Democracy is about persuasion: we talk to others to help them see our viewpoint, and to find out if they can share it. In the process, we learn about their viewpoints, and find out if we can share theirs. Going into a discussion without the possibility of listening means that you enter a discussion without the possibility of persuasion: you're just flapping your gums. You don't respect the humanity of the others with whom you are speaking. Little Green Footballs noticed
that Sheehan's epigoni have the mark of failure on them: “We don’t want to debate with people who don’t understand our point of view.”
It's time, gentlemen, to open your copy of Democracy in America
and read about how your countrymen perceive politics. We're not angels, we're not devils, but we discuss things, lots of things, and we're not interested in people who lecture us. I don't believe in people who don't respect their families, on the whole: and Mrs. Sheehan didn't respect her son, from all accounts. Mark Steyn
puts it a little differently:Ever since America’s all-adult, all-volunteer army went into Iraq, the anti-war crowd have made a sustained effort to characterise them as ‘children’. If a 13-year-old wants to have an abortion, that’s her decision and her parents shouldn’t get a look-in. If a 21-year-old wants to drop to the Oval Office shagpile and chow down on Bill Clinton, she’s a grown woman and free to do what she wants. But, if a 22- or 25- or 37-year old is serving his country overseas, he’s a wee ‘child’ who isn’t really old enough to know what he’s doing.
What Sheehan needs is therapy, not a meeting with the President. She is being exploited by those who think that politics is about feeling good, and who ought to be ashamed of themselves.