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Monday, November 3, 2008

The Audacity of (No) Hope: Cindy Sheehan's Quixotic Quest

Posted By on Mon, Nov 3, 2008 at 6:00 AM

No matter what, we’ll have Cindy Sheehan to kick around for the foreseeable future.

By Joe Eskenazi

I wasn’t surprised when Cindy Sheehan recently offered the sage wisdom “Throw your fuckin’ TV out the window.” But I must admit I was surprised when Sheehan started showing up on my fuckin’ TV.

If Sheehan really does want us to abuse our televisions, broadcasting her commercials may be the best way to get the job done.

I’m not sure anyone can proudly cast their vote for Nancy Pelosi this time around. But if it comes to voting for a hack or a clown, I’m going to have to go with the hack. Because as objectionable and spineless as many of Pelosi’s positions have been, she is, at the very least, a competent politician who can deliver for the hometown and handle the day-to-day work of government – It comes as naturally to her as breathing. Also, let’s not forget, she’s third in line to assume the presidency.

Glancing at Sheehan’s position statements, however, I’m not reassured she’ll remember to breathe. Forget Congress -- her platform seems better suited to engineer one’s election to the Berkeley Rent Board. Take, for example:

1. Sheehan supports a massive drive to finance public transportation. That’s good. But she proposes supporting it via “the nationalization of the oil, gas and other energy companies.” Sorry, this is not Zimbabwe. Forcibly nationalizing businesses is the kind of position statement best shouted through a bullhorn, not enunciated in Congress.

2. On a similar bent, she proposes that the United States “must” build a system of bullet trains linking “all parts of the country” (even Rapid City, South Dakota?). And how shall this be accomplished? “The auto assembly plants could be converted into plants that build the trains and infrastructure needed for rebuilding our energy and transportation systems and therefore our country.” Aggressive nationalization of many of the nation’s largest businesses seems to be a recurring theme here. In fact, Sheehan even proposes to nationalize the media, per se. Local councils will be created that will force media outlets to cover local issues. Give me C-SPAN or give me death!

3. Sheehan, who has described our current financial crisis as being a result of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush “leveraging things,” derides the massive economic bailout. Her alternative, however, leaves much to be desired – especially when she relies upon redirecting the “trillions of dollars” being “poured into the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations.” Roughly $800 billion has been spent on both wars since 2001, but you’re not getting that money back without the aid of a time machine. In reality, we’re spending about $144 billion a year on both wars – not chump change, but only 14 percent of a trillion.

4. Finally, Sheehan laments that “most of our budget” is being consumed by our misbegotten wars. Not surprisingly, this is demonstrably false; we spend about 771 billion a year on defense and the war out of our $2.9 trillion budget. That’s about 25 percent. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a shitload of money -- but it’s not “most.” Sorry to nitpick, but if you’re going to run for Congress, I think you should sit down and do five minutes worth of math.

But let’s say that you glance up and down Sheehan’s priorities list and that this stuff sits well with you. Nationalize away! Still, can you honestly argue that Cindy Sheehan is going to be able to get anything – anything – accomplished in Congress, as one of 435 representatives? Does Sheehan strike you as someone who works well in groups? Who compromises well? Who prioritizes? Do you look at Cindy Sheehan and think, “There’s someone I want deciding my fate. There’s someone I want to tell me what to do.”?

This gets to the heart of why Sheehan is running for higher office at all. Really, why isn’t she running for the Rent Board or some smaller office that she actually would have a chance to win and could utilize to enact some real change? And why isn’t she doing it in a town where she actually resided (before moving into a rented flat in a Mission home owned by a member of Code Pink, Sheehan lived in Dixon; prior to that she lived many years in Vacaville)?

The answer to that question reveals why it’s so damn funny Sheehan advised us to defenestrate our TVs. A former Media Creation making people’s lives better in a small way in her hometown doesn’t get much press, save the occasional “Where are they now?” story. But throwing down with the Speaker of the House in a political suicide mission? Roll tape!

Sadly, it seems Sheehan has stolen Ralph Nader’s campaign strategy and is making a long-term, low-return investment in politics. She’s apparently plunked down a one-year lease for her San Francisco campaign office. So, even after election day, she’ll still be here, playing for the camera and getting on our fuckin’ TVs.

It appears we’ll have Cindy Sheehan to kick around for quite some time yet.

Photo illustration | Janine Kahn

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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