Peace Vigil in Crawford, Texas: Opposition

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Opposition continues to grow against Cindy Sheehan's Peace Vigil in Crawford, Texas outside President George W. Bush's 1,600-acre ranch during Bush's August 2005 5-week vacation. Although Sheehan has "galvanised the anti-war movement", the vigil has also "provoked a vicious political slanging match," Paul Harris, wrote in The Observer (UK), August 21, 2005.

Move America Forward PR Offensive

Nina J. Easton and Susan Milligan, reported in the August 23, 2005, Boston Globe:

"Facing sagging public opinion polls and an increasingly spirited antiwar movement, the Bush administration and its allies this week launched a broad public relations offensive, with a presidential defense of the war -- including an acknowledgment of the conflict's mounting death toll -- and a caravan of supportive military families carrying their message to the Bush ranch in Texas. ...

"Seven hundred miles away, in San Francisco, a conservative group called Move America Forward launched a multicity bus and car caravan under the banner You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy -- a reference to Cindy Sheehan, the soldier's mother who became the face of the antiwar movement after planting herself outside Bush's Crawford ranch to protest the death of her son. ...

"Conservatives supporting military operations in Iraq plan a five-day tour of Western cities that will end Saturday in Crawford, where about 2,000 antiwar protesters have gathered. ...

"The arrival of the war's supporters in Crawford, who are determined to offset the media's attention on Sheehan, promises to set up a high-noon-like showdown between soldiers' families.

"'In both cases, you can't deny the poignancy,' said Alex Bloom, a history professor at Wheaton College in Norton. 'The question is going to be, who's more compelling to the American audience?' ...

"'There's so much negative information in the media,' said Deborah Johns, a Roseville, Calif., mother of a Marine who is about to serve his third tour of duty in Iraq. 'If the building of bridges and roads and schools and power plants was portrayed in the media, it would make a huge difference. We need to stand by our men and women so they can keep their morale up.'

"Johns, who is making several media appearances, called Sheehan's son, Casey, 'an American hero' and said she has invited his mother to discuss 'the best way to get the country rebuilt and get our people out sooner rather than later.' She said Sheehan, who left Crawford to care for her ailing mother but is expected to return this week, has not responded.

"Conservatives have blasted Sheehan for her alliance with the leftist antiwar group, but the conservative effort behind Johns has its own partisan history: Move America Forward, founded by Howard Kaloogian a Republican and former California assemblyman, and radio host Melanie Morgan, launched the successful 2003 campaign to recall Governor Gray Davis of California, a Democrat. The group has also vigorously backed Bush's controversial selection of John Bolton as US ambassador to the United Nations, calling him a leader who can stand up to the 'blame America first crowd.'

"The group has produced a TV commercial in which Johns declares that Sheehan 'certainly doesn't speak for me or military families or our men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.'"

Anti-Cindy Pro-Bush, Pro-War Rally August 27, 2005

"The pro-Bush rally by the school football stadium was the culmination of the 'You don't speak for me, Cindy!' tour that started last week in California — referring to the protest that peace activist Cindy Sheehan started Aug. 6 near Bush's ranch," Associated Press reporter Angela K. Brown wrote August 28, 2005.

"Several times the crowd of about 1,500 chanted, 'Cindy, go home!'," she said.

"'You are giving hope and encouragement to the enemies of America,' said former California Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian, a Republican who co-founded Move America Forward, the group that coordinated the rally."

"Later Saturday, a few Bush supporters went to the edge of the anti-war camp trying to remove some of the hundreds of white crosses bearing fallen soldiers' names. They had a list from families who didn't want their sons' or daughters' names associated with Sheehan's group. Sheriff's deputies said they could remove the name tags but not the crosses, so the group removed a few tags and left."

"It was the largest counter protest since Sheehan started camping out off the road leading to Bush's ranch after his Texas vacation began. A handful of Bush supporters have set up a small camp in a ditch across the street from Sheehan's site, and another pro-Bush camp opened beside a downtown souvenir store last weekend."

