Saturday, August 27, 2005

Who supports the grieving mother?

Did you see this picture? It was from a photo diary on Cindy’s website, and also on Fox News.

Cindy sitting pretty with her personal foot masseuse.

Now I don’t want to focus too harshly on what is likely just a guy doing something nice, but it causes me to wonder who else she has in support there.

I mean, we read about Camp Casey and hear about it, but we rarely see it, or the support staff that runs it. It, as I discovered is fairly extensive. They have doctors, lawyers, attorneys, mail sorters etc, some out of Crawford House, and some at the camp.

And that's cool, when people believe in something, they want to support it. Good for them.

But I had heard mention of other support, things like media management and consultants, people screening the press etc...So I wondered who they are, who supports her with money and advice and political management. Let's be honest, it's a slick operation down there, with press reports, and interviews ans such.

So I wondered who supports her and ABC7 in San Francisco kindly provided the answer (hat tip to Mike F). So here is a list of who is now standing behind her protest.

PR Machine Behind Cindy Sheehan?

Aug. 25 - With the President back at his Crawford ranch, the anti-war protest right outside his ranch is getting a lot more media attention. ABC7 looks at who is financing the operation and who's providing on-the-ground support.

The camp at Crawford is full of Cindy Sheehan supporters, people from all walks of life, but off to the side are a small group of professionals skilled in politics and public relations who are marketing Cindy Sheehan's message.

Cindy Sheehan kneels before a cross with her son's name on it, touches his picture, wipes her tears. It's an outpouring of emotion that is part of a scheduled news event organized daily for the television, radio and print reporters who crowd in to capture a mother's grief.

Cindy Sheehan: "I'm never going to see him again, I'm never going to hold him again, I'm never going to hear his voice again."

Sheehan's message hasn't changed since she got here, but the support staff interested in getting that message out to the world has grown considerably.

Organizers are set up in a house trailer. Their meetings closed to reporters.

Leading the group is Fenton Communications employee, Michele Mulkey, based in San Francisco. Fenton specializes in public relations for liberal non-profits.

Their bills are being paid for by True Majority, a non-profit set up by Ben Cohen -- of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream fame.

Ben Cohen, True Majority: "People are willing to listen to her and we want to do as much as we can to make her voice heard."

Cohen's group has teamed up with Berkeley based, an anti-Bush group co-founded by Joan Blades.

Earlier this month, MoveOn helped organize anti-war vigils in support of Cindy Sheehan.

Current Democratic National Party Chair Howard Dean's organization Democracy for America is also involved, as is the more radical anti-war group Code Pink organized by San Francisco's Medea Benjamin.

Money donated through these groups and others is helping to pay for Gold Star families whose children have been killed in Iraq to attend anti-Bush protests.

This week Simi Valley California Gold Star wife Melanie House flew to Idaho for a protest and then flew to Crawford.

ABC7's Mark Matthews: "Can you tell us if you're getting help in airfare to come down here?"

Melanie House: "What difference does that make?"

There is real reluctance to talk about who's paying, and the P.R. machine that's promoting Cindy Sheehan, but not everyone here is completely comfortable with it.

Gold Star mother Karen Meredith came here from Mountain View. Her son Ken Ballard died last year.

Karen Meredith, Gold Star mother: "Sometimes things don't feel quite right to me. They don't feel wrong, but maybe that's how they do it in the marketing business."

ABC7's Mark Matthews: "You feel you're part of a marketing business?"

Karen Meredith: "Possibly. Yeah I think so."

On the other side, pro-Bush supporters are getting on the ground to help reiterate their message. and came back to the same Iowa-based conservative public policy organization, an organization with ties to the Republican National Committee.

There is also the "Cindy you don't speak for me tour," a caravan of military wives and mothers led by Deborah Johns of Roseville. Her son William is a marine who has served two tours of duty in Iraq.

Johns and her supporters are traveling to Crawford to confront Cindy Sheehan.

Deborah Johns, caravan leader: "It means everything for me to be here, to see the support. We're so proud of him."

The caravan is getting a lot of help from It's a non-profit organization co-chaired by former state assemblyman Howard Koologian. Koologian is a Republican who takes credit for launching the recall against Governor Gray Davis. His co-chair is KSFO Radio talk show host Melanie Morgan. The group's PR firm is led by a veteran California political strategist and the firm claims clients running from a county supervisor to President of the United States.

So it appears that the grass roots beginning of this has been usurped by the left wing political machine, and of course to be fair, the counter protests are beginning to receive support in kind.

To me it cheapens the whole idea of the grieving mom crying to be heard, because she is being reduced to being nothing more then another Democratic shill.

She may indeed have started this sincerely, but it seems in her zeal she has sold out to partisan politics. And her supporters are not concerned with peace, they are continuing a 5 year old campaign to destroy Bush, and (as has been quoted before) she is the human bazooka they are launching this time.

Ben Cohen’s Comments says it all for me:

"People are willing to listen to her and we want to do as much as we can to make her voice heard."

That is exactly what is going on. As long as people will listen, they will prop her up, stand behind her, support her and feed her sound bytes to the nightly news.

But, in my opinion, when her 15 minutes are up and her message is no longer fresh, they will be on their way, to prop up the next person people are willing to listen to.