Monday, September 8, 2008

The Politicization of 9/11: Was Olbermann Wrong?

Having just seen the 9/11 tribute that the Republicans put on during the RNC, I have to say that I was surprised at the overt politicization of that day. I thought that McCain may take the high road on this and not use the Karl Roveian tactic of exploiting the tragedy for Republican gain. Alas, McCain's campaign is not above plastering images of that horrible day with a dramatic voice over convincing people that America is under constant threat and can only be protected by a Republican in the White House.

By now it is almost common knowledge to those who read the newspapers and follow politics in this country that 9/11 has previously been used as a political scare tactic. Back in the hotly contested 2006 Congressional elections, Bush infamously uttered that if the Democrats win, America loses due to the fact that if given the power, the Democrats would allow the terrorists to win in Iraq and make America less safe. In 2004, Bush used images of 9/11 in his campaign ads. The shamelessness of exploiting this national tragedy was disgusting.

And then the 2008 RNC tribute. The video showed numerous images of terrorist attacks (the U.S.S. Cole, the Iranian Hostage Crisis, etc.), blaming "Jihadists" (for a brief definition of what it means, see this post), and then culminated on the attacks of 9/11 (mysteriously leaving out the Oklahoma City Bombing). A deep voice narrated the affair, and at one point insinuated that McCain was the sole presidential candidate with the aptitude to win the War on Terror (overlooking the fact that one can never win a war on terror as it is a concept and not a tangible being). The voice says, "This is a war America will win; we'll have a president who knows how." It's pretty clear that the video meant John McCain considering it was being played before the man's speech at his party's convention.

After the clip, Tom Browkow, with Chuck Todd silently sitting at his side, tried to put the video into context, citing some polls that discussed the concern of some voters of Obama's ability to fight the War on Terror versus McCain's ability, and then went to Keith Olbermann. Olbermann was visibly upset and apologized to the viewers for what he thought was highly inappropriate and exploitative images of 9/11 (for which he got demoted). While I did not know anyone who died that day, I can imagine that if I did one of the last things I would want is for someone to repeatedly show images of it in order to try to muster up political strength. Don't forget, every time you see one of those planes crash into the Towers, that's over 200 instant deaths; you are watching over 200 people lose their lives instantly on that screen. Do you think that the victims' families and friends would appreciate the Republican Party using these images of their loved ones' deaths in order to scare people into voting for McCain?

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