Thursday, August 11, 2005

Consolidated Cindy@Crawford Contemplations

This is another one of those posts where I try to pull together some musings that have been scattered here and there in comments, in this case some thoughts on Cindy@Crawford, who I think is more of a threat to Bush than Plamegate could ever be.

To elaborate: Unless and until there are indictments or maybe even convictions in L'Affaire Plame, I don't think it's devastating, because there's simply too much room to bandy about half-truths and technicalities and just generally obfuscate and murk things up. Oh, she wasn't really covert. Oh, they didn't really out her. Oh, they didn't really know she was covert. Oh, it's not really a crime, and anyway, the president didn't know about it. And so on, and so on. Enough reality has seeped through to severely damage Bush's poll numbers on honesty - which was supposed to be one of his advantages over those sleazy, morally relativist Democrats - but I don't think it's fatal, and I think it's something that people will forget about when the next blonde girl runs away and gets eaten by a shark. It'll stay in the back of their minds and they won't trust Bush quite as unconditionally as they used to, but many of them will still trust him more than the Democrats, which is all he really needs.

On the other hand, Bush's treatment of Cindy Sheehan damages him on multiple levels, and strikes to the very core of his carefully crafted character. Bush is supposed to be strong and resolute, but he's afraid to "confront" the mother of a soldier who died in his war. He's supposed to be a "compassionate conservative", and a salt-of-the-earth man's man who cares deeply about our troops, yet he allows his minions to tell the aforementioned mother to stay in the ditch, and threaten to arrest her. All of this exposes his cowardice, arrogance, and unaccountability in a way that the Democrats have never been able to make stick. And it does it in a way that's almost impossible to spin or obfuscate. There's no legal technicalities here, no confusion to sow - everyone understands the situation, and everyone knows Bush is ducking and covering. So far, the talking points I've heard have been that Cindy flip-flopped from her initial reaction to meeting Bush, and that her dead son wouldn't approve of what she's doing(!), and both of those are weak and beside the point.

The only thing that would be better is if Bush actually gives in and talks to her... on camera. Remember his peevish reaction to European interviewers who were not properly deferential? Now imagine him snapping at a dead troop's mother on national television. I suspect she would snap back, which would just make him even meaner. This could be the Dead Zone moment I've been waiting for, where he finally exposes his true colors for all to see.

Of course, as always, much depends on how much interest the media has in covering this story. There's certainly a good chance that the corporate ownership will be more than willing to forgo a powerful and compelling story to protect their sugar daddy. Their ability to obsessively and breathlessly cover celebrity trials and missing white girls, even in the absence of any meaningful updates, should translate very well to this sort of long-term vigil situation.

I also wanted to make a comment about strategy: I know there's an impulse to send as many people as possible down to Crawford for a show of solidarity, and to draw more media attention.

Don't. Please.

Cindy doesn't need more people to make her a more compelling story - she carries more weight as a lonely, solitary figure than she does at the center of a giant impromptu political rally. How much impact would those photos of her vigil have if she was surrounded by people waving signs and chanting slogans? More importantly, it makes her easier to frame and dismiss (and arrest) as the MoveOn-backed ringleader of an unruly, dangerous mob stalking the president. I don't mind her having a support system of friends, and/or a posse of other war widows and bereaved mothers (just try arresting all of them, I dare you) - I just don't want to see this turn into a Democrat-sponsored circus that makes Cindy look like a partisan tool. In other words, less really is more.

Oh, and I would be remiss if I did not mention that Viggo Mortensen stopped by "Camp Casey" today...


Anonymous said...

nice catch on Viggo! that dude is a gentleman AND a scholar.

oldwhitelady said...

Now imagine him snapping at a dead troop's mother on national television. I suspect she would snap back, which would just make him even meaner. This could be the Dead Zone moment I've been waiting for, where he finally exposes his true colors for all to see.

This would be GREAT TV. I would turn on my TV to watch!

Diane said...

Damn! That is one of the most sensible posts I've seen on this issue (which I haven't had the courage to touch).

Yanno, dear Eli, you should be blogwhoring the heck out of this.


Anonymous said...

Eli, if the people who go there are also those who lost children, then they need to be there.

But I agree that it shouldn't become a circus. (Kinda agree.)

The Bushies are scrambling here, and they've got a lot of other problems in their immediate future.

Too bad.


Eli said...


Believe me, I have no problem with mothers and widows being there - the more, the merrier. I just don't want it to look like an organized political event with lots of signs and slogan-chanting.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Eli. I agree with you point about not turning it into a circus; remember the Schiavo fiasco. We don't need one of those on our side. I'm thinking between this and the horrible idea of the 9/11 'freedom' march and concert, Bush is having a PR meltdown.

Anonymous said...

I agree. I generally mute the TV when the Bush starts talking (it literally hurts my ears), but I would love to listen to Cindy smack him down.

Anonymous said...

Eli, great post! You really captured it - I actually feel much better now and really hoping for a televised interview, but I'm not holding my breath! Thanks!

Jess said...

What amazes me is that W doesn't even have the courage to speak to her. Not that I want to see him look any better, but it would do him a world of good to meet with her and respectfully listen to her. Even respectfully disagree and console her for her loss.

If he really had a heart, he could be nice to this lady and also come out looking better. His failure to do so shows what a coward he really is and shows the blackness of his heart.