Monday, August 15, 2005

"First Let Me Say..."

First let me say, that it gives me a little thrill in a kind of "Ralphie Beating Up Scut Farkus" way to see conservatives in a position to say, "First let me say..."

After all, the "Blame America First" folks on the left and right had their chance after 9-11 when they said, "First let me say that I sympathize with everyone who has lost someone in this tragedy, but..." The anti-war crowd had a go with it in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, with "First let me say that I think Saddam is a brutal dictator, but..."

So now it's the conservatives' turn, and what they're saying is: "First let me say that I sympathize with Cindy Sheehan for the tragedy of losing her son in the war, but..." And then go on to contend that 1) the "liberal" media has featured this woman at the top of every newscast every night, and 2) that they're doing it to make the president look bad.

I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and say that perhaps they are watching a different network newscast than I am. In my house, we generally watch ABC, NBC or CBS. Perhaps they're watching some type of NPR television network that I've never heard of.

On the TV newscasts that I've seen, Ms. Sheehan hasn't been the first or second story, but somewhere in the middle of the newscast. I can distinctly remember this exchange between my husband and myself as we first glimpsed Ms. Sheehan on the Nightly News last Tuesday night:

Hubby: That's when the tide started turning with public opinion on Viet Nam...when Gold Star Mothers started returning their Gold Stars.

Me: It's a quarter to seven. Are we ordering out or what?

Also, as far as trying to make the president look bad, I'm sorry to say that regardless of the ability of the media to put a spin on a story, this particular commander in chief has often had a way of accomplishing this without their help. And I say this (first) as someone who has never been a gratuitous Bush Basher. (And not because I'm a fan of the guy or I'm particularly fair-minded, but because I'm a snob and nothing so easy could ever touch me.)

Conversely, I've noted liberal bloggers, commenters on blogs and members of at least one liberal e-mail list I'm on remark that the "mainstream" media is trying to make Ms. Sheehan look like a left-wing wack job. Again, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt that they may have been watching a different newscast than I, and maybe a different newscast than the conservatives, since they're calling the media something different.

My own snap judgment of Ms. Sheehan was that she would have more cred with Mainstream, America if she hadn't arrived at the Western White House in a bus with a sign that said "Impeachment Tour." It made her look like one of the Merry Pranksters. People see that and they figure, it's the same kind of people who've been protesting the war since Day One. It doesn't change anyone's mind. (It also doesn't give anyone a clue as to what we should do about our involvement in Iraq, but don't be silly, nobody knows that.)

Second, I was always taught when I was a kid that appearances count. Standing vigil in t-shirt and jeans and unkempt hair just reinforces people's ideas that anti-war protestors should not be taken seriously.

So I would suggest a makeover for Ms. Sheehan. Sure, cotton is more breathable when you're out in the 100-degree Texas heat, but they're doing marvelous things with synthetics these days, and Ann Taylor has some lovely transitional pantsuits.

Of course, with a pantsuit and a new hairstyle, the O'Reillyniks will be quick to point out Ms. Sheehan's resemblance to "feminazi" Hillary Clinton. But you can't please those people anyway, unless you're handing them a big steaming platter of Diced Anyone Who Disagrees With Them.

Seriously, an Ann Taylor pantsuit. I have coupons.

P.S. About the "snap judgment" thing, amba of Ambivablog has made the same observation in the "Comments" section of The Mighty Middle. Maybe we're getting the same channel.

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