'Freedom's Watch' Pro-Surge Commercials Paid For By Bush Supporters
Ari Fleischer's misleading message - "They Attacked Us!"
Freedom's Watch, the former press secretary's new pro-Iraq war group, has little to do with veterans and everything to do with politics.
By Joe Conason
If you happen to reside in the district of a Republican member of Congress whose support of the Iraq war is wavering, or in a state where a Republican senator is facing reelection next year, you may soon see a moving commercial. Featuring the voice and image of a veteran who lost both legs in Iraq, it delivers a familiar message: "They attacked us before" -- on 9/11 -- "and they will attack us again" if we don't fight on until "victory."
Nobody would want to argue with John Kriesel, the veteran who appears in this ad and whose sacrifices are all too obvious. When he gazes out from the screen to admonish us that "it's no time for politics," he is surely sincere. So are the other veterans and family members of deceased vets who are appearing in similar ads urging Congress to stay the course (although that phrase is no longer operative). They too tell us, no doubt believing every word, that we are winning the war, that we invaded Iraq to fight the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11, and that to withdraw now would dishonor those who have been killed and wounded there -- and they insist that anyone who disagrees is motivated by "politics." But the same degree of misguided sincerity should not necessarily be attributed to Freedom's Watch, the new right-wing organization financing those ads. [...]
But the manipulative style of the Freedom's Watch ads -- and the apparent decision to air them against wavering Republicans -- signals desperation, not strength. This campaign is aimed at the base, not the broader public that despises Bush and wants the troops brought home. Launching such an effort now may hold a few votes for the White House in the upcoming congressional struggles over the war, but it is cheapening the emotional currency that Republican strategists have relied on during the past three election cycles and will undoubtedly seek to exploit again next year.