September 8, 2005

Who "shamelessly exploited" images of tragedy?

USAToday reports:
MoveOn.org Political Action plans to unveil a TV ad on Monday that questions whether Roberts is sensitive enough to civil rights concerns to lead the Supreme Court. The ad suggests that the plight of the mostly African-American evacuees in New Orleans showed that poverty remains a serious problem among minorities, said Ben Brandzel, the group's advocacy director. In a mix of judicial and racial politics, the ad then suggests that minorities could suffer if the Senate confirms Roberts.
Wait, MoveOn.org is using Katrina pictures to promote its political agenda? But I remember this, from the 2004 campaign season:
Liberal online political activist group MoveOn.org is using testimony from former White House counterterrorism head Richard Clarke in a new political ad to promote their anti-Bush agenda.

In the ad, MoveOn.org accuses President George W. Bush of politicizing September 11 by using images from the World Trade Center Towers in a recent campaign commercial.

"George Bush shamelessly exploited 9/11 in his campaign commercials," the announcer states at the beginning of the ad.
I'm lawyer enough to know how to make the argument that that is not rank hypocrisy, but, man, that is rank hypocrisy!

UPDATE: The USAToday article now has a link to this update:
A liberal interest group Thursday denied it ever planned to use televised images of poverty-stricken evacuees from Hurricane Katrina as part of a provocative, last-minute effort to divert federal Judge John Roberts' path to confirmation as chief justice.

MoveOn.org Political Action's advocacy director Ben Brandzel had laid out plans for such an ad to USA TODAY on Wednesday. But Thursday, the group's executive director said "we regret any misunderstanding that may have arisen because of anything that our staff member might have told USA TODAY's reporter."

"We have no plans, and have never had plans, to produce such an ad," Eli Pariser added.

Hmmmm.... So what do you think? Never planned to do it or saw the criticism and changed?

42 comments:

the Rising Jurist said...

Oh but there's no link between Katrina victims and Roberts. There was a logical connection between Bush and 9/11. See, it's only exploitation if the connection makes sense. Wait...

ALH ipinions said...

Ann, in the annals of hypocritical poltical ads, where do you suppose this one ranks juxtaposed to the elder Bush's 'Willie Horton" ad from 1988?

P. Froward said...

Yeah, but Bush did it for partisan reasons. MoveOn is doing it for good of the country. It's just sort of incidental that what's good for the country happens in all cases to be what's good for the Democratic party. Partisanism is only self-interested if you're on the evil side.

P. Froward said...

P.S. If it takes you longer than five minutes to find a Republican who thinks the same way, you're not looking real hard.

LagunaDave said...

but, man, that is rank hypocrisy!


You almost sound surprised...

There is more than one irony here:

The claim that Roberts is a civil-rights ogre is based on his opposition to open, institutionalized racial discrimination (affirmative action and race-based set-asides).

With the revelations of how badly Blanco and Nagin dropped the ball on the evacuation, keeping relief supplies out of NOLA, failing to send National Guard reinforcements, etc, the same people who told us the Patriot Act was a page out of Mein Kampf are rapidly being reduced to the argument that the President's great sin was hesitating to remove the lawful government of a state at gunpoint.

As more inconvenient facts continue to emerge, this is going to backfire on MoveOn.org and friends, big time.

Gerry said...

Welcome to the heart and soul of the Democratic Party in the 21st century, Ann.

LagunaDave said...

What is "hypocritical" about drawing attention to a bad policy of your opponent during an election campaign?

You might argue that the Willie Horton ad was inappropriate, but it was not "hypocritical" (BTW, the Bush campaign itself never ran an ad mentioning or depicting Horton, although one of their MoveOn-like fellow-travellers did).

The Horton ad would have been hypocritical only if Bush '41 had also administered and supported a similar program that led to women being raped in their homes at knife-point by furloughed murderers.

Richard Fagin said...

Prof Althouse, I guess your being able to argue moveon.org's statement is not rank hypocrisy makes you a better lawyer than I am. Some people are just too repulsive to take as clients.

Sloanasaurus said...

Prior to Katrina, there was some serious issues with the republican coalition holding together for '06. Smart Democrats like Hillary Clinton were using immigration and other issues to try and drive more wedges in the Coalition.

However, the foaming at the mouth by many democrats and the liberal media over Katrina has done nothing but strengthen the Republican coalition.

If anything, it is stupid strategy by Democrats. Republicans will use this hysteria in '06 to imply that the Democratic party is not a rational party.

dick said...

ALH ipinions,
about the same place the Willie Horton ad from Al Gore in 1988. Although based on what Willie Horton did after his work release and the actions taken by Dukakis in which he refused even to apologize to the people terrorized by Mr Horton I would say that the ad was actually correct. This ad is not.

rattlerd said...

