From: William Saletan
To: Jacob Weisberg
Where to begin with this despicable video?
Six months ago, MoveOn.org held a contest to find the best amateur ad against President Bush. The group invited people to make ads and submit them to its Web site. Some idiot spliced images of Bush together with images of Adolf Hitler, evidently trying to make Bush look like a warmonger. His submissions, which arrived with 1,500 others—too many to be screened quickly—were posted on the contest Web site. As soon as MoveOn.org leaders realized what was in the ad, they removed and denounced it.
The Bush campaign, outraged by the mixture of Nazi images with images of an American politician, has decided that the best response to this offense is to repeat it.
The Bush video's opening white-on-black graphic says, "The Faces of John Kerry's Democratic Party. The Coalition of the Wild-eyed." Next comes a parade of angry speakers: Al Gore, Hitler, Howard Dean, Michael Moore, Dick Gephardt, Hitler, Gore, and Kerry.
Is Bush suggesting that Hitler fits in with this group? Don't be silly, Jake. Bush's aides insist they're just showing the Hitler footage so you can see the filth Democrats are putting out. But we already know how Bush's GOP presents images from Democratic ads when it wants to discredit them. In 2000, Republican National Committee ads repeatedly depicted Al Gore's commercials running on a small television screen in a kitchen. The RNC ads didn't show the Gore ads at full size on your screen because the RNC didn't want the images in the Gore ads to be taken at face value.
This time, the Bush campaign shows the Hitler images at full size, in an unexplained sequence with Gore, Dean, Gephardt, and Kerry. Draw your own conclusions.
How does the Bush camp identify the Hitler footage? "Sponsored by Moveon.Org" says a label on the first Hitler clip, evidently put there by the miscreants who submitted the ad. "Images from Moveon.Org ad" says the Bush campaign's label on the second Hitler clip. The only organization that doesn't identify the clips as a "Moveon.org ad" is MoveOn.org, which denounced the ad and never "sponsored" it. But never mind. Instead of apologizing for this implicit misrepresentation of sponsorship, the Bush campaign has made the misrepresentation explicit. "The following video contains remarks made by and images from ads sponsored by Kerry Supporters," says a graphic appended to the beginning of the video.
The Bush campaign's claim that the amateur Hitler ads represent "John Kerry's Democratic Party" is laughable. Kerry didn't control MoveOn.org, and MoveOn.org didn't make the ads. When the ads were submitted, the membership of MoveOn.org largely supported Dean, the candidate who had nearly wiped Kerry off the map. Kerry had just mortgaged his house to get the cash Democrats were refusing to give him. The suggestion that he controlled the party is preposterous—but only slightly more preposterous than the suggestion that Kerry is responsible what Dean and Gephardt said while running against him, or what Gore and Moore said while supporting candidates who were running against him. Not to mention that the question Gore poses in the ad—"How dare they drag the good name of the United States of America through the mud of Saddam Hussein's torture prison?"—is well warranted.