When the Vietnam War was going on, a man stood in front of Defense Secretary Robert McNamara's window at the Pentagon and set himself on fire to protest the war. McNamara said it was one of the darkest moments of his life.
Last week in Crawford, Tex., a "Gold Star mother" who lost her son in Iraq held a vigil outside George Bush's ranch to protest the Iraq war.
The news media covered it, and the pro-war supporters attacked Cindy Sheehan for spoiling the president's vacation.
Leading the attacks was Bill O'Reilly, the Fox TV spinmeister, who said that the mother was being supported by the far left, which is against the war.
Bill was mad. When he gets mad, his face gets red and he demands that somebody do something about it. He wants to fire judges and impeach prosecutors and he lets you know in no uncertain terms how he feels about the "far-left media."
The night I watched him (before Sheehan left Crawford because her mother had a stroke), he told us that Sheehan was to be on his show but canceled. O'Reilly hates people who won't go on his program, and he lets us know about it. He feels he is giving them an opportunity to debate with him -- even though he doesn't let his guests talk. He behaves like the kid in school you always hated.
The more O'Reilly railed against Sheehan, the more supporters he made for her. Many who came to Crawford planted white crosses on the highway.
O'Reilly said she was a puppet of ideologues, who were using her to embarrass President Bush. He went on to say that Sheehan flip-flopped on Bush's role in the war. Bill hates someone who flip-flops, especially when he thinks they should flip and not flop.
It isn't easy to trash a mother who lost her son in Iraq, but O'Reilly has managed to do it. He has tied Sheehan up with Michael Moore, MoveOn.org and Maureen Dowd.
O'Reilly said he only deals in facts and told us Sheehan's 's husband was getting a divorce from her, which says more about what kind of woman she really is.
What started out as a vigil in Crawford became an antiwar protest. Reporters from all over the world showed up. Sheehan appeared on every television show. (Why didn't she appear on Bill O'Reilly's?)
President Bush was shown trying to have a vacation, while the protesters stood outside the ranch holding up signs against the war.
It was Vietnam all over again.
The president, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice were assuring us things are getting better in Iraq and will continue to do so if we "just stay the course," and that people who refuse to stay the course are not loyal Americans. Holding a vigil in Crawford could be compared to immolation in front of the Pentagon.
Questions flew all over the lot: "Why doesn't Cindy go home and leave the president alone? He is the commander in chief, and like Lyndon Johnson, he knows how to fight a war."
"The O'Reilly Factor" went by so fast, I hated for the hour to be over.
I didn't know at the end whether Bill was mad at Cindy for being used by the left or because she never went on his show.
(c) 2005, Tribune Media Services