- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 22, 2005

She’s mulling book and movie deals. She has a press secretary, security and a tattoo on her left ankle. She doesn’t have an agent yet, but there’s someone to “handle” her schedule and field offers.

She has reached that pinnacle of fame where she is known only by one name: Cindy. As in, “America Stands With Cindy.” Cindy from Crawford. But not Cindy Crawford.

She sprawled on the grass of the West Lawn of the Capitol yesterday, relaxing after marching three blocks with a dozen supporters and a scrum of unruly camera operators and reporters, dressed in a denim miniskirt and sporty red-and-white Skechers shoes. Her cropped strawberry hair glinted under the robin’s egg blue sky, the all-American pacifist pinup for the Metamucil set.

She speaks in a girlish voice, and even her signature is a loopy grade-school scrawl. There’s nothing sophisticated about Cindy Sheehan except for her keen sense of publicity. At every turn — since her days of setting up a one-woman, 24-hour, anti-war vigil across from President Bush’s Texas ranch — her first priority has been to alert the reporters and photographers.

Yesterday, they heeded the call: national television, local television, National Public Radio and Japanese- and Spanish-language stations, all scrambling and shouting. At one point, a camera operator backed into the microphone stand, sending it toppling to the grass.

If only Mr. Bush and first lady Laura Bush had invited Mrs. Sheehan into their ranch six weeks ago for a barbecue and lemonade, “we wouldn’t be standing here,” she said.

But they didn’t. So there she was, awash in media.

Three El Monte RVs pulled up to the curb — 40 minutes late — and a dozen supporters followed her to the Capitol lawn, carrying banners and chanting: “What do we want? Troops home. When do we want it? Now” Their buses are scrawled with messages: “For What Noble Cause?” and “DC or Bust.” The protesters broke into song: “Ain’t gonna study war no more.”

About 45 sympathizers are on her “Bring Them Home Tour,” and Mrs. Sheehan has visited 51 cities in 28 states since leaving Crawford on the last day of August, just as Hurricane Katrina was about to blow her off Page One and the television newscasts. She was joined on the tour by members of Gold Star Families for Peace, Military Families Speak Out and Iraq Veterans Against the War. Joining her in Washington are actress Jessica Lange, perennial presidential candidate Ralph Nader and sometime presidential candidate the Rev. Al Sharpton for a rally scheduled for Saturday on the Ellipse.

Several speakers took the microphone yesterday and spoke passionately about their frustration with the current administration and the military.

Finally, Mrs. Sheehan — wearing a gold necklace given to her by her son — stood before the microphones.

“It has been one month and 15 days since I sat down in a ditch in Crawford, Texas. I had no idea this would be the result,” she said.

To honor her son, Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, 24, who was killed in April 2004 in Iraq, Mrs. Sheehan set up “Camp Casey” in Texas, and she soon was joined by hundreds of like-minded supporters. Since then, she has become a heroine to some, or a loose cannon who often uses obscenities to describe Mr. Bush. In New York, she told one group that if Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton declines to meet with her and work to withdraw the troops, the New York Democrat will be out of a job. She said she has received death threats and hate mail.

“They already killed my son. People say we’re brave and courageous, but you know we’re fearless. Because we know we have right on our side. We know we’re going to prevail. Sometimes the pain is so, so deep …” — her voice grows dramatic, perhaps as if she’s pondering her own martyrdom — “that maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing … but I am absolutely not afraid at all.”

Her protest has moved beyond the Iraq war. In fact, she may be the only American housewife with both an RV and her own domestic policy. She even wants U.S. troops withdrawn from “occupied” New Orleans, where they are on duty for rescue work and restoration of order.

“I was in New Orleans,” she told a few straggler reporters before heading back to the RV and later to the White House gate to deliver a letter to Mr. Bush. “There were tanks and military vehicles and patrols. And they had their guns out. It was a little frightening.”

By 2 p.m., she was standing outside a gate at the White House with a mob of reporters. At one point, looking fatigued, she rested her head on the shoulder of a supporter. Cameras clicked and buzzed.

Asked whether billionaire George Soros, who founded MoveOn.org and spent more than $20 million in a vain attempt to defeat Mr. Bush last year, is bankrolling her protest, Mrs. Sheehan’s eyes narrowed. “No,” she said.

Still, Mrs. Sheehan is helping to open a $1 million advertising campaign in newspapers today, renewing her attack on Mr. Bush.

She wouldn’t say from where the money is coming. “I haven’t signed anything on the dotted line yet.”

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