MoveOn.org links poverty among blacks in NO to Roberts, Paul Krugman links poverty among blacks in NO to Bush, and so on. I wonder why no one has thought to link poverty among blacks in NO to the long list of Democratic mayors of NO and governors of LA?

But there's really no need for that, for as several posters have pointed out, the Dems are forever washed clean in the blood of Willie Horton.

RTB Scott said...

a) The Willie Horton ad has no practical value for analogy here.

b) The Willie Horton ad was not prepared by or paid for by or aired by the Bush campaign.

c) The Willie Horton ad showed an actual person who was actually furloughed by the actual Governor of Massachusetts and who actually committed a horrific crime while out of prison on that furlough. So the person who was the target of the ad was actually responsible for the circumstances highlighted by the ad.

d) If it weren't for the race-baiting Left, there would be no such thing as "the Willie Horton ad" In other words, if Willie Horton was white, there would have never been a controversy about the ad. (Let me spoon feed the lefties out there: that's because the ad as presented was color-blind. As surprising as it might be to you, the ad still would have been made even if Willie were white.)

Goatwhacker said...

The whole phenomenon of moveon.org is an odd one. It's positions tend to be extreme but overall the group seems to be embraced by many on the left, including some of the most prominent leaders (Gore, Dean, etc). I can't imagine this plays well with the middle, which is ultimately going to decide elections.

A corollary on the conservative side would be the religious right, which on it's fringes can hold some pretty extreme views, and does carry some weight in the GOP. This was pretty evident in the Terri Schiavo brouhaha, which I felt turned out to the detriment of the GOP image as a whole and also worked as a wedge between "religious" and more libertarian conservatives.

But where the far religious right may act as a wedge within the GOP, moveon.org may turn out to be a wedge between the Democrats and the middle. Ultimately this would result in a more zealous, but smaller, Democratic Party.

Dr. Tax in Sacramento said...

Wouldn't it be wonderful if all this energy were not expended on bloviating but on helping the human needs that are very real? Move.on doesn't care that incompetent politicians (ones like the ones they support nationally - the Gov and the Mayor) helped to exacerbate this problem. They also don't seem to care that their type politicians created continued malfeasance - refusing Red Cross aid for the superdome, letting both city and school buses be engulfed in water instead of helping people who they claim to care about get out of town, the list goes on and on and on. But no they want to scream and show to all of us that care only about the short term potential political gain. Now that is real hypocrisy.

peter hoh said...

RTB Scott pointed out: b) The Willie Horton ad was not prepared by or paid for by or aired by the Bush campaign.

Yep. Point ceded. And the best thing for prominent Democrats to do now would be to hold a press conference and distance themselves from this ad from MoveOn and the whole idea of blaming this on the president.

I'm not going to hold my breath waiting, however. The Democrats can't seem to help themselves from any opportunity to shoot themselves in the foot. And this is coming from someone who would dearly love to see the Democrats succeed.

But I am tired of exchanging one pork-loving, power-grabbing party for another. And so part of me thinks the best option would be for either party to overreach so much that it collapses. And the Democrats are working really hard at it.

APF said...

I'm not particularly scandlized by this ad beause of the hypocricy--moveon is a vocal advocacy group from whom I don't expect a measure of tact or perspective--but I am disappointed because of the reality I mentioned in another thread: namely that we still haven't even recovered the bodies from this tragedy yet, so it seems grotesque (not to mention premature) to use it as a bludgen to attack anyone whose ideas you disagree with. At least, as a previous poster mentioned, the Bush campaign's use of 9/11 in word and imagery made sense--his performance post-9/11 was has widely been considered his finest hour as leader of the country--and was done with enough time lapsed to be able to contemplate the usage on a rational level.

Charlie (Colorado) said...

Ann, in the annals of hypocritical poltical ads, where do you suppose this one ranks juxtaposed to the elder Bush's 'Willie Horton" ad from 1988?

Grrrr. Al Gore. Remember him? Ran the first Willie Horton ads. His campaign, too --- not a side group.


TW: yufazg. This game isn't as much fun as on Jeff Goldstein's blog.

Meade said...

"Grrrr. Al Gore. Remember him? Ran the first Willie Horton ads."

Colorado Charlie, Are you sure about that? link

Freeman Hunt said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Scipio said...

MoveOn.org continues to prove that the GOP sleaze machine has no equal. They're such amateurs. And we are the champions!

W00T!

I fully expect that in the distant future MoveOn.org will be proven to have been unwittingly funded and directed by the RNC, just like Terry McAuliffe.

Err, disregard that comment on McAuliffe. There is no proof of anything, except that Terry McAuliffe was not an unwitting GOP stooge.

Brando said...

Hello? And what is Bush up to in NOLA doing photo ops with poor black people? Is it because he really cares, because he is a compassionate conservative, because he really wants to help?

