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Senator and presidential candidate Russ Feingold has already redefined the political campaign as satire with almost two years to go before the first primary. His political-action committee has a television ad out already, and it accuses President Bush of spying on his political opponents and wishing to make himself king. However, when challenged about the misinformation contained within the video, Feingold's spokesman tried convincing people that it was intended as a joke:
Advisor: So Mr. President, how's our commander in chief feeling these days?
President (off-screen): Yeah, I'm fine, fine.
Advisor: Oh, you're a lot better than fine. The war's over like you said. Missions accomplished Georgie baby.
President (off screen): Huh?
Advisor: I'm sorry, that probably doesn't seem appropriate for the king of the United States. Yes I said "King." Think about it. You don't have to settle for just being President GW. The war still got everyone running scared. They'll go along with whatever you say. Forget the rules and quit treating the Constitution like it's set in stone. For starters, we should be eavesdropping on anybody who has the nerve to disagree with you - court order or not.
President (off screen): What?
Advisor: It's not domestic spying George. It's terrorist surveillance.
President (revealed as George Washington): Break the law? Ignore the Constitution? What you propose goes against the very things we stand for. As President of these United States, I would never condone that.
Feingold (voiceover): Our country hasn't stood for this kind of abuse of power for over two hundred years. Let's not stand for it now. Support the Progressive Patriots. We can fight the terrorists without breaking the law or sacrificing our freedoms. Authorized and paid for by the Progressive Patriots Fund.
As Factcheck.org points out, this supposed "satire" leaves a lot of space between it and the truth. The non-partisan political oversight organization reminds its readers that no one has offered any proof, or even a credible allegation, that the NSA surveillance program has been used to spy on political opponents. Members of Congress from both parties have been briefed on this program and its results since its inception four and a half years ago, and no evidence or testimony has yet been brought that shows the NSA surveilling anything except conversations in which at least one party has been suspected of terrorist ties due to evidence obtained through other means.
Nor does the ad pass historical muster, as Factcheck also points out. Two Presidents considered among our greatest -- Abraham Lincoln and FDR -- did much worse than anything that Feingold has Washington refusing to approve. Lincoln jailed his political opponents and suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War, while FDR threw 112,000 Japanese and Americans of Japanese descent into concentration camps during World War II. Granted, these are hardly examples to follow, but at least these abuses actually occurred somewhere outside of Feingold's fevered imagination.
Besides, the notion of Feingold as protector of the Constitution is patently laughable. Feingold teamed up with John McCain to pass legislation controlling and even banning political speech in flagrant disregard of the First Amendment. The BCRA limits what people can say on television and radio about politicians within 60 days of elections that will determine whether they reach office. At the same time that court precedent equates all sorts of odd behavior with speech, such as public nudity and burning flags, the BCRA pretends that political advertising is money rather than political speech. Feingold has built a system where strippers have more free-speech rights than political activists. If Feingold wants to build a career as a satirist, that's a better entry on the resume.
Feingold's political organization wants to pass this ad off as a parody. If so, the only point made by such a satire is that leftist politicians cannot be trusted with the truth. Satire uses truth to make a political point, whereas lies intend to mislead people. Feingold has proven a master at the latter.Sphere It View blog reactions
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