Cindy Sheehan tries a new act

Last May, ubiquitous activist Cindy Sheehan, perhaps sensing that her act was growing old, announced that she was retiring from the antiwar movement and going home to Berkeley.

It didn’t last. Two months later she announced she was going to challenge Nancy Pelosi for her congressional seat because of the Democratic House speaker’s failure to end the war in Iraq and impeach President Bush.

The challenge was widely dismissed as Sheehan once again being over the top — Bush is a bigger terrorist than bin Laden, the World Trade Centers collapse on 9/11 was a "controlled demolition."

Rather remarkably, Sheehan followed through and this week San Francisco election officials announced that she had collected more than enough signatures to get on the ballot and run as an independent against Pelosi in November. Given the celebrity of these two candidates, the Republican, Dana Walsh, may justifiably be feeling a little forlorn.

The Associated Press quoted a spokesman for Pelosi as saying the speaker welcomes the challenge. We’ll bet. Pelosi is a political natural; Sheehan, a neophyte. Pelosi has, as of last month, a campaign war chest of $2.4 million; Sheehan — she says — has about $300,000. And last time Pelosi won with 80 percent of the vote. The conventional wisdom is that Sheehan will get flattened and the conventional wisdom is right.

But give the often-annoying activist credit for having the drive and initiative to quit heckling elected officials from the sidelines and get into the arena to try to become one of them based on the voter appeal of her ideas.