Sheehan ‘n Sean

Posted by T on January 16, 2007

Cindy Sheehan appeared on Sean Hannity’s show today, and made mincemeat of him.

Cindy has now gone public with her suspicion that the Great 9-11 was done with complicity of neo-con forces.

Sean indignantly asked her for evidence.

So Cindy gave him evidence: the “coincidental” standing down of Norad.

So then Sean repeats his question, but with a twist: “do you have proof? No you don’t have proof.”

Sean, not all evidence constitutes, by itself, proof; that doesn’t mean it is not evidence.

Sean is the master equivocator and sleight-of-hand distractor.


A guy called in and when Sean saw who he was, bumped him to the front of the line, cutting someone else off. So it must have been someone important in Sean’s eyes.

The fellow’s point? that Cindy didn’t really “stay in a tent” at some demonstration in Crawford, Texas. Cindy denied the charge and I believe her.

But more important: as if that’s important, fellow!

A real cad.

Others called in and spouted the old cliché, that yes a world without war would be wonderful, but that’s not our world.

True, but that’s another distraction. Why are we killing Iraqis in this war?


Sean needs to share the blame with Rush for several things.

  1. Redefining conservatism as knee-jerk pro-war.
  2. Indeed, that being pro-war is the only non-negotiable to count as a conservative.
  3. The loss of belief in reason and law in justifying their position. Rhetorical tricks are fine if done in service to the neo-con war machine. The Right is becoming vulgar, unthinking, and party-spirited under the tutelage of Rush and Sean.


Though Cindy was quite magnificent, something needs to be said in criticism of her stated position as well.

She said we have no business waging this unjust war when people are starving in our own land.

Forget the minor premise (“there are starving people in America”). That’s not the issue here.

The major premise (“if people are starving then we have no business waging an unjust war”) opens up the possibility that waging an unjust war might be an option, provided no one is going hungry.

Of course she doesn’t mean that. But pushing an enthymeme whose major premise won’t stand up under scrutiny will weaken our position in the long run, even if it scores short-term points.


Why is Sean submitting to putting someone on that, overall, makes so much sense compared to him? when usually the “opponent” is just there to be an easily-bullied patsy?

I would worry a bit, if I were Cindy, that she is now experiencing the “good cop” handling. The neo-cons would rather lure the restive colts back into the pen — get them to scamper in voluntarily –, rather than, right off the bat, putting bullets into their heads.

10 Comments to Sheehan ‘n Sean

  • Isn’t the NORAD evidence that NORAD failed to respond in a timely manner? (not that it actually stood down) And that it responded poorly when it did respond?
    Is there any evidence that NORAD has ever timely and appropriately responded to any airborne threat?
    Isn’t general bureaucratic incompetency an adequate explanation for the serious delays in and devations from following the FAA’s and NORAD’s guidelines?
    Even if you just have a link to some web site that sets forth the evidence, that would be great. I have yet to see anything more than a listing of the raw number of times that NORAD scrambled fighters (which would tend to suggest that it was viewed as routine).

  • TF– I’ll try to get that info…

    however (and I see I wasn’t sufficiently clear here) the point of the interview was that Hannity did not dispute the fact of NORAD standing down; he simply spun it that that is not sufficient to prove that the neo-cons were culpable.

    Granted, more would need to be said to indict the neo-cons than NORAD alone. Sheehan was being synechdocal.

  • It’s obviously irrelevant to the Iraq issue that Sheehan is a leftist, that she (apparently) deserted her husband to bash Bush, that she opposes the death penalty (even, perhaps surprisingly, for Bush), that she favors women in the military (especially, apparently, Bush’s young daughters), and that she supports Communist dictator Chavez.

    She could be Satan himself, and still make good points.

    Personally, howver, I think that it is because she is such a radical leftist that Hannity chooses to bring her on his show. She takes indefensible positions (such as that the accidental, collateral killing of innocent civilians at the hands of U.S. soldiers is morally equivalent to the intentional slaughter of innocent civilians by Islamic terrorists), and she thereby provides an emotional reason for conservatives to support the war (if a communist/islamist sympathizer like Sheehan is against the war, it must be a good thing).

    Like Hannity’s tactic of asking for a single piece of evidence and then protesting that it does not constitute proof, Hannity’s tactic of selecting an extreme leftist to oppose Bush is also bad academic form.

    However, as you said, I suspect that a major aspect of Hannity’s tactic is to select opponents that are easy targets.

    The problem is, most conservatives are too smart to fall for the ad hominem argument, whether presented implicitly or explicitly (you didn’t really sleep in a tent, did you …).

    By choosing those tactics, Hannity moves himself out of the realm of serious discussion and into the realm of entertainment.

    Alternatively, Hannity may just be trying to give Sheehan a credibility boost so that Sheehan will be better able to undermine Clinton II’s presedential campaign. But I think the former explanation is the better one. Hannity doesn’t much care what Sheehan says, as long as it is Sheehan saying it.

    “You oppose the war? You and Sheehan, both!” That’s what Hannity wants to leave you with.


