One of the most recognizable Iraq War critics of the Bush era weighed in this week on President Donald Trump's widely-criticized interactions with Gold Star families in recent days—arguing that while Trump's attacks on statements made by the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson were "so insensitive," President George W. Bush's own legacy should not be sanitized.
"Trump has proven himself to be a loose cannon who doesn't seem to have very many social graces. But Bush was no better."—Cindy Sheehan
Cindy Sheehan, the mother of Army soldier Casey Sheehan, who was killed in action in 2004, argued in an interview with the Daily Beast that Bush's military policies were just as harmful as Trump's, if not more so.
"Trump has proven himself to be a loose cannon who doesn't seem to have very many social graces," Sheehan said. "But Bush was no better. I wish the conversation was about the barbarism of war and, in this instance, why are there special ops forces in Niger? Where is the movement to oppose U.S. wars, instead of liberal handwringing over botched messages of condolence?"
Her comments come as Bush's record of initiating wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in which hundreds of thousands of people were killed, has been whitewashed by many who have favorably contrasted Bush with Trump.
Sheehan became well-known for camping out near Bush's ranch in Texas for over a month, in an effort to get him to meet with her to discuss her objections to the Iraq War and U.S. military policy, after her son's death. Bush addressed her protest by saying he offered his "sympathy" but that leaving Iraq was out of the question; he never met with Sheehan.
Sheehan called into question the country's support of Gold Star families—support that is offered to families who express their grief but not necessarily to those who loudly criticize the very policies that put their loved ones in harm's way.
"I feel like we Gold Star mothers, or families are honored as long as we expound the company line: as long as we take our Gold Star pins and just grieve in silence," said Sheehan. "My grief was exploited by Democrats and Republican alike to score political points and win elections. And the wars I swore to stop are still going, and have expanded dramatically. It makes me sad all the way around. People are still dying and that's completely unacceptable."