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March 11, 2004
Broder: Bush Ads, Campaign Mild Compared to FDR

David Broder, writing in today's Washington Post, takes apart the notion that the Bush campaign is out of line for mentioning 9/11 in its advertising, and takes us back to the campaign of the last president that experienced a massive foreign attack on American soil to compare:

I went back, with help from Washington Post researcher Brian Faler, to 1944, when Franklin D. Roosevelt, almost three years after Pearl Harbor, was running for reelection. What you learn from such an exercise is that Bush is a piker compared with FDR when it comes to wrapping himself in the mantle of commander in chief. ...

Keynoter Robert Kerr, then governor of Oklahoma, declared that "the Republican Party . . . had no program, in the dangerous years preceding Pearl Harbor, to prevent war or to meet it if it came. Most of the Republican members of the national Congress fought every constructive move designed to prepare our country in case of war." ...

Kerr was restraint personified compared with the convention's permanent chairman, Sen. Samuel Jackson of Indiana. As he contemplated the possibility of a Republican victory, he was moved to ask: "How many battleships would a Democratic defeat be worth to Tojo? How many Nazi legions would it be worth to Hitler? . . . We must not allow the American ballot box to be made Hitler's secret weapon."

If Kerry's campaign gets the screaming meemies and runs behind Max Cleland's skirts every time 9/11 gets mentioned, it's because they don't want to talk about the fact that this country is at war, and for good reason. By almost 2-1, polls indicate that voters approve of his actions in the war on terror; it's his best issue by far, and it would be irresponsible for Bush to ignore the subject entirely.

Note too the language used in 1944 to cast the opposition party as appeasers inclined to leave America dangerously unprotected. Unfortunately, it was true, although the country had been in the middle of its worst economic crisis ever and the accusations overlooked the fact that the Democrats had held the White House for nine years previous to 1941. By the time these speeches were given, the Allies were rolling like thunder across France, had almost made it to the Japanese home islands, and Italy was out of the war, and yet no one said, "Well, that's good enough," or "We can't force democracy on people at bayonet point."

The war wasn't over yet, and Americans knew it. They re-elected the man who had fought through defeats like Pearl Harbor, Wake Island, and the Kasserine Pass to victories in North Africa, Midway, and D-Day. What's more, they elected the man who ran on the war, not away from it, and certainly not one who proposed to take on the Nazis through "law-enforcement action".

Memo to Senator Kerry: Bush will continue to mention 9/11 and his plan to keep America safe from these kinds of attacks in the future. Keep squealing.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 11, 2004 5:57 AM

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