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An Excess of Outrage

The gents at RedState and Ankle Biting Pundits are raging over a new video by the DCCC which uses an image of flag-draped coffins and another with a gun supporting the helmet of a fallen soldier. They're using words like "outrageous," "appalling," and "disgusting" to describe the Democrats' use of these images. I'm sorry, but I don't see it and, quite frankly, the outrage seems misplaced, if not a bit phony and hypocritical.

The charge that Democrats are "using dead solders" for political purposes sounds an awful lot like the gripe the left made against President Bush in 2004 for using an image of 9/11 in one of his campaign ads:

President Bush's day-old reelection advertising campaign generated criticism and controversy yesterday, as relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist strikes charged that television commercials using images from the attacks were exploiting the tragedy for political gain.

"The idea that President Bush would rally support around his campaign by using our loved ones in a way that is so shameful is hard for me to believe," said Rita Lasar, a New York resident whose brother, Abe Zelmanowitz, died in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. "It's so hard for us to believe that it's not obvious to everyone that Ground Zero shouldn't be used as a backdrop for a political campaign. We are incensed and hurt by what he is doing."

bush9-11.gif I had absolutely no problem with Bush using an image of 9/11 in his campaign ad for a very simple reason: it was a defining moment in our country's history, and served as the subtext of the entire campaign, including Iraq. Both campaigns talked about 9/11 and about our response to it, and both campaigns enlisted support from victims' families to appear at political events, including the nominating conventions. So why on earth shouldn't President Bush have been allowed to show a tasteful, split-second shot of an American flag waving in the foreground amid the devastation at Ground Zero?

The same thing goes for the DCCC video. The war in Iraq is the defining issue of our time, and the Democratic party is vehemently opposed to it. Soldiers are, in fact, dying in Iraq on an almost daily basis. So why can't the Democrats show a split-second visual depiction of that reality? What are they supposed to do, show a graph of the U.S. casualty rate to depict the sacrifices we're making in Iraq? Not mention them at all?

The DCCC video may be a terrible political move, because to the extent it's viewed by a non-leftist audience it will reinforce the idea that Democrats are cynical defeatists on the issue of Iraq. But charges that the use of those images in the video make it somehow "disgusting," "appalling" or otherwise beyond the pale simply don't stick.