Sunday, August 14, 2005

Framing Cindy Sheehan

I admit that I have struggled with the whole Cindy Sheehan saga. I still don't know for sure what to make of her. Is she simply the "grieving mother?" Is she a calculating "peace activist?" Is she a pawn of "left wing radicals?" Is she just taking advantage of the media for her 15 minutes of fame?

I also admit that I am not inclined to think much of the concept of framing. I agree with the theory and recognize that framing is critical to marketing, with includes selling political candidates and ideas. I'm just not sure I like the idea that the frame defines the message.

What is Cindy Sheehan's frame? Dr. Jeffery Feldman, the frame doctor, presents his theory at Frameshop.

“In broad terms, the success of the 'grieving mom' phrase indicates that Americans are now thinking about the War in Iraq through the frame of the family, rather than thinking about Iraq through the frame of 'terrorism' or 'ideology.'

The implications of this shift from 'terrorism' to 'family' in the country's thinking about
Iraq are profound. Not only does this shift forewarn a political tidal wave soon to break on the President's foreign policy, but also of a much deeper, tectonic shift in the strategy beneath all the recent gains in the Republican party.

The great success of Cindy Sheehan's protest, therefore, is no less than the moral authority for the Democratic Party to speak for the American family.“

I think that Sheehan is a true phenomenon. She is part of the perfect storm that has coalesced around not only the failure of President Bush's Iraqi adventure, but the dark void of humanity that engulfs all the President’s Men (and Women).

I don't think that she will succeed in bringing American troops home any time soon. President Bush and his crew are having limited success trying to figure out how to do that. The tragedy in Iraq will play on until the last helicopters lift off from the “Green Zone” and we hand the keys to Saddam’s old palaces to the representative of the soon to be deposed Iraqi government.

No, what Cindy Sheehan is doing with her vigil is exposing the hypocrisy of the Bush Administration. She is shining a light on the lack of values and morality that are at the heart of the Bush Presidency. She is, by her quiet dignity, separating the words "compassionate" and "conservative" is such a way that neither George Bush nor his theocratic allies on the religious right will every be able to put the two together again.

You can put a frame around Cindy Sheehan, but you can’t figure out how to keep her within it.