain a bit of the respect and trust that they've lost over the last couple decades. Otherwise, folks like me (just one of the "base") will keep on eying the third party scene for a better deal.
I'm sure at some point at one of the various gated community blogs I predicted that Cindy Sheehan's days at Daily Kos would be numbered; once it became readily apparent that Ms. Sheehan was not going to toe a Democrat Party line, she'd become expendable. The rumblings that she'd worn out her welcome at Big Orange were there for a while - now it's out in the open. In truth, the anti-war movement was useful to Dems only to the extent that anti-war voters might help the party get Congressional majorities and perhaps successfully recapture the White House. Once we stop being ATM machines for the Dems and various affiliated groups (e.g., MoveOn), then that bunch of goons simply doesn't want to know us.

Certainly I don't delude myself to think that Sheehan has a snowball's chance in Death Valley of unseating Pelosi. One: it's not entirely clear what her campaign will be about (beyond the Iraq War). Two: even if Sheehan gets it together as far as a coherent candidacy goes, there are more than enough Vichy "progressives" willing to give Pelosi sufficient cover to win in 2008. If nothing else, a Sheehan candidacy against Pelosi would serve to highlight Pelosi's many embarrassing failures as a so-called leader - in and of itself that would be valuable.

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