Thursday, February 23, 2006

Dictatorship of the Dead

Katie has had some time off, but she is back today, all vinegary and refreshed. It’s Katie’s first weigh in on the Progress for American Voter Fund commercials, the ones with the Iraq vets and the relatives of dead soldiers exhorting us to “complete the mission” in Iraq. Spot has commented before here.

Katie’s bleating today is about the DFL’s reaction to the commercials. In particular, DFL party chair Brian Melendez comes in for criticism. Here’s what the DFL website reports about his comments:


ST. PAUL (2/16/06) – Today, DFL Chair Brian Melendez called on all Minnesota TV stations to follow the lead of KSTP TV and pull the ‘Midwest Heroes’ ad off the air. He was joined at a press conference at the State Capitol by Congressional candidate and veteran Tim Walz.

The ad states that the media only reports negative stories, a comment that is patently untrue. As reported on WCCO’s ‘Reality Check,’ 4 out of 10 news stories are positive and the majority of Sunday political news show commentators are conservative.

The ad then states that the enemy in Iraq are the same terrorists responsible for 9/11, and images of Saddam Hussein are shown along with the Twin Towers. This tactic is misleading at best, as the 9/11 Commission Report states that there is no connection between Iraq and the 9/11 terrorist attack.

“Minnesota has the chance to take a stand against this kind of misleading propaganda,” said DFL Chair Brian Melendez. “Right now, our state is a testing ground for this particular ad, and we can be sure that many more will follow this election season. Minnesota TV stations should pull this ad and send the message that we will not tolerate this kind of swiftboating anymore.”

“WCCO has called this ad ‘misleading’ and only ‘partly true,’ said Chair Melendez.“ Well, partly false advertising insults Minnesotans intelligence. We won’t stand for propaganda that can’t be backed up with fact.”

Spot also read the email that Melendez apparently sent to DFL activists; it is reprinted by Tink; you can read it here. Spot doesn’t see the term un-American used by Melendez in either place as Katie and Tink claim he did, but Spotty did not see the press conference. Whether Melendez said it or not, Spotty will: the commercials are un-American. That’s not the ground that Spot would have chosen to fight on, but if Katie and Powerline want to rumble there, fine.

Katie and Tink feel all, like, wounded over the criticism of local boy Lt. Col. Bob Stephenson who appeared in one of the commercials. In Katie’s column, she wants us to believe that the commercials are the effort of a “grass roots” organization called the Minnesota Families United. But the people who produced and are running the very expensive commercials, and the full color mailings that have gone with them, are from (ready?) Washington, D.C. There is a website called (that Spot cannot get to load at present). But as Spot has observed before, however, the people behind the Progress for America Voter Fund are guys like Ken “Cakewalk” Adelman.

These are the same folks that brought you the commercial during the last campaign of President Bush hugging the child who lost her mother in the WTC bombings. As USA Today said, it was a pure emotional play. And these two commercials are, too. The purpose of the commercials is to short circuit the viewer’s ability to think rationally about the war, how we got in it, and how we’re going to get out.

Spotty says the commercials are un-American because they try to sand bag opponents of the warwith emotional arguments that try to cut off debate. As the old bromide says, Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.

Actually, on second thought, maybe Katie and Powerline are right. Maybe astro-turfing and misleading appeals to emotion are now part of the American political landscape, at least for some people.

The events of just yesterday and today should tell us that Iraq is not getting better; it is perched on the verge of brutal, sectarian civil war, a war that will leave the country a far more effective breeding ground for terrorists than before. And it’s about time we ‘fessed up to having a role in igniting it.

And our service personnel who have been killed? Tragic, grim, heart breaking. But they are not martyrs. The dead and those who mourn them cannot control the living. That would be a dictatorship of the dead.


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