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July 12, 2006
Misdirected Outrage At A Democratic Mistake

A lot of people have found themselves offended by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's latest advertisement. The DCCC uses a brief shot of flag-draped coffins of dead American servicemen to argue that the country has "taken a turn for the worse." Some object to this as crass exploitation, calling it "disgusting", among other epithets.

The DCCC certainly invites criticism with its use of that imagery, but we should be careful with our moral outrage. The Democrats have every right to campaign on a belief that the Iraq War has failed, all evidence to the contrary. Part of that argument involves the loss of American life, and like it or not, that is certainly a rational basis on which to argue the war's value. My objection to this does not come so much from their use of the imagery, but from their inability to provide a coherent argument about how to proceed with a war against terrorists by running away from the biggest operational network of Islamists. They have tried to conjure up a coherent war policy since Afghanistan, and have yet to accomplish it.

What's more remarkable about the advertisment, in my opinion, is how bereft of content it is. They don't even use the imagery to make a coherent argument against their opponents, let alone in favor of themselves. We see an oil refinery with smoke coming out of its stacks, and then high gas prices. What does the DCCC mean to say in that sequence? They object to high gas prices, but then object to refineries that produce the gas? If we got rid of the refineries, would gas prices go down? If that's their argument, then we know they flunk economics for their midterms.

That sequence gets dropped between war sequences, bouncing the viewer between issues, and then we see hurricances and the Superdome. FEMA response is a valid criticism as well, but the Republicans are not God and they don't cause bad weather, despite what The Day After Tomorrow portrays. (I note that the commercial says almost nothing about the extremely low number of tornadoes this year.)

The commercial then takes us on a series of happy pictures interspersed with pictures of Rahm Emmanuel, Nancy Pelosi, and Steny Hoyer -- but says nothing about them. The DCCC just wants you to think that their mere presence makes women and children very, very happy. In fact, the DCCC advertisement has nothing at all about Democratic policy goals or voting records. The only voice the viewer hears is that of Bill Clinton, who actually gets the most face time of any other Democrat in the commercial -- because apparently nothing that Pelosi, Emmanuel, or Hoyer has to say will motivate people to vote Democratic.

As an advertisement, it's pathetic. It says nothing except We Hate Bush Even More Than We Did Two Years Ago. It also communicates that they haven't had an original thought since Bill Clinton's last election in 1996.

We need to toughen up as a nation, however, and complaining about this four-second sequence in a dippy commercial doesn't help. American servicemen have come home in flag-draped coffins, and that is a public policy issue that we should debate. We argue that the Democrats are so afraid of casualties that they lack the tenacity to win this war, but if we can't watch these images without getting our own panties in a twist, I don't know that we're communicating a stronger position. It's the same problem with the networks sanitizing 9/11 by not showing the people who had to jump to their deaths in order to avoid being burned alive, or the images of the deaths of Kristian Menchaca and Thomas Tucker; it's part of the war that we must face and over which we must prevail.

UPDATE: Hot Air appears to agree with me on this issue, and notes the bad photoshopping done on Tom DeLay. Perhaps the DCCC will explain why Texas Democrats sued to keep DeLay on the ballot in Texas if they think he's so bad.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 12, 2006 5:22 PM

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From Red State: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has a new fundraising pitch going out. It uses September 11th and our troops to raise money. But, instead of using those images to show Democrats would be tougher on terrorists and... [Read More]

Tracked on July 13, 2006 7:19 AM


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