They Don't Really Support the Troops
Cindy Sheehan, mother of a soldier who was killed in Iraq, emerged on the American political scene two years ago. Distraught and unstable, she was shamelessly exploited by opponents of George W. Bush and the war while such exploitation seemed to pay political benefits. When she became an embarrassment, she, like others before her, was tossed onto the trash heap of history by her progressive minders.
Sheehan was useful to the antiwar left in a particular way. As Jonathan Cohn put it in the September 12, 2005, New Republic, "Sheehan's value isn't as a barometer of public opinion or as a source of foreign policy wisdom. It's as proof of one very simple point: that a person can criticize the war and still support the troops."
It's unclear that Sheehan was particularly interested in "supporting the troops"--unless one means by that lamenting the fate of the troops as victims. The fact that relatively few soldiers see themselves as victims, the fact that few families understand their loved ones' service and sacrifices in that light--that didn't matter. What mattered to the left was that it was dangerous politically not to "support the troops."
Of course the antiwar left hated what the troops were doing, fighting the enemy in Iraq, and they hated the troops' goal, victory in Iraq. So "supporting the troops" meant feeling sorry for them, or pretending to--something antiwar politicians and media did with great hand-wringing and hoopla.
With the ongoing progress of the surge, and the obvious fact that the vast majority of the troops want to fight and win the war, the "support-the-troops-but-oppose-what-they're-doing" position has become increasingly untenable.