NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd has weighed in on the issue, commenting on Bush's "meta-insulation" from the ordinary humans whose lives are so drastically affected by his policies. I've taken the liberty of posting a message I received from Vietnam Veterans Against the War/Veterans For Peace describing their efforts of Ms Sheehan's behalf.
A sign of how desperate the Bush Administration is to limit the political damage is that an article was published by Drudge quoting Cindy Sheehan and her family making pro-Bush statements after the family had first met with him, reviving the charge (First made against John Kerry) of an opponent of the President being a "flip-flopper". Bush's team was alleged by a lefty blogger of doing "oppo research".
"'I now know he's sincere about wanting freedom for the Iraqis,' Cindy said after their meeting. 'I know he's sorry and feels some pain for our loss. And I know he's a man of faith.'
"The meeting didn't last long, but in their time with Bush, Cindy spoke about Casey and asked the president to make her son's sacrifice count for something. They also spoke of their faith.
But, hold the presses, it appears that this item did not originate with the White House, but from a group of intrepid bloggers:
I spoke with the news desks of Reuters, AP, Fox, CNN and The Sacremento Bee Saturday night and Sunday morning. None of them knew about the first meeting Sheehan had with President Bush last year and asked me to e-mail the information, which I did. I also e-mailed The NY Times with the info after reading Richard Stevenson's first article about Sheehan.
With the exception of Reuters (which appeared to have given Steve Holland the day off on Sunday) they all added to their stories that Sheehan had met previously with Bush. However, none of them challenged Sheehan on her wildly differing versions of that meeting.
AP's Deb Riechmann appears to have at least asked her, but didn't use any of The Reporter's quotes. Instead she let Sheehan get away with saying she was in shock at the time of the meeting.
We sent The Reporter story to Drudge last night during his radio show and he picked up on it on the air. He also allowed me on the show to talk about it. I told him that Cindy Sheehan used to have photos on her Website of her and President Bush and her family from that meeting in 2004 but that the photos were now delinked. However, the captions were still there as of Saturday night.
It was really appalling yesterday to watch Wolf Blitzer let Sheehan get away with her horrid description of her meeting with Bush when CNN's Washington bureau had The Reporter article in their hands Sunday morning.
The media is treating her as a sainted mother rather than as the hardcore leftist agitator she has become.
So, clearly someone was doing oppo research on the grieving mother of a dead soldier, it's just not entirely clear who.
UPDATE: A fellow congregant pointed out that it's not at all unusual for people to change their minds over time and as they gain new information, insights, etc. Media Matters also parses the story and finds that (Surprise, surprise!) Sheehan's feelings towards Bush upon her first meeting with him are a good deal more complicated than Drudge made them sound.