MOVING AMERICA BACKWARDS….Some of Bush’s more blindly loyal supporters are taking to the airwaves to bolster support for the war in Iraq. You’ll never guess what they’re saying.
The television commercials are attention-grabbing: Newly found Iraqi documents show that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, including anthrax and mustard gas, and had “extensive ties” to al Qaeda. The discoveries are being covered up by those “willing to undermine support for the war on terrorism to selfishly advance their shameless political ambitions.”
The hard-hitting spots are part of a recent public-relations barrage aimed at reversing a decline in public support for President Bush’s handling of Iraq. But these advertisements aren’t paid for by the Republican National Committee or other established White House allies. Instead, they are sponsored by Move America Forward, a media-savvy outside advocacy group that has become one of the loudest — and most controversial — voices in the Iraq debate.
In one sense, I can understand the appeal of insisting — facts be damned — that Bush was right all along. After all, in 2002 and 2003, when arguments about WMD and ties to al Qaeda dominated, the war enjoyed considerable political support. It’s only when the discussion shifted towards reality that Americans started to believe that the war was a mistake. In this sense, it was only a matter of time before some brilliant conservative strategist said, “I know! Those old arguments worked before, so let’s use them again!”
Just as importantly, Move America Forward, which claims to have no formal connections to the White House or the RNC, has raised more than $1 million for its efforts — and they’ve been awfully busy. The recall effort against Gray Davis? These guys. Ads supporting John Bolton’s United Nations nomination? Ditto. Backing abuse at Guantanamo Bay? Them again. Five far-right radio-show hosts broadcasting from Iraq for a week? Same group.
And now Move America Forward, which somehow manages to be a tax-exempt non-profit organization, is hitting the airwaves with bizarre ads about non-existent weapons stockpiles. I have to admit, the group has the shtick down pat — spend a little money on modest ad buys with a ridiculous message, then wait for news outlets to start repeating the ad as part of their political coverage.
It’s an effective page from the far-right playbook. Just ask the Swiftboat guys.