The Bitch in the Ditch vs. ''General Betray Us''
By Captain Eric H. May
"Catapult the Propaganda"
"See in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda." -- George W. Bush
When I joined the trenches -- or rather the ditches -- of Camp Casey in mid-August of 2005, there was no political reaction to the abuse already being heaped upon Cindy Sheehan. The Senate that just Thursday condemned the free expression that Bush's general would betray us was silent when the rhetoric ran the other way. The TV talking heads who now universally decry the choice of words by the left had no problem when the right used much more choice words to attack the peace mom.
Grieving for her lost son, she had lain down in front of the presidential ranch in Crawford, as devastated as Job, demanding a simple answer to a simple question: Why? It was not dignified grief -- if there can be such a thing -- but neither was it deranged. Nevertheless, Sheehan was reviled as "the bitch in the ditch" by the rigid right. She was decried as a new Hanoi Jane Fonda who was trying to trip the nation up as it planted its feet firmly from Afghanistan to Iraq. She was said to be betraying our national destiny to bestride the Muslim world like a conquering Judeo-Christian Colossus. Her marriage and family circumstances were dredged up and poured out in public.
With all the reporters running around in Crawford during that summer vacation, it's peculiar that they missed the story of the right-wing counterattack against the peaceniks at Camp Casey. It happened on Saturday, August 27, in a well organized pincer movement of buses from both coasts, filled with self righteous Republican shock troops.
I had been attending Crawford protest events since August, 2003, the first summer of the Iraq war. I was well accustomed to counter protests, as well as to the resentment of some of the Crawford locals who were conducting a lively business for pilgrims to the Western White House. The anti-Sheehan crowd wasn't anything like a counter protest, though, nor was it merely resentful. It was a riot waiting to happen.
"So Long As I'm the Dictator"
"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." -- George W. Bush
Robert Noe was there, the perfect picture of a Bush League thug. History is fortunate to have the candid memoir of the former Green Beret, who boasts of having led a "hatchet platoon" (widely accused of atrocities) in Vietnam. His "patriotic" actions in Crawford included running around in search of pro-peace traitors. He screamed and gestured obscenely at the Camp Casey crowd; later he cursed the Crawford Peace House; and later still he called out a busload of peaceniks to fight. Most of the time he carried an American flag, as if his conduct represented it; but he found this frustrating as the people he was accusing of treason were constantly applauding it. Those who claim that the left is stooping low with its rhetoric should read his "Anti- Anti War Cidny (sic) Protest" http://www.macvsog.cc/anti-anti_war_cidny_protest.htm
Many self-styled heroes like Captain Noe came to do battle for the glory of global war that day. Several dozen stood at the main crossroads of the town, waving flags when their partisans drove by, and shooting fingers when their opponents did. Clusters of bullies picked fights where ever they saw the antiwar gathering, no doubt emboldened because the antiwar shrugged it off and refused to fight.
I was born and raised in Texas, and have to admit that I hadn't seen a crowd anything like this pro-war mob since the Houston race riots of the 1970s. Candidly, until that weekend, I never knew that a group made up mostly of Yankees could imitate the worst side of us southern rednecks so well. The national media, Bush's camp followers in Crawford, sanitized the unsavory traces of neocon neofascism from the picture, and presented the story without telling it at all -- which has become the hallmark of the contemporary journalistic art.
By Sunday, Aug. 28, their forces had left the field after their one-day foray, and Camp Casey continued with pick-me-up appearances by the likes of Joan Baez and Charlie Sheen. Having withstood the assault, the antiwar side was stronger after the challenge than it had been before it. Under siege throughout his summer vacation, King George had avoided the field of battle and kept to his Crawford Castle, like Peter Pan in Neverland. He never did answer Cindy Sheehan's challenge to tell her why her son had died. He couldn't, of course, because by 2005 he had already offered a variety of contradictory reasons for the war, all of them repeated mindlessly to a semi-conscious public by a parrot press. His reticence turned out to be good practice, since he spent the next week keeping mum as New Orleans drowned from Katrina and a military/mercenary crew practiced martial law on the victims.
"Give My Chance a Plan"
"And so, what Gen. Petraeus is saying, some early signs, still dangerous, but give me -- give my chance a plan to work." -- George W. Bush
Without a doubt, George W. Bush is the dumbest president in US history. His critics debate whether his mind is congenitally afflicted or self-impaired by decades of alcohol and drug abuse. Our opinions are unspeakable to the mainstream media, of course. In times of tyranny, unspeakable opinions tend to be correct ones.
Our cheerleader in chief couldn't have picked a better representative of his unsavory character than General David Petraeus, who I think was quite aptly termed "General Betray Us" by MoveOn.org in a full-page ad, published Sept. 10 in the New York Times. Bush knew that he could count on his general to make the best case for a war that is ever growing worse. After all, the general had done it before. In 2004, just days before the presidential election, Petraeus published "Battling for Iraq" in the Washington Post, an op-ed lauding Bush's Iraq war pooh-pooh as if it were shoe polish. Bush had every reason to be confident when he ordered the same Petraeus to give the same pooh-to-polish effort, this time to a sold-out House and a sold-out Senate.
The mainstream media made the most it could out of the general's song and dance routine, and strenuously avoided covering his flaws. They glossed over his slip of saying that he did not know whether the Iraq war was making the United States any safer. They didn't repeat the unkind remarks of his superior, CENTCOM Commander Admiral William Fallon, who had called him "an ass kissing little chicken shit." They conveniently forgot about the suspicious death of the West Point ethics professor, Colonel Ted Westhusing, serving under Petraeus in Iraq, who had been shot in the head after confronting the general for careerism and the mercenary USIS corporation for corruption. They downplayed the fact that two of the seven Iraq war noncoms who co-authored an Aug. 19 New York Times anti-surge op-ed, "The War As We Saw It," were killed on the very day that Petraeus came before Congress.
In the two weeks since Petraeus brought his sorry show to Washington, the Democrat-led Senate has shown that its character is about the same as the general's. They have betrayed us, too. They have failed in their faint-hearted attempts to extract our country from the quicksand war in Iraq. They have failed to throw down the gauntlet by forcing pro-war Republicans to filibuster in order to continue a lost war. In fact, they have succeeded in only one thing, and that is much to their shame: by a vote of 72-25, they condemned the General Betray Us ad. I hope and believe that their cowardice will backfire on them. Donations to MoveOn.org have skyrocketed recently, and many Americans are having a hard time getting the general's name right. Yesterday, I saw two TV talking heads make the Freudian slip of calling Petraeus "Betray Us." If the shoe fits the general, then he must wear it -- and the Quisling Congress should try it on for size as well. As for "The Bitch in the Ditch" Sheehan, I hope the epithet sticks. It has every bit as much character as "Blood and Guts" Patton or "Stonewall" Jackson. War leaders -- and antiwar leaders -- earn their nicknames. In the summer of 2005 she showed us that it was time for the antiwar movement to get down and dirty in Crawford. Through it all we knew that it was the other side that was mired in the muck.
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Captain May is a former Army military intelligence and public affairs officer, as well as a former NBC editorial writer. His political and military analyses have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the Houston Chronicle and Military Intelligence Magazine. He was one of many veterans at Camp Casey, Crawford, in the summer of 2005, and is pictured at http://homepage.mac.com/kaaawa/iblog/C177199123/E20050823090852/ Five months ago The Lone Star Iconoclast published an interview with him about General Petraeus that has proved to be prescient:
A May Day Interview with Captain Eric H. May