Lefty blogger Shawn Ewald contrasts Cindy Sheehan with an online pundit who calls himself The Meat-Eating Leftist:
As you might expect, the Meat-Eating Leftist is shootin' from the hip with no-nonsense, meat-eating common sense like repeatedly comparing Bush to a chimp. That's so fucking hardcore, dude! He keeps on telling it like it is by saying flat out: "That the chimp needs a bat over his head." Whoa, dude! That's almost too radical!…
Sarcasm aside, the difference between people like Cindy Sheehan and people like the Meat-Eating Leftist is that Sheehan is for real. She doesn't sit back and snipe about what other people should be doing, she went out and put her life on hold, risked her marriage, endured the humiliations of the press because she is serious. This whole Cindy Sheehan thing is what it is, it's not the revolution and it probably won't stop the war, but if it embarrasses the president and gets people out in the street that would ordinarily never dream of going to an anti-war protest, Cindy Sheehan will have already accomplished more than the entire anti-war movement has accomplished to date.
Even the craven, evil mainstream press can see why people are interested in her and inspired by her. Because her protest is not a fashion statement, it's not a line item on her activist resume. It's not about her or her reputation, or her future career, or to satisfy her personal delusions of grandeur. She is for real and we on the left have not been, it's really as simple as that.
Steve Earle said something similar at Camp Casey: "the Vietnam War didn't end because I opposed it, it ended because my father came to oppose it. We have Cindy Sheehan to thank for the beginnings of what I believe is a mainstream movement against this war." And in a dispatch for AlterNet, Amanda Marcotte writes: "I guess I read too many right-wing blogs, because I really did fear that this was going to be a load of navel-gazing hippies, but they represent only a tiny minority of the people milling around. The majority of the people we saw at both camps and at the Peace House were middle-aged women in shorts with sensible shoes and sensible hats. Really, if I didn't know what was going on and just stumbled upon this group of women putting up signs and tables, putting out food and chatting amicably, I would have thought it was the local PTA throwing a high school dance."
All of which is my roundabout way of getting to why I'm much more favorably disposed towards Camp Casey than Tim Cavanaugh was when he wrote about its founding mother in this space last week. My initial reaction to Sheehan was skeptical ("A meeting with the president? What's that going to accomplish?") but before long it was clear that she was a catalyst as well as a symbol for Main Street antiwar sentiment—and that Bush simply doesn't know how to respond to a protest like hers. When the warbots try to slime her, that merely shows how desperate they are: They know they're on the defensive. If Sheehan were the fringe figure they say she is, they would barely bother to talk about her at all.