The Hushing Season
The women of CodePink are calling for "a Mother of a March" the Monday after Mother's Day. Their plan is to surround the Congress in the spirit of anti-war activist, Julia Ward Howe, who in the 1870s, exhorted women to "Say firmly: 'We will not have questions decided by irrelevant agencies." Howe was the founder of Mother's Day. No doubt the CodePinkers will be met, as protestors (especially women protestors) are usually met, with either silence or condescension. Establishmentarians don't like protestors behaving rudely and breaking up the consensus. Hush Hush they say. Don't be uppity.
The consensus the White House is trying to build right now is consensus around silence and waiting. As summer looms, we're entering the hushing season.
The White House's latest line is that only come September, will we know if the President's troop escalation strategy in Iraq is working. The only progress report that counts, they say, is the one that'll come from General David H. Petraeus, the new top commander in Iraq, and Ryan Crocker, the US ambassador to Baghdad, who, we're told will testify on Capitol Hill in September.
Well, the women of CodePink (like Howe before them,) aren't about to hush. And that's because the only the only thing that's certain about September is by then more US soldiers and Iraqi civilians will be dead or maimed, and by September the US presidential campaign will be in full swing, giving ample scope for the White House to dismiss critics and Congressional action as partisan stunts, or political theater.
Unlike the president, who I'm sure plans to take a long summer vacation, war and occupation don't take a break. The time to increase the pressure on W and his Congressional collaborators is now, because we're not in the thick of the 2008 campaign season. Now is the calm before 2008's storm. Now is when the Congress - in the first year of a two-year term — can most legitimately be expected to focus on governing rather than on getting themselves re-elected. Now, not September, is the time to draw the line.
Let's remember the un-hushable Howe: "From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own, it says, "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
From RadioNation Sunday May 13, 2007. Starting May 27th, RadioNation will be heard at a new time: Sundays at 1 pm ET on Air America Radio.
This article was written with contributions of Steven Rosenfeld.
Laura Flanders is the author of Blue Grit: True Democrats Take Back Politics from the Politicians, out now from The Penguin Press.
© 2007 The Nation