Images of war
Republicans, trying again to rally their conservative base, are "outraged," yes outraged, over the Democrats' use in a campaign Internet ad of the image of American flag-drapped coffins of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq.
But the latest flap shows Democrats trying to turn the tables on a Republican technique that has worked against them in the past - manipulating the images of Sept. 11 and the war in Iraq.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee web ad titled "New Directions" opens with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco greeting a young girl on Capitol Hill.
It quickly moves to the war images, including an impromptu battlefield memorial from one U.S. soldier to his fallen buddy, then to images representing soaring gas prices and Hurricane Katrina while mixing in photos of President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, former top House leader Tom DeLay and Bush political aide Karl Rove.
Republicans, and the right-wing bloggers, are furious at, in the words of Majority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, the "attempts to exploit U.S. military casualties in the global war on terror."
"It's disgraceful that ... the Democrats would use images of caskets of dead American soldiers to raise money. I think they should pull the advertisement immediately and sincerely apologize to our men and women in uniform and their families and the American people," Boehner added today.
On Wednesday, Rep. Tom Reynolds of New York, the head of the House Republican campaign effort, said "the idea that Democrats would try to raise money off of our troops is sickening -- our fallen heroes are not for sale. Nancy Pelosi, Rahm Emanuel, and Steny Hoyer should be ashamed of themselves for appearing in this video. ... Regardless of what your views on the war may be, this crosses the line. Rahm Emanuel (the Chicago lawmaker who is chair of the Democratic campaign committee) owes our troops, their families, and the families of the fallen an apology."
But Democratic leaders are not apologizing.
Pelosi, at her weekly press conference today, scoffed at the reaction, saying Republicans are "in denial of the consequences of their actions in Iraq."
"They have not wanted anyone to see the sad consequences of war," added Pelosi, who in October 2002 voted against the resolution authorizing Bush to use military force to oust Saddam Hussein and has been a leading critic of the war ever since, repeatedly calling it a "grotesque mistake."
Democrats also were quick to point out that in his 2004 re-election campaign, a controversial Bush commercial used the image of the flag-draped coffin of a terror victim in an effort to evoke the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. At the time, the families of some 9/11 victims attacked the Bush campaign, but Republicans stood by the ad.