08/12/2005 01:46 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Cindy Sheehan, American Patriot

Camped outside in Crawford, Texas, Cindy Sheehan (as well as the other mothers who have joined her), has become part of a venerable American tradition of quixotic protestors who may well make a difference. That's so, in part, because the symbolism of her action is so resonant. Sheehan's protest points an arrow at the key, disturbing fact that the policy makers who have launched this war are personally insulated from its horrors and its consequences. Neither they nor their children are at risk of being blown up on the streets of Mosul; they will never feel anything like Cindy Sheehan's pain. (Paul Wolfowitz even got a plum job in return for his role.) Indeed, they never even had to imagine feeling that kind of pain as they plunged the country into war. By not even meeting with Sheehan (although I suspect that he eventually will),moreover, President Bush has dramatized the inaccessibility of our political leadership to the nation's "average" citizens. That just may rankle alot of people.

For those of us of a certain age, it's hard not to be reminded of the mother's marches against the Vietnam war in the 1960s; busloads of middle-aged women were alot harder to dismiss (or denigrate) than shaggy haired radical protestors (of which I, admittedly, was one). I remember my own mother, a very private and apolitical woman, going to Washington to march and to meet with Congressional delegations to voice opposition to the war: I think it was the only political protest she ever engaged in, and she returned home angry and in tears at the indifference of the politicians she met. But those mothers marches made a difference, contributing to the swelling of popular opposition to the war. If there were a military draft now, I suspect that President Bush would be encountering protesting mothers every time he appeared in public. As the war drags on, with no end in sight and more casualties every day, that might end up happening anyway.