Remember way back when, in January 2002, when George W. Bush claimed that he had "no ambition whatsoever to use [9/11] as a political issue"? How times have changed. Blue Lemur obtained and posted an RNC mailing that features John Kerry's obscured and darkened face over the question "How can John Kerry lead America in a time of war?" over newspaper images of -- that's right -- the burning World Trade Center towers and headlines from Sept. 12, 2001, including this from the Orlando Sentinel: "Today, our nation saw evil." Dick Cheney has told crowds that if John Kerry wins, we'll be hit again by terrorists. This RNC mailer just adds the visuals. Perfectly tasteless.
Not that we should be surprised by this. Faced with an energized Democratic opposition coming out of the primaries, the president's re-election campaign proved back in March that it was willing to exploit 9/11 in campaign ads. In response, the New York Times editorialized, "Any political candidate