Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Politics of War Could Pivot on Mother's Vigil - Los Angeles Times

Politics of War Could Pivot on Mother's Vigil - Los Angeles Times: "By Ronald Brownstein, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — The high-profile vigil near President Bush's Texas ranch by Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq last year, could scramble the politics of the war as much for her allies as for the target of her protest.

An immediate effect may be to increase the pressure on liberal activist groups and Democrats — who have focused mostly this year on other issues — to challenge Bush more persistently and forcefully on the war.

'It has gotten people back in the fight,' said Eli Pariser, executive director of the political action committee associated with the liberal 'What we're seeing is a lot of people … recommitting themselves.'

Antiwar activists, largely inactive since the 2004 election, are organizing around Sheehan's protest: Tonight, the MoveOn PAC and two other liberal groups plan to sponsor about 1,000 candlelight vigils around the country to support her.

For Bush, a reinvigorated protest movement presents obvious dangers as he struggles to bolster flagging public support for the mission in Iraq. But such a challenge could present opportunities for the White House.

If a revived antiwar movement promotes alternative policies that the public resists — such as the immediate withdrawal of all American troops, which Sheehan favors — Bush could garner support for his course, some analysts say.

'If it's a message that he is able to portray … as a fringe opposition group, I think he can use that as a foil,' said Christopher Gelpi, a Duke University political scientist who studies public opinion during wartime. 'On the other hand, if the movement's [message] is picked up by other politicians or prominent opinion leaders, that could be very damaging to him.'

The neighbor who fired a shotgun over Sheehan's roadside camp Sunday and the pickup driver "


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