I'm on everyone's email list. In addition to every kind of spam imaginable, I get regular emails from the NRDC, from Moveon.org, from the NRA, from the Cato Institute and most recently from my fellow Franklin & Marshall graduate Ken Mehlman at the Republican National Committee.
Ken emailed to let me (and probably a million others) know about a new video the RNC has put together showcasing comments by prominent Democrats on the need to go to war with Iraq. It's quite a selection, covering a five year period and featuring all the major luminaries of the party from Pelosi to Reid to a Clinton doubleheader. The video wraps up with a segment from President Bush's speech on Veterans day. The production values are nice and the message is clear, but it just doesn't work as well as it could have.
The clips from the Democrats on the video are pretty damning. They're not just supportive of war with Iraq, most of them are downright enthusiastic. They're voices of absolute conviction expressing certainty that Saddam has WMDs, that he's a threat to the US and that the only way to save the world is to remove him from power, and many of the statements are from after the war began or from the critical period when the Clinton administration was laying the groundwork for the war that Bush eventually executed. There's no qualification or equivocation, they sound about as hawkish as anyone I've ever heard. Knowing what these same people are saying now the hypocrisy is too obvious to ignore.
Yet the concluding section from Bush's speech is a real mistake. I guess it works if the video is intended for an audience of party loyalists, but I can't believe that's who they are targeting. Bush's comments are from the section of his speech where he condemns Democrats for changing their positions and trying to rewrite history for purely partisan reasons. It's the obvious criticism, but placed right after the statements from the Democrats it makes it look very much like Bush is lowering himself to their level, and it certainly is obvious. We can figure it out perfectly well without his explanation. Up until that point their own words stand as an incontrovertible testament to their hypocrisy. Nothing more really needs to be said, unless it would have been to include clips from even more Democrats - and there are plenty who were left out. Putting Bush after it looks weak and defensive. It would have been better to just leave them hanging in the wind once they put the rope around their own necks.