Flashback: Cindy Sheehan for President

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

"When I heard the name Cindy Sheehan," says DeBar, the Ossining activist, "I thought, great."

Last month, DeBar, himself a former Green Party candidate, proposed a Draft Sheehan effort on a Green message board. Unlike some Greens who are pushing a Sheehan for President initiative, DeBar wants to see her move from her home state of California to run against Clinton in the New York primary next year. That way, he writes in his post, "she could force a seismic shift in the direction of the Democratic Party."

Activists see obvious potential in Sheehan. The movement's icon did, after all, rescue anti-war activists from hibernation, breathing new life into their cause from the moment she set up her bivouac at Camp Casey. At the Brooklyn Peace Fair, hordes of fans flocked to her as she descended the platform, lining up for pictures, praising her speech, offering to escort her if she ever comes back to town. After Sheehan signed the back of a postcard with "Peace, Cindy," an ebullient middle-aged woman produced it, repeatedly, for all to see.

Besides, she has proven to be astute politically, as evidenced by anyone who has seen her work a crowd. At a recent vigil of Grandmothers Against the War, she pressed the flesh with dozens of aging activists, shaking each hand, thanking each volunteer, just like any politician.

"Cindy would be the perfect foil," DeBar says, "because everyone knows who she is." Activists wouldn't expect Sheehan to win in '08, or even in '06, not with Clinton's formidable war chest and high polling numbers. But she could garner enough support next year—5 or 10 percent—to dip into the senator's vote margin and thus send a message.

Now, if only Sheehan would buy into the argument. "I love your state, but I don't think I want to move here and run for the Senate," she tells the Voice. "I know you can. I know that's what Hillary Clinton did. But I don't know . . . " she says.

What all this agitation means for Clinton is anyone's guess. Her aides say the senator respects the views of anti-war activists. But at the same time, her constituents elected her to apply her best judgment and do what's in the national interest. Do anti-war Democrats want to pick a fight with a senator who at least champions their other causes?

"I plan on voting for Hillary Clinton next year," says Kenneth Barr of Inwood, one of the 70 protesters outside the senator's office last week. As much as he disagrees with her on Iraq, he explains, "I still can't be a one-issue person."

Others like Finley, who laud the senator's record on reproductive rights, are following Sheehan. "What's the alternative for us?" she asks, then answers: "You don't pull the lever."

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