I listened to a bit of an interview Bill Press held with Cindy Sheehan this morning. I was always impressed with Sheehan's earnest, moral fervor. Almost single-handedly, she changed the nature of our public debate about Iraq. For her troubles she was slandered, demeaned, her character and person were attacked, and members of her family were quoted to the effect that she was unbalanced, unstable, and did not represent their views on the war, or the loss of her son, Casey. Standard Operating Procedure for the Republicans - attack-attack-attack.
She was in DC today as part of a walking tour she is doing, to end in New York City. Her plans for today included a march from Arlington National Cemetery to the Rayburn Building and a meeting with Rep. John Conyers. Her hope was to push for Conyers to introduce impeachment resolutions in the House. She also reiterated her consideration of a run against Nancy Pelosi, and her disdain for the Democratic leadership in the House. While I think she is correct on a number of matters, I also found her strident, naive, and representing a certain self-righteousness I feel we need to be rid of.
On impeachment, she dismissed the arguments against pursuing such action by stating that (a) the House only needs a majority to pass impeachment resolutions, and if the caucus sticks together, they have the votes; (b) the issue of impeachment should be non-partisan, and Republicans should vote for it as well; (c) the failure of the House leadership to "keep it on the table" (I'm almost as sick of that phrase as I am of "cut and run") is a failure to do their Constitutional duty.
As a practical matter, she is correct about (a). As a political matter, however, there is a relationship between (a) and (b) that would create the impression (or at least allow Republicans to create the impression) of partisan payback for the impeachment and trial of Pres. Clinton By the way, one reason I believe the Beltway Boys and Girls are not pushing the issue of impeachment is directly related to this issue. They know they were burned for their pumping of impeachment. They do not wish to be burned again, not so much by the American people as by those insiders who provide them with information.
While there is much truth to (b), it is naive in the extreme to think that Republicans will somehow shed their partisan ways once enough evidence is presented forcing impeachment. They didn't do it for Nixon. They won't do it for Bush, no matter how unpopular he is, and no matter how prima facie the case might be. Anyone who thinks that the Republicans will simply toss politics aside for whatever reason is living in cloud-cuckoo land.
As for (c), I think that we are again entering into naive-land. It is one thing to support impeachment of the President (I do). It is another thing to say that those who either aren't acting to make it so or are not supporting it are guilty of bad faith, weakness of principle, or failure to live up to certain obligations. She urges that all listeners should contact their representatives and push for adoption of impeachment articles against the President and VP. I for one refuse to do so, because my representative, Don Manzullo, is a low-level Republican back-bencher, of such little importance that even when the Republicans had a majority, and the Speaker of the House was from a neighboring district, all Manzullo got was the chair of an inconsequential subcommittee. Besides that, Manzullo has shown himself to be an partisan hack. I have no desire to waste my time trying to change something that doesn't exist - his mind. For Sheehan, this may smack of cowardice. For me, it is a way for me to do what I can in my own way.
Which leads me to a final thought. I think that Sheehan has shown remarkable courage, and a strength of will I know I do not have. On the other hand, I think that she has read a few too many of her press clippings. Earnest chest-thumping and moral grandstanding, especially the kind that reveals an ignorance of political realities (no matter how distasteful), may serve one well as a symbol of outrage against an administration hell-bent on destroying the US. They do not serve well as the jumping-off point for a discussion of the politics of impeachment or ending the war in Iraq. I agree with her diagnosis of the problem. Her solution is untenable. There are other ways of gaming the system besides calling people names and insisting that our leaders are moral cowards for not following her advice.
UPDATE: Fire Dog Lake reports that Cindy Sheehan and others were arrested for a sit-in at Rep. Conyers' office. Sheehan came out of an eighty-minute meeting with Conyers saying that the Rep. had said "the only recourse is elections" and proceeded to lead a sit-in. Conyers, on the other hand, refused to comment on the meeting. Who are we to believe?