March 04, 2004

POLITICIZING 9/11? LT Smash looks at who's complaining about the Bush commercials and discovers that they've been doing that themselves for quite a while. (You can see the ads here.) [LATER: More detail here on what's not being reported about who's doing the complaining: "So they're quoting a 'co-chair of the Kerry for President campaign' in the article without even telling their readers about it? Could they be any more deceptive?" They'll try!]

Personally, I think it's fine for Bush to remind voters what this is all about. There seems to be a -- quite political -- movement to make them forget, after all. Here's something I posted about forgetfulness, from Lee Harris's new book, Civilization and its Enemies, on 9/11/2003:

Forgetfulness occurs when those who have been long inured to civilized order can no longer remember a time in which they had to wonder whether their crops would grow to maturity without being stolen or their children sold into slavery by a victorious foe. . . . They forget that in time of danger, in the face of the Enemy, they must trust and confide in each other, or perish.

They forget, in short, that there has ever been a category of human experience called the Enemy. And that, before 9/11, was what had happened to us. The very concept of the Enemy had been banished from our moral and political vocabulary. An enemy was just a friend we hadn't done enough for -- yet. Or perhaps there had been a misunderstanding, or an oversight on our part -- something that we could correct.

And this means that that our first task is that we must try to grasp what the concept of the Enemy really means.

The Enemy is someone who is willing to die in order to kill you. And while it is true that the Enemy always hates us for a reason -- it is his reason, and not ours.

The attacks on Shiites in Iraq have brought that point home to a lot of Iraqis. It only seems fair that we make sure Americans remember, too.

UPDATE: Tim Graham notes some hypocrisy here in the media coverage:

But who has exploited and profited more from 9-11? The news media -- the special editions of Time magazine, the hours of specials, reproducing in loving color every crying widow and orphan? Or President Bush, whose entire presidency has now been dedicated to preventing another heinous terror attack on the homeland?

It has been his headache, the bad feeling in the pit of his stomach, maybe a nightmare in the middle of the night, for more than two years. He’s done a good enough job that the media’s moved on to profit from the latest ratings-grabbing tripe – missing teens, Martha, Kobe, conjoined twin operations, and the gubernatorial campaign of Gary Coleman. And they turn around and throw this spitball at him? It's going to be a long, very biased campaign.

Yep. They want people to forget, so they'll think that stories like Martha and Kobe are actually important -- and so that they'll be more likely to vote for a Democrat.

ANOTHER UPDATE: James Lileks, as usual, nails it:

Well. It’s called running on one’s record. They get to do that. But now people who were secretly relieved that Bush was in the White House after 9/11 are complaining that Bush is reminding us . . . that he was in the White House after 9/11. . . .

By this logic, FDR should have run his '44 campaign on his domestic agenda.

Read the whole thing.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Elizabeth King emails:

What do you want to bet that the Democrats had the firefighter union guy and the angry 9/11 relatives lined up and ready to complain before the Bush ads were even in the can?

It was obvious to anyone with a brain (or even just an ear, since the talking heads have all discussed it) that Bush would run on national security and the War on Terror. The Dems are doing their best to shut that issue down, from characterizing any criticism of Kerry's national security record as an attack on his patriotism, to smearing the President as a National Guard deserter, to now decrying any reference to 9/11 as insensitive to the victims and their survivors. The speed with which the chorus of complaints arose (before most people had even seen the ads) points to a war room rapid response team, rather than a genuine sense of outrage.

I don't blame the Dems for their strategy. What makes me angry is how the media just eat this stuff up without any kind of critical analysis, and how flatfooted the Bush team is in anticipating and responding to the Democrat attacks. The Bush campaign better get in the game, if they plan to win.

Actually, I think this just underscores the Democrats' sheer desperation and cluelessness on national security, and their accompanying desire to get the subject off the table -- which is truly pathetic since they've had two years to gear up. It bespeaks a cultural inability within the party to come to grips with dangerous realities. I think that Kerry is aware of the problem, but it's probably too ingrained to do much about.

Sadly, the press is largely in the tank for the Democrats on this, which is why that we have to have bloggers with Google looking into the backgrounds of these complainers instead of, you know, people who are supposed to investigate facts for a living. You know that if people with these sorts of connections to the Bush campaign were complaining about Kerry ads, we'd be hearing about it.