Give me a break. All this about “all we want to do is help, not politicize or play the blame game” is a convenience and typical attempt by Republicans to keep various issues off the table, which in this case is the way in which Bush and the Republican party have no intention or plan of addressing issues surrounding poverty, racism and inequality so brutally exposed by Katrina. The “ownership society” doesn’t mean shit if you don’t have wealth already and don’t have an education. It certainly doesn’t mean shit if you’re poor and black.

What is truly shameless is the way republicans spin to suggest they are one thing (compassionate) when in fact they advocate for policies that are the opposite (contemptuous).

As I see it, the ad put out by Moveon.org is an attempt to advocate for the interests of those so awfully affected by Katrina, and to bring to light a growing cancer in our body politic.

In any case, if you hadn’t noticed, America is at war with itself. There will be a vicious political battle to even get the facts straight with regard to Katrina. (Hell, Democrats had to battle to get the 9/11 commission in place.) And it is any wonder that Bush ants to lead the investigation into Katrina himself so he personally can get down to the “truth”?

Ann, you are presumably are an “originalist” with regard to the constitution. Why don’t you remind us of what our founding fathers originally said about checks and balances, and the dangers of not having any…

Elizabeth said...

Are you saying Bush's 9/11 campaign photos weren't rank? Huh.

Fortunately, the Republicans won't stoop to using Katrina to further their own agendas: "It's an old business myth that the Chinese character for 'crisis' combines the characters for 'danger' and 'opportunity.' It doesn't. But I'm not sure anyone's told the Bush administration, judging from this little tidbit in CongressDaily today: '[White House spokesman Trent] Duffy asserted that the vast spending that would be required to address the hurricane's impact adds to the need to change Social Security, which threatens to strain the budget in coming years'."

http://www.motherjones.com/mojoblog/archives/2005/09/every_crisis_an.html

Freeman Hunt said...

And as to the actual topic, Brando? Any thoughts?

Elizabeth said...

http://www.motherjones.com/mojoblog/archives/2005/
09/every_crisis_an.html

Sorry, I didn't edit that url when I pasted it in.

Sloanasaurus said...

"...What is truly shameless is the way republicans spin to suggest they are one thing (compassionate) when in fact they advocate for policies that are the opposite (contemptuous)...."

You need to point to examples to prove a statement like this. You just assume that a statement like this is true based on your on bias. To disprove your point, explain why all the poor and downtrodden of New Orleans have been living under Democratic policies and rule for 100 years yet are still poor?

....The “ownership society” doesn’t mean shit if you don’t have wealth already and don’t have an education. It certainly doesn’t mean shit if you’re poor and black.....

If you haven't noticed, Republicans are offering alternatives to the status quo such as School choice and private accounts for social security. With these ideas, poor people would actually own assets that they deserve and would be able to have the choice not to send their kid to a drug riddled school.

In contrast, Democrats are not offering alternatives other than raising taxes for more funding of the same failed policies

Some democrat policies have lifted people out of poverty. However, as a whole, democratic policies keep most people poor and dependent on the government.

The Exalted said...

Interesting that you hold a fringe group like moveon.org to be the equal of the President of the United States for grossly exploitative tactics. I wonder which one's message is more widespread and offends more people?

.......

Freeman Hunt said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brando said...

sloan, i know you're working hard. But if you want to join the reality based community you might want to consider that the number of Americans below the poverty line fell 2.29 percent annually in the Clinton years, but has since gone up 4.33 percent annually in the Bush years (Source: US Census Bureau). Regarding the “ownership society,” while the home ownership rate has increased 0.37 percent per year during the Bush administration, that is a slowdown compared to the average increases of 1.94 percent during the Clinton administration (Source: US Census Bureau).

John R Henry said...

ALH ipinions said...

"...elder Bush's 'Willie Horton" ad from 1988?"


And here I thought it was Algore who first ran the Willie Horton ad.

How quickly some people forget.

Ann Althouse said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ann Althouse said...

The Exalted: The issue I raised is the hypocrisy of MoveOn.org for criticizing Bush for using 9/11 images for political purposes and then using Katrina images for political purposes. You can talk about other things, but please remember that is the point I made so that you don't blunder into criticizing me for saying something I didn't say

Freeman Hunt said...

Brando, would you care to provide some working links? Or maybe to make an on-topic comment?

Brando said...

my apologies, freeman. the links should be:

http://www.census.gov/prod/2004pubs/p60-226.pdf

http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/housing/hvs/hvs.html

Daniel W. McAndrew said...

According to Rush Limbaugh's program today (in fact, just minutes before the end of his program) there was an audio played - purported to be from the upcoming, so-called, MoveOn.ugh commercial.

Based on what I heard, I highly doubt this audio to be from the upcoming commercial.

