Flashback: Cindy Sheehan for President

With ‘Peace Mom’ absent from Crawford arrests, protesters carry out civil-disobedience plans

 Editor’s note:

Cindy Sheehan had to be away for a family emergency, but a dozen of her allies still managed to get arrested on Wednesday for setting up an anti-war camp outside President George Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas.

The protesters, who want the troops out of Iraq, made good on Sheehan’s promise to conduct a campaign of civil disobedience.

As reported in the Guardian:

The arrests were made by more than two dozen deputies who calmly approached the demonstrators in their tents and asked if they wanted to walk out on their own or be carried. Two chose to be carried. They were to be taken to jail for booking.
Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan wasn't among the protesters Wednesday because of a family emergency in California, but she planned to be at the camp later in the week.
”We are proud to be here,” Dede Miller, Sheehan's sister, said hours before her arrest as she huddled in a blanket at the campsite. “This is just so important. What we did in August really moved us forward, and this is just a continuation of it.”

But the push against the war in Iraq isn’t the only campaign going. As reporter Kristen Lombardi wrote on November 1, the anti-war left is searching for a candidate to challenge Hillary Clinton—either for Senate in 2006, or for president if she runs in 2008. Could that candidate be Cindy Sheehan? Judge for yourself.

Cindy Sheehan for President
Or Senate. The anti-war left seeks a challenger for Hillary Clinton
By Kristen Lombardi
November 1, 2005

Cindy Sheehan, a/k/a the "peace mom," probably never intended to sound like a candidate, but she did. Sheehan, the activist who became the face of anti-war sentiment after camping outside President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, last summer, had just mounted the podium at the Brooklyn Peace Fair on October 22. And already she was getting political.

"Maybe later we'll talk about your senators," she said, provoking a wave of booing and hissing from the 200-plus crowd. Sheehan, whose 24-year-old son Casey was killed in Iraq in April 2004, was referring to both of New York's "pro-war Democrats," as she calls them. But many in the audience assembled at the Brooklyn YWCA focused on just one: Hillary Clinton, the one who's up for re-election next year, the one who's believed to have her eye on the White House as well.

"Where is Hillary!" shouted an audience member from the back of the hall. The crowd, mostly members of local anti-war groups, went wild with applause, waving posters that read "Hillary Speak Out" and "We ♥ Cindy." Another audience member chimed in, "We love you, Cindy!"

They'd taken a cue from their newfound leader, Sheehan, who has plenty of fighting words for New York's junior senator these days. She first blasted Clinton for backing the Iraq invasion on October 16, writing a scathing article posted on several progressive websites. Sheehan described her as "a political animal who believes she has to be a war hawk to keep up with the big boys." Unless the senator pushes for pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq, Sheehan wrote, "I will resist [her presidential] candidacy with every bit of my power and strength."

Sheehan repeated these sentiments as she hopped from anti-war vigils to call-in radio shows during a week-long visit to New York City last month. In Brooklyn, she reminded the crowd of her efforts to "call out the pro-war Democrats," explaining, "Hillary Clinton is the leader of the pack."

She then offered up a challenge, urging activists to withhold their support for the popular senator unless she comes around. "It's time to tell your elected officials, 'If you're not with us, you're against us,' " Sheehan said, "and if you're against us, we'll vote you out of office. "

Five days later, New Yorkers who oppose the Iraq war began heeding Sheehan's advice. Some 70 activists gathered outside Clinton's midtown office on the day after American casualties in Iraq hit the grim 2,000 mark. The activists read names of the U.S. fallen and lit candles in their honor.

Carolyn Eisenberg, of Brooklyn Parents for Peace, which sponsored the peace fair, says the action represents just the beginning. "The peace movement here will be doing all it can to get in the senator's way," she adds. Already, there is talk of coordinating protests and sit-ins at all nine of Clinton's district offices. There is talk of seeking an anti-war candidate to take her on next year. There is even talk of drafting Cindy Sheehan, a bit of wishful thinking that, if anything, reflects the level of frustration.

"People are very frustrated that Senator Clinton isn't really addressing this war," Eisenberg says. And so, she adds, they aim to send her a message: "If she positions herself as a hawk, she will find her support among Democrats slipping."

That the anti-war movement has set its sights on Clinton is nothing new. New York activists have long tried to gain their junior senator's ear—lobbying aides, dropping off peace flyers, forming the occasional picket line. One Albany-based group known as Women Against War even took to making what founder Jeanne Finley calls "a cinema vérité film," featuring individual members enumerating why they oppose her position on the Iraq invasion.

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