Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Empty Shell

I've written before about Cindy Sheehan, the Vacaville, CA woman whose son was killed in Iraq in 2004.

Since his death, she's taken on an activist role against the war and has begun an organization called Gold Star Families for Peace. She's made extensive media appearances, and was featured in the Congressional forum on the Downing Street Minutes. She recently appeared on Democracy Now and told a horrific story about her meeting with George Bush - the sort of "meet the widders and mourn with them" PR stunt that he often brags about in his speeches when he's unsuccessfully attempting to convey empathy for the families of the soldiers whose lives he so recklessly ended.

She recently did a print interview about this meeting, and it exposes the empty shell of a wrecked soul that our "war president" really is.

So when Sheehan received an invitation to meet privately with President Bush at the White House two months after her son died, the least she could have expected was a bit of compassion or a kind word coming from the heart.

But what she encountered was an arrogant man with eyes lacking the slightest bit of compassion, a President totally "detached from humanity" and a man who didn’t even bother to remember her son’s name when they were first introduced.

Instead of a kind gesture or a warm handshake, Sheehan said she immediately got a taste of Bush arrogance when he entered the room and "in a condescending tone and with a disgusting loud Texas accent," said: "Who we’all honorin’ here today?"

"His mouth kept moving, but there was nothing in his eyes or anything else about him that showed me he really cared or had any real compassion at all. This is a human being totally disconnected from humanity and reality. His eyes were empty, hollow shells and he was acting like I should be proud to just be in his presence when it was my son who died for his illegal war! It was one of the most disgusting experiences I ever had and it took me almost a year to even talk about it," said Sheehan in a telephone conversation from Washington D.C. where she was attending a July 4th anti-war rally.

Sheehan said the June 2004 private meeting with the President went from bad to worse to a nightmare when Bush acted like he didn’t even want to know her name. She said Bush kept referring to her as ‘Ma’ or ‘Mom’ while he "put on a phony act," saying things like ‘Mom, I can’t even imagine losing a loved one, a mother or a father or a sister or a brother.’

"The whole meeting was simply bizarre and disgusting, designed to intimidate instead of providing compassion. He didn’t even know our names," said Sheehan. "Finally I got so upset I just looked him in the eye, saying ‘I think you can imagine losing someone. You have two daughters. Imagine losing them?’ After I said that he just looked at me, looked at me with no feeling or caring in his eyes at all."

Sheehan said what really upset her about the meeting is that Bush appeared to become annoyed and even angry at her daughter Carley, 25, who also attended the White House get-together.

"My daughter said to him directly ‘I wish I could bring my loved one back’ and he said something like ‘so do we.’ Later she told me that after he made his remark he gave her one of the filthiest looks she had ever had gotten in her life.

"I just couldn’t believe this was happening. It was so surreal and bizarre. Later I met with some of the other 15 or 16 families who were at the White House the same day and, sure enough, they all felt the same way I did.

"It’s interesting that they put us each in separate rooms. I heard this was done to prevent any type of group outburst and since it’s easier to control a situation when people are separated. Looking back, all I can say is that the meeting with Bush was one of the most disgusting experiences in my life. "

I saw Sheehan on Hardball a couple of weeks ago. She appeared immediately after a segment with former Bush speechwriter David Frum, who had enraged me when he implied that anti-war protesters were "crazy". Before Sheehan began her interview, she took Frum down for his comment in a perfectly devastating manner. I was so impressed I wrote to her organization thanking her for the interview and for correcting Frum's shockingly un-American neocon spin. I was surprised when, a couple of days later, I got an email back from an AOL account I wasn't familiar with - it was Sheehan herself thanking me for my support and urging me to continue this fight against the war. Very classy. She travels the country speaking out against this war, and any money you can contribute to GSFP keeps her in the fight. Please help if you can.


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