Friday, March 05, 2004

Truth In Advertising 

The recent TV ads by the Bush-Cheney campaign have received a lot of heat for showing images of 9-11. Personally, I can understand that families of the victims would have mixed feelings about seeing those images in a campaign ad. Nonetheless, to try to sever the Bush presidency from the very defining event of that presidency is simply impossible. The question is not whether 9-11 should be mentioned at all: to avoid mentioning 9-11 would be a delusion, denying the fact that we are still immediately affected by the attack, from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (that have yet to end) to orange alerts at home. The real question is how 9-11 can be discussed respectfully in the political context.

Having seen the ads, I believe that the ads have already done everything possible to keep the emotional impact of the 9-11 images to a minimum. No explosions, no collapsing towers, no clouds of smoke billowing, and so on. And had the ad mentioned the past of the Bush term, and to show a blank screen when mentioning 9-11 (which it must do), would be more of an insult to Americans. It would be a statement that Americans cannot stand to be reminded of that horrible day, that we seek to forget the past.

Sadly, though, some Americans have already forgotten. Take John Kerry:
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said President George W. Bush is trying to "scare America'' and "change the subject'' by using images of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in ads for his re-election bid.

"You understand why he's doing that,'' Kerry said at a rally in New Orleans. "He can't come out here and talk to you about jobs; he can't come out here and talk to you about protecting the environment,'' said Kerry. "He can't talk to you about balancing the budget.''
What in the world is that supposed to mean? 9-11 is the subject, or it should be. The threat of terrorism is being fought, but it is not extinguished. The real scandal is that John Kerry would say that 9-11 isn't the subject, that he is suggesting that the attacks are no longer of the greatest relevance to Americans.

And as for those other issues he mentioned? One of the Bush campaign ads is about jobs. Balancing the budget, well I'm disappointed by that too, but Kerry's idea of raising taxes to counteract the deficit is even more destructive to the economy. And the environment? For crying out loud, it's the first set of campaign ads and the election is eight months away. If President Bush is to respond to every damn issue out there, he might as well scrap the campaign ads and start up a 24-hour campaign TV channel.

Thankfully, Rudy Giuliani, still one of my greatest heroes, gets it. So does the Wall Street Journal. And I'm thankful that the Bush campaign isn't apologizing, because such an apology would completely twist around for the worse what 9-11 will mean for Americans in the future.
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