Some anti-Bush critics were so nonpartisan they could not recall whether they voted for Bush or Gore. On MSNBC's "Hardball," Monica Gabrielle, who gained prominence for slashing the Bush ads as "a slap in the face of the murders of 3,000 people," was asked how she voted in 2000. She said, "Politics don't have anything to do with it." Chris Matthews pressed again. She claimed: "You know what? To be honest with you, I don't even recall."
Uh-huh. Maybe Mrs. Gabrielle can recall her political position last summer, when she complained to the left-wing Web site Salon.com: "We've been fighting for nearly 21 months -- fighting the administration, the White House." She told Matthews that Bush spent September 11 in a schoolroom and then on his airplane, so he wasn't a leader. So she is uncommitted on Bush's re-election? She has no agenda? Her activism can be seen as a laudable response to losing her husband, but she should not be presented as having no axe to grind.
Our sensitivity to every image in a Bush ad is not matched by any sensitivity to the tone of Bush's critics. One widow, Kristin Breitweiser, even claimed, "Three thousand people were murdered on Bush's watch." Can you imagine a widow ever getting national media exposure by throwing hardballs about murders on President Clinton's "watch" in Oklahoma City, or the Khobar Towers, or our embassies in Kenya or Tanzania? That would be seen as a low blow, not worthy of broadcast. But not in this election year.
The media are at their most hypocritical when they suggest Bush is unfairly benefiting from 9-11 in his ads. But who has piled on the profits with hours and hours of specials, and newspaper and magazine special editions, devoted to 9-11? Because Bush has done a good enough job in preventing attacks on the homeland, the media can go back to profiting from the usual sludge on Martha Stewart and Kobe Bryant and Michael Jackson.
Imagine how the media will react when the Bush people go negative!