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August 16, 2005
Defending Michelle

This week, we have seen one of the biggest blogosphere meltdowns in recent days over the criticism of Cindy Sheehan. I have studiously avoided this topic, because as I advised another blogger (who didn't take my advice), I felt that this was one story where no one could possibly win a debate. I still feel that way.

One of the first bloggers to criticize Cindy Sheehan was Michelle Malkin. Michelle provides fearless commentary on any number of topics, and she can get it wrong sometimes; her fearlessness makes her more vulnerable for criticism, since it usually puts her out in front of everyone else. Michelle has long experience with hostility and criticism and has one of the thickest skins in the blogosphere, so she doesn't necessarily need anyone jumping to her defense, but in this case, people have lost their minds.

Cindy Sheehan has every right to protest George Bush or anyone else. She hasn't broken any laws, nor has she encouraged others to do so. When she does so, especially when generating so much publicity for herself and her own radical statements, she has lost any claim as a private citizen -- and that means people like Michelle have every right to criticize her. In fact, when Sheehan makes statements that brings Michael Moore and David Duke together, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that Sheehan has opened herself to well-deserved rebuttals and criticisms, as have the leeches like Randi Rhodes who have flocked to Texas to glean the leavings of the media spotlight for their own commercial purposes.

Michelle isn't immune from criticism, either, as she would be the first to tell you. However, the name-calling and personal attacks coming from the blogosphere reflect very little on her and a hell of a lot more on those who spout it. It started before she linked to Sheehan's divorce papers -- a decision I think was poor, but one which hardly was unique. Almost every news service has done the same, including this CBS story which uses it to generate sympathy for Sheehan. It has become exponentially worse since then, and from people who should know better. And no, it isn't the same thing as digging into sealed adoption records, because (a) divorce filings are public, (b) the Sheehans are both adults, and (c) Cindy Sheehan has repeatedly invoked her family in support of her cause, especially and obviously Casey ... who, by the way, made an adult decision to enlist and re-enlist in the service.

For those inclined to criticize Michelle, go back and actually read what she's written about Sheehan. You'll find it critical but not personal, and that Michelle has tried to temper that criticism of Sheehan with some understanding of her grief. She has saved her most potent criticism for those who have exploited her grief and anger, not for Sheehan herself. People need to quit treating Sheehan like some porcelain doll. If she doesn't want to get criticism, she should stop conducting her ludicrous publicity stunt in Crawford. However, neither she nor Michelle deserve sexist and racist namecalling for exercising their right to free speech.

One last point: We did not elect George Bush our mourner-in-chief. No president has ever been held to a standard that he has to meet with every Gold Star mother who wants an audience even once, let alone unlimited access as the media and half the blogosphere demands with Bush. I don't recall seeing media demands for Jack Kennedy to meet with every family that had a family member killed or captured in the Bay of Pigs fiasco, nor did LBJ and Nixon have people wondering how often they met with KIA/MIA families during Viet Nam. It's an insipid standard made even more pointless by the fact that Bush has already met with Sheehan. If she was left dissatisfied with the meeting, it's a shame, but we elected Bush to run the country and not to serve at Cindy Sheehan's beck and call.

UPDATE: Patterico gets results, John Cole gets classy; let's hope this sets a trend.

Sphere It results, John Cole gets classy; let's hope this sets a trend.&topic=politics"> Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 16, 2005 12:00 PM

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» Cindy Sheehan from The Politicker
I have stayed out of this discussion, and will continue to do so. This will be my only post on the subject, and it is merely to say that Captain Ed has rendered me speechless with his thoughts on the... [Read More]

Tracked on August 16, 2005 1:23 PM

» Cindy Sheehan and Pain from SOCIOECONOMICS
Captain Ed wrote an article today in defense of Michelle Malkin. It was a nice thing to do, of course. Friends do friends favors, don't they?... [Read More]

Tracked on August 16, 2005 3:41 PM

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