19 March, 2006

Political Props

When it comes to politics, the members of the military walk a fine line. For example, they cannot use their uniform or rank to endorse or reject a politician. I know that many are simply reluctant to talk politics at all and when pressed often decline to associate themselves with an organized political party.

The president must also be careful to try to separate his political role from his role as Commander in Chief. It's a rather vague line, but as the article below points out, he's been careful to make his appearances with the troops about discussing wartime matters or thanking them for their service. Though the political benefits of putting this president in front of a crowd of adoring troops cannot be denied, there is usually a significant amount of non-political substance involved as he tries to walk the narrow line between his dual roles.

However, the Democrats apparently have no such concerns about using the military. The Washington Times has obtained a strategy memo from the office of Democratic Leader Harry Reid that consists of nothing but guidelines and suggestions for how to attack President Bush by exploiting the military.

Senate Democrats have mapped a political battle plan for the March congressional recess that calls on lawmakers to stage press events with active duty military personnel, veterans and emergency responders to bash President Bush on virtually every one of his national security policies.

...Titled "Real Security," the political document calls for staged town hall events at military bases, weapons factories, National Guard units, fire stations and veterans posts.
They attempt to carefully sidestep the fact that political campaign events are not allowed on military installations by having only incumbent politicians involved. However, this is of course a fundamental part of the Democrat Party's congressional election campaign, as they have made the strategic choice to run in the election against what they see as Bush's national security failures. With stunning hypocrisy they have long complained that the president has used the military for personal political gain in ways that are a mere shadow of what the Democrats have planned:
• Hold a town hall meeting with state officials and a local National Guard unit at their armory to discuss the security impact of long deployments. ... Ask National Guard members to offer input on how security and disaster response at home is compromised by long deployments.

• Hold a town hall meeting with troops at a local military installation. ... When selecting a location at the military installation for the event, make sure to select a space that allows easy press access and clearly conveys the message in the shot. Planes, vehicles, equipment and signage in the background enhance the pictures coming out of your event.

• Work with [veterans] organizations ... to find recently returned Iraq and Afghanistan veterans willing to discuss the mental effects they or their fellow veterans have experienced.

• Tour a factory in your state that manufactures military equipment like Humvees or body armor and hold a press availability afterwards with Iraq and Afghanistan veterans on the importance of protective equipment.

• Visit the home of a military family that has purchased body armor on their own for a family member serving in Iraq or Afghanistan and hold an open press 'conversation' on the issue. ... Ask the family if they would be willing to hold the open press conversation/town hall meeting in their yard, on their front porch or in their home.
I'm not here to argue any of the issues the events are built on; that's for another forum. What I am appalled and offended by is such shameless and manipulative use of military men and women as props in attempts to attack their Commander in Chief. It disgusts me beyond words. The third suggestion above particularly turns my stomach. To use a veteran suffering with mental wounds in this manner is no different than posing by an amputee's bedside to publicize one's opposition to the war. But war opponents have long ago learned that's a no-win situation; they're much more subtle in their exploitation now.

I try to so hard to believe that Democrats in the House and Senate really want what is best for our country but just have different ideas about how to accomplish it. But then they go and do things like this and I find myself so repulsed that I cannot take their message seriously...

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