FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Whither the Withering Antiwar Movement?
It was a dreary November morning in 2006. I still lived in Alexandria, VA back then. While voting for the GOP, I reminded myself of a classic Robert Heinlein novel – Stranger In a Strange Land.
Standing in line, I was surrounded by angry hordes of liberals. They anticipated a Visigoth holiday at the expense of Speaker Hastert’s dying GOP majority. I heard endless talk of ending the war. The line repeated by many in line was that this was the most important election of their lifetime. The war had to end.
At another precinct near the one I voted in, a man drove up in a pick-up truck with a coffin in the back. A sign on it read “George W. Bush Killed My Son.” The Democrats swept into power, the wars continue interminably, and the bereaved gentleman’s son still lies dead. It’s the major-league protests that are missing.
Matt Tiabbi picked up early that the Anti-War Movement had just gotten PWNED. The Democrats saw them as useful idiots, and as early as 2008, they already had begun to kick them to the curb. His Rolling Stone Magazine piece The Chicken Doves, openly dripped with his trademark disdain and contempt for opportunistic poseurs, who used a movement which he believed in.
Starting with the perpetually risible Harry Reid, Tiabbi wastes no time below.
Solidifying his reputation as one of the biggest pussies in U.S. political history, Reid explained his decision to refocus his party’s energies on topics other than ending the war by saying he just couldn’t fit Iraq into his busy schedule. “We have the presidential election,” Reid said recently. “Our time is really squeezed.”
Working behind the scenes, the Democrats have systematically taken over the anti-war movement, packing the nation’s leading group with party consultants more interested in attacking the GOP than ending the war. “Our focus is on the Republicans,” one Democratic apparatchik in charge of the anti-war coalition declared. “How can we juice up attacks on them?”
The story of how the Democrats finally betrayed the voters who handed them both houses of Congress a year ago is a depressing preview of what’s to come if they win the White House.
Tiabbi, like Rasputin with a byline, has earned a reputation for being a whack-job. Yet also, like Rasputin, Tiabbi is an intelligent whack-job. Intelligent whack-jobs sometimes prove to be prescient whack-jobs. That last sentence I quoted above has a ring to it. Somewhere Malcolm X’s poltergeist must be muttering about barnyard fowl come home to roost.
In today’s news we still read about Iraq and Afghanistan. Car bombings in Iraq killed 75 and wounded 300. US Military deaths in Afghanistan now have reached 710. Two more soldiers died in a roadside bombing yesterday.
Everything the Antiwar Movement hated about Iraq and Afghanistan still happens on a daily basis. It happens with Democrats holding all the powerful, elected positions in Washington, DC.
While I still believe we need to win these wars, it would be nice to see sauce for the goose get served up with the gander as well. By vanishing like a ground fog in the hot Alabama Sun, the Antiwar Movement shows itself a cheap, dope-smoking proxy for the election of leftwing politicians- regardless of how these liberals use the military once ensconced in power. The protests against the Iraq war used dead soldiers as props. The only thing missing was a big “Mission Accomplished” sign at Barack Obama’s Coronation Day.
Byron York, of the Washington Examiner, feels equally nauseated by the aestivation of the Winter Soldier. In his column “For the Left, war without Bush is not war at all,” he berates the self-righteous leftists for their convictions of political convenience.
Remember the anti-war movement? Not too long ago, the Democratic party’s most loyal voters passionately opposed the war in Iraq. Democratic presidential candidates argued over who would withdraw American troops the quickest. Netroots activists regularly denounced President George W. Bush, and sometimes the U.S. military (“General Betray Us”). Cindy Sheehan, the woman whose soldier son was killed in Iraq, became a heroine when she led protests at Bush’s Texas ranch.
That was then. Now, even though the United States still has roughly 130,000 troops in Iraq, and is quickly escalating the war in Afghanistan — 68,000 troops there by the end of this year, and possibly more in 2010 — anti-war voices on the Left have fallen silent.
York, like me, writes in partisan fugue. That doesn’t mean he abandons the truth, and it also doesn’t prevent him from having touched a nerve. I imagine Mr. York needed a new keyboard if he were drinking a Coke as he read his email. Fan mail from Cindy Sheehan probably knocked him for a loop.
I read your column about the “anti-war” movement and I can’t believe I am saying this, but I mostly agree with you. The “anti-war” “left” was used by the Democratic Party. I like to call it the “anti-Republican War” movement. While I agree with you about the hypocrisy of such sites as the DailyKos, I have known for a long time that the Democrats are equally responsible with the Republicans. That’s why I left the party in May 2007 and that’s why I ran for Congress against Nancy Pelosi in 2008. I have my own radio show, “Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox,” and I was out on a four-month book tour promoting the fact that it’s not about Democrats or Republicans, but it’s about the system.
Even if I am surrounded by a thousand, or no one, I am still working for peace.
Think what you will of Ms. Sheehan’s convictions and behavior, but that is what as known as walking the walk. Kossian Winnerism be damned. Except that it won’t.
Liberals now consider Sheehan to be an irritant. To the Democrats, Sheehan is a noble fool on a fool’s errand. She can only hurt them by focusing attention on their inability and total unwillingness to even seriously consider honoring what they promised the antiwar movement.
She will become the proverbial tree that falls in a lonely forest. Maureen Dowd will no longer admit to knowing her name – forget about any testament to her profound moral authority. Sheehan understands this and still grasps the nettle. She earns my begrudging respect for traveling the hard road, while her so-called moral compatriots bask in their sybaritic political victory.
That explains what happened to the Antiwar Movement in America. They won. Who gives a damn about whether there’s still a war happening?