I can’t say that I am particularly surprised by the appearance of 9-11 imagery in the early advertising produced by the Bush campaign. When the decision was made to hold the Republican convention in New York, the use of 9-11 as a political tool became inevitable, despite previous pledges by the administration not to use such imagery in the political campaign.
If we look back at the Bush Administration prior to September 11, corporate scandals, the abrogation of several international treaties, the row with China regarding our spy plane, as well as the controversies surrounding the post 9-11 policies, the war on terror, the Patriot Act, and all the rest, it becomes obvious that the one moment of unity most Americans felt with this administration was in the immediate aftermath of the 9-11 tragedy.
So, in a cold analysis, an attempt to rekindle some of that national unity, which the campaign would probably prefer to have phrased as patriotism, is simply political shrewdness.
However, I find it revolting that President Bush would allow his campaign to capitalize on the deaths in the World Trade Center, while completely ignoring the deaths and casualties produced by this administration’s policies in Afghanistan and Iraq.
It has been well documented that the soldiers who die in Iraq have been brought back into this country under the cover of night. Media has been banned from covering their arrival, and Bush officials have been notably absent from these funerals.
With the exception of a few quiet visits to the Iraq wounded, only after media exposure that there had been none, this administration has taken great pains to distance itself from the Americans who have died or been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But, perhaps most troubling to me, has been the vast reduction of these casualties, to the status of statistic. If you read the Pentagon’s briefings on soldiers killed, they list rank, name, age, and one dry sentence as to the cause of his or her death.
These were not machines. These were not statistics. These were people with lives and families and laughter.
But these deaths, these injuries, these ruined lives, will not be mentioned in your campaign. These US soldiers will not receive the flag waving live coverage on all six networks of Jessica Lynch’s return. They will not even be afforded a proper acknowledgement of their sacrifices.
In your political ambition, Mr. Bush, you have taken that from them. You have shunted them aside, and buried them quietly away from the public eye.
So, Mr. Bush, if you wish to stand on the bodies from 9-11 to make your campaign speeches, I will accept it. But at the very least, admit that you are also responsible for the death and wounding of thousands of our citizens through your choices.
MIKE LEGRO is one of the legion of the Bush unemployed. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org