- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 17, 2008

There is an old saying that goes, “When you lie down with dogs you come up with fleas.” Cindy Sheehan is not a dog. She is the grieving mother of Casey Sheehan - an army specialist and Purple Heart recipient killed while serving in Iraq - and an outspoken critic of the war. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, also not a canine, is certainly itching like crazy after San Francisco’s Department of Elections on Monday verified enough petition signatures to qualify Mrs. Sheehan as an independent primary candidate running against her.

Mrs. Pelosi gave Mrs. Sheehan a huge platform in her efforts to denounce the Iraq war. The “chickens coming home to roost” must have been a bitter irony for her, and a bitter reminder to Democrats of just how fractured their party really is. It is now clear that there are indeed three distinct parties corralled under the donkey symbol, including “fiscally conservative” Blue Dogs, traditional Democrats and extreme-leftist liberals, like Mrs. Sheehan - who touts as her reason for running Mrs. Pelosi’s failure to attempt an impeachment vote against President Bush. There may actually be four if you consider the “Clintonites” wing that still refuses to support Barack Obama’s Democratic nomination.

Mrs. Sheehan, a resident of Dixon, Calif., does not even live in Mrs. Pelosi’s congressional district. But she is still eligible to be a candidate because the law does not say that someone has to live in a district in order to run there. It stipulates only that someone be a state resident.

Mrs. Pelosi has not commented on this newest wrinkle to her first term as speaker of the House - one that includes a Republican protest of her failure to bring to the floor votes to remove the ban on offshore drilling and expand domestic production. She is apparently somewhat oblivious to the daily goings-on - too busy with her national soapbox tour.

There is another lesson to be learned here for Democrats, and it is the same lesson Republicans learned. After sidling up to, for a short time, the families of the victims of the September 11 attacks, the families quickly turned on them in December 2004 after compromises killed strict-biometric-identification requirements for entry into America - only House Republicans F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Eric Cantor and John Hostetler kept up the fight and eventually won the next year.

Politicians have to learn that using people and their grief and anguish - and by promising them the moon in exchange for their support - is a dangerous and at times detestable game. Although we may not agree with Mrs. Sheehan’s views, good for her for keeping Mrs. Pelosi on the hot seat and teaching her that important lesson.

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