Cindy Sheehan is back in Crawford, Texas, resuming her demands to see President Bush, who himself is facing declining poll numbers. Are attitudes toward the war reaching what Americans like to call “a tipping point”? And if so, has Sheehan had anything to do with it?
Tracey Metry is not a “Gold Star Mom for Peace.” She’s not protesting in Texas, but Cindy Sheehan's got her thinking. “It’s really important that in this day and age that we question things that don’t seem right to us,” says Metry.
Sheehan, say some historians, may be evolving as an icon in the war’s turning point — if this is one.
For three weeks, Sheehan has dominated headlines and mobilized protesters. Sheehan's taking a stand for Americans with and without relatives in Iraq. Supporters say her presence helps make it safe to voice doubts about the war.
“I think that’s it's is possible that somehow, her protest and her vigil will make more people empathize with the casualties then they have previously done so,” says presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.
This isn’t Vietnam, of course. There’s no military draft to spark campus violence. But the dynamic is similar: two sides, clustering around the “unassailable” — military families— either arguing to bring the troops home, or warning that doubtingthe troops’ mission is what Vietnam taught us not to do.
Kathy Schrodel was inspired to protest against Sheehan. “I have got to join this caravan. She’s saying America’s not worth dying for. What kind of a statement is that?” she asks.
“Cindy Sheehan’s protest drives us to a Vietnam-type state of fatigue,” says Howard Kaloogian of Move America Forward.
And Sheehan’s legacy as an icon may be limited by this: while a majority of Americans call the war a “mistake,” fewer than one in five say bringing troops home now is the answer.
It’s exactly how John Bejarano feels. A Republican who feels misled about Iraq, he says, “to leave now would just simply doom it to failure.”
Historians say we won’t know Cindy Sheehan’s place in the war until the war, itself is history. And whether you agree with her or not, her sitting and waiting for one conversation has unleashed another.