Swift Boating Cindy

"Cindy Sheehan couldn't have picked a more apt date to begin the vigil that ambushed a president: Aug. 6 was the fourth anniversary of that fateful 2001 Crawford vacation day when George W. Bush responded to an intelligence briefing titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States" by going fishing. On this Aug. 6 the president was no less determined to shrug off bad news. Though 14 marine reservists had been killed days earlier by a roadside bomb in Haditha, his national radio address that morning made no mention of Iraq. Once again Mr. Bush was in his bubble, ensuring that he wouldn't see Ms. Sheehan coming," Frank Rich wrote August 21, 2005.

"True to form, the attack on Cindy Sheehan surfaced early on Fox News, where she was immediately labeled a 'crackpot' by Fred Barnes. The right-wing blogosphere quickly spread tales of her divorce, her angry Republican in-laws, her supposed political flip-flops, her incendiary sloganeering and her association with known ticket-stub-carrying attendees of 'Fahrenheit 9/11.' Rush Limbaugh went so far as to declare that Ms. Sheehan's 'story is nothing more than forged documents - there's nothing about it that's real.'

"But this time the Swift Boating failed, utterly, and that failure is yet another revealing historical marker in this summer's collapse of political support for the Iraq war."

Pro-Bush, Pro-war "Activists"

"Facing sagging public opinion polls and an increasingly spirited antiwar movement, the Bush administration and its allies this week launched a broad public relations offensive, with a presidential defense of the war -- including an acknowledgment of the conflict's mounting death toll -- and a caravan of supportive military families carrying their message to the Bush ranch in Texas."

Calling it You don't speak for me, Cindy!, the pro-Bush caravan of conservative activists and military families embarked Monday, August 22, 2005, from California, headed for Crawford with rallies planned "in several California cities."

The group "clashed with anti-war activists as they wound their way through California after rallying in the hometown of Cindy Sheehan [and a] verbal confrontation erupted when the caravan arrived in Sacramento and was met by anti-war protesters chanting for Bush to bring home the troops."

"Some caravan members called the anti-war protesters communists and said they were 'aiding and abetting the enemy.' Those comments enraged Sheehan supporter Dee Ann Heath, who said she has two sons serving in Iraq and another preparing to leave. ... 'I don't support the war, but I support my sons,' she said. 'I simply want them to come home.'" [1]

Pro-war "Fort Qualls" in Crawford

A pro-war encampment "named 'Fort Qualls,' in memory of Marine Lance Cpl. Louis Wayne Qualls, 20, who died in Iraq last fall," has sprung up in Crawford, complete with a "God Bless Our President!" banner downtown to counter the anti-war encampment at Camp Casey.

"Large counter-protests were held in a ditch near Sheehan's site a week after she arrived, and since then, a few Bush supporters have stood in the sun holding signs for several hours each day," Associated Press correspondent Angela K. Brown wrote August 21, 2005. "Bill Johnson, a local gift shop owner who created 'Fort Qualls,' said he wanted to offer a larger, more convenient place for Bush supporters to gather."

Johnson "and others at 'Fort Qualls' have asked for a debate with those at the Crawford Peace House, which is helping Sheehan," but the prospect of that happening is unknown.

"Rush 24/7"

"I mean, Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real, including the mainstream media's glomming onto it. It's not real. It's nothing more than an attempt. It's the latest effort made by the coordinated left." --Rush Limbaugh, The Rush Limbaugh Show, August 15, 2005. Posted on Media Matters for America website.

The full transcript of Rush's broadcasts are available to "Rush 24/7" members only. Listen to mp3 audio clip on the Media Matters for America website.

Even Limbaugh's words are documented on audio tape -- and "Limbaugh himself featured his original statement on his website as a 'Members Only' quote." -- on his August 17, 2005, radio broadcast he informed listeners that he was misreported. [2]

Sheehan Family

  • Sheehan's protest has "divided parts of her own family, some of whom sent an e-mail to news organizations distancing themselves from her protest." Sheehan said "that the admonition came from in-laws who often disagreed with her. ... 'We have always been on separate sides of the fence politically and I have not spoken to them since the elections when they supported the man who is responsible for Casey's death,' Sheehan said. 'The thing that matters to me is that my family, Casey's dad and my other three kids, are on the same side of the fence that I am.'" --Washington Post, August 13, 2005.

Gallagher's Army

"Bush brings in an Iraqi ringer (again)"

Tammy Pruett

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