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Bush Ads Hilight Administration's Hypocrisy

As if the American people needed one more example of the Bush Administration’s hypocrisy, we need look no further than his latest round of political ads.

When the Iraq War was launched last year, the Bush Administration expanded a highly controversial policy banning reporters from photographing flag-draped coffins of soldiers who died in combat.

As USA Today noted last December:

Photographs and film footage of caskets coming home from battlefields have been a stark reminder for Americans of the toll of war. During the Vietnam War, the image of caskets arriving at Dover became a staple of the nightly news. The phrase "Dover Test" later came to signify public tolerance, or lack of it, for mounting war casualties.

So, as Delaware's News Journal noted last November:

Despite more than 400 U.S. fatalities in Iraq, the public has not seen a single flag-draped military casket at Dover Air Force Base, where a ban on press photography is being strictly enforced.

Although military officials say the decision to ban such photography was out of concern for the families of soldiers, the administration's expansion of the policy was no doubt out of a desire to prevent Americans from receiving too many "stark reminders" of the toll of the Iraq war with an election battle looming.

Nevertheless, Bush doesn't seem to care about his administration's own policy when it comes to personal political gain.

In Bush-Cheney's first television ad for the 2004 campaign, the airwaves in battleground states have been flooded with--what else--the image of firefighters carrying a flag-draped body from the wreckage of Ground Zero.

The hypocrisy of preventing Americans from seeing stark reminders of the toll of war while Bush-Cheney 2004 simultaneously exploits the image of a dead body for political gain hasn't gone unnoticed.

The ads have drawn criticism from the families of 9/11 victims and other groups.

Plus, the ads create a new credibility gap for Bush, who previously told AP he had no ambition to use 9/11 as a political issue.

Regardless of whether one believes the use of 9/11 images in political ads is in poor taste (not to mention the fact that it has previously been reported that the GOP may even be considering Ground Zero as the site of Bush's acceptance speech at the convention later this year), the fact remains that their use is the ultimate in hypocrisy.

It is inevitable that the 9/11, the Iraq war, and similar events will be exploited for political gain. History tells us this will be the case.

What is sad, however, is that although the Bush Administration obviously fears a loss of support from repeated viewings of flag-draped caskets of soldiers (the so-called "Dover Test"), the administration is willing to use similar images for political gain with no compunction whatsoever.

If Americans had actually seen the flag-draped coffins of those killed in Iraq on television every night, there is no doubt the question on everyone's mind would not be "why is Bush exploiting death for political gain," but rather, "where do I go to vote in November?"

Posted by at March 21, 2004 6:22 PM