  • I would want to hear Mr. Sheehan complain that Mrs. deserted him, before I wd put stock in that.

    It’s unfortunate if she opposes the death penalty for Bush.

    Given her posture toward the war, I suspect supporting women in the military is largely ad hominem. Cal Thomas once pointed out that all the Presidents that have started wars in the last century had only daughters. Don’t know enough about their personal details to verify.

    I think we need to discuss further the issue of the moral equivalence of “accidental, collateral killing of innocent civilians at the hands of U.S. soldiers” and “intentional slaughter of innocent civilians by Islamic terrorists.” Just a few opening salvos:

    1. What if we call them “freedom fighters” rather than “terrorists.” What if the death of civilians turns out to be collateral to their real objective?

    2. Conversely, our soldiers have intentionally slaughtered civilians numerous times.

    3. Moreover, the 10’s of thousands (possibly 100’s of thousands) of civilian casualties cannot, I think, be so quickly written off as merely “collateral.” Since many of those deaths could have been anticipated, it is not clear that they can be written off as “not the real goal.” (But if they can, why can’t the “terrorists” do the same?) Moreover, it again begs the question of whether the war can be justified at all. If it is not, as we allege, then all those deaths are tantamount to murder. Just because the magistrate can justly wield the sword does not mean that whenever he wields the sword it is done justly.

  • Dear TJH,
    It’s public information that her husband filed for divorce in 2005, citing “irreconciliable differences.” A quick google can confirm that, if you like. It can also confirm that the man with whom she was (allegedly??) having an affair at the time was Lew Rockwell, another prominent anti-war personality (though of a more Libertarian bent, from what I’ve seen).

    As for your salvos:

    1A. Freedom fighters?? That would have credibility if they were only attacking the American forces. Setting off car bombs in downtown Baghdad (without warning), attacking Iraqi police recruiting stations, kidnapping foreign aid workers and journalists, beheading said kidnap victims, and so on are not reasonably part of freedom fighting.

    1B. Freedom from what? The repression of the recently elected Iraqi government? Is the new government unjustly oppressing the people of Iraq? I’ve yet to hear that argument.

    1C. Suggesting that the deaths of innocent civilians could be “collateral” to their real objective is equivocal at best. It may be the case in some instances, but the beheadings and most of the carbombings are not reasonably viewed as anything but intentional. Is it their primary objective? No – their primary objective is instability and civil war – and ultimately a fundamentalist Muslim state rivalling Iran. But viewing it as collateral because it is not the main point misses the distinction between collateral and intentional.

    1D. How are Egyptian (and other non-Iraqi) fighters blowing up police stations in Iraq, beheading Iraqi citizens, fighting for “freedom” in the normal sense of the word?

    2. “our soldiers have intentionally slaughtered civilians numerous times” That may be true. However:
    a) That clearly is not U.S. policy, it’s poor control of our troops when it happens.
    b) Those troops that do such things and are caught are punished.
    c) In contrast, those in the Islamist community who behead innocent civilians are lauded by their fellow terrorists, while being condemned by the Iraqi government against whom they are fighting.

    3) It’s not just that the civilian deaths are not the real goal, the U.S. military intentionally restrains itself in ways that are designed to minimize the number of civilian casualties. The question is not one of foreseeability, but of intentionality. Furthermore, the enormous number of civilian deaths that are normally bandied about on anti-war web sites typically include those civilians killed by the terrorists.

    Of your arguments, I found the (paraphrasing you) “If it’s an unjust war, then the deaths incurred are tantamount to murder” argument to be the most persuasive. However, that’s applicable to the deaths intentionally caused by the war (the death of the ING and the Hussein brothers), not – or at least not principally – to the unintentional collateral deaths.


  • TF –

    I take issue with you at several points, but will mention just one here. The distinction between intentional killing and unintentional (“collateral damage” in military lingo) is a biblical one. However, when the number of collateral deaths is over 650,000 , much more needs to be said. The number of Iraqis who have died since Gulf War II began is staggering. Exoneration for this cannot be accomplished merely by saying they were not intentially killed.

  • MRB,

    I have to take umbrage with your use of that particular number.

    Perhaps the number is correct for what the article claims it to be, and over half a million more people (mostly young men) have died more than would have died, but for the war.

    That does not mean:

    a) that the coalition forces killed anything close to that number of people.

    b) that the coalition forces killed any significant number of non-combatants.

    In fact, the article points out that in fewer than one third of the instances were the coalition forces blamed for the excess deaths and even among that 1/3 there is nothing I could see that distinguished between deaths of those shooting at our troops and bystanders.

    So, I don’t stagger at the death toll, which I mostly attribute to terrorists (many of whom are not Iraqi) setting off car bombs, waging guerilla warfare in populated areas, and trying to use innocent civilians as a human shield; and to common thugs who take advantage of the terrorist activities to engage in murder for profit with a lowered expectation of being caught.

    It shows that Hobbes is right in a way that almost no one wants to admit.

    But to be more germane, we are not stuck at exonerating our troops by pointing out a lack of intentionality – we can point out a lack of instrumentality.


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