Or, even if it is - the whole thing is more than likely geared to raise everyone's hackles about the mere idea of such a commercial.

I think it's a joke, or parody. At the most, it's an attempt to test the temperatures of us all.

If you heard it clearly, as I did, at the trailing end of the audio - "paid for by George Soros and the Kayaking friends of Nancy Pelosi."

If this were a professional commercial intended for national audiences ... there would be a different disclaimer than what was heard.

I think someone's trying to fool us all.

Keep your thinking caps on, folks.

Joe Hogan said...

The line taken by MoveOn.org was previewed in the comments of Sen. Kennedy that Ann linked to yesterday. It would seem that the same clot of thinkers has now defined the point of attack. Strange though, isn't it that in all the prior research on Roberts no one on the left (caretakers of the poor and downtroden that they are)had thought of this "problem" with his nomination until shaken awake by the Katrina aftermath images and by the political usefulness of these images.

All's fair in politics, including inconsistency. Small minds and hobgoblins you know.

Goatwhacker said...

Daniel - I don't listen to Limbaugh very often, but I did today. It was clearly a spoof.

Wade_Garrett said...

If anything can be seen as shamelessly exploiting a tragedy for political gain, it was George W. Bush selling photographs of himself standing with a bullhorn at Ground Zero to raise money for his re-election campaign. This ad is pretty bad, but it needs to get in line behind that cynical electoral ploy.

APF said...

FWIW, apparently the ad wasn't really in production (.pdf link) after all...

"We regret any misunderstanding that may have arisen because of anything that our staff member might have told USA today's reporter.

"We continue to have the highest regard for that reporter's integrity."

Brando said...

Freeman, regarding being on topic. Let me put it this way, and if this isn't on topic enough for you, I don't know what will suffice.

What Ann does not say in her post is whether or not she agrees with Moveon.org’s original claim, which is that Bush went too far in politicizing 9/11. If she does agree with the original claim, then in a spirit of being fair and balanced it would behoove Ann question why we are tolerating rank hypocricy in our president who after all claims to be a man of integrity. If Ann does NOT agree with the original claim, then she has to explain why she thinks it is a problem now for Moveon.org to exploit NOLA for their political ends (If Bush can do it, why not Moveon.org?)

If Ann thinks that there is some relavent difference between what Bush did with 9/11 and what Moveon.org is doing with regard to Katrina thereby exculpating Bush from the charge of “shameless exploitation,” then we should also be free to explore whether or not there are any factors that exculpate Moveon.org from a similar charge. As aristotle famously said, like cases should be treated alike.

But Ann doesn’t explain any of these things. She is pulling the Bill O’Reilly bashing the “crazy liberal” line of nonsense. Hence I would submit that until further clarification Ann is being the rank hypocrite in that she is holding Moveon.org to a standard that she does not apply to herself or her side.

She is an esteemed law professor, you’d think she’d think through these things more consistently. It would certainly give her blog more credibility if she did.

Freeman Hunt said...

If Ann thinks that there is some relavent difference between what Bush did with 9/11 and what Moveon.org is doing with regard to Katrina thereby exculpating Bush from the charge of “shameless exploitation,” then we should also be free to explore whether or not there are any factors that exculpate Moveon.org from a similar charge.

You are missing the point. This is not what her post is about. The post is about a single organization which is/was/might have been engaging in behavior that it had specifically criticized when others engaged in it in the past. It makes no difference whether or not one thinks that the behavior is bad. The question is this: Is it hypocritical to criticize something and then do the same thing yourself?

Bruce Hayden said...

This is one reason that I do love Ann's blog. She can ask questions like this and end up in the middle. I agree with Freeman, it really doesn't matter whether President Bush did or did not exploit 9/11, but rather whether moveon.org is being hypocritical.

Bruce Hayden said...

However, jumping into the unintended fray, I do find what moveon.org is doing quite different from what President Bush did with that picture of himself at Ground Zero after 9/11. I see this as no different than John Kerry showing movies of himself (reenacting, it turns out) his exploits in Vietnam. Both were designed to show the candidates at their greatest moments. I think that if you condemn Mr. Bush for his Ground Zero ads, then you have to do the same with Mr. Kerry's Vietnam ads - as they arguably dishonor the 57,000 Americans who died in that war. And, indeed, some Vietnam vets do feel that way, given Mr. Kerry's later antiwar actions.

Nevertheless, I don't fault either Mr. Bush nor Mr. Kerry for trying to show themselves at their finest moments. And note that in both cases, the dead were safely buried and mourned when the ads came out.

I do see a difference here, since many of the dead have not yet been retrieved from that muck filling much of NOLA, more less been identified or buried. More than anything, I fault the timing. A couple of years from now, when a lot more of the facts are out, and after we have mourned our dead, I would think that it would be much more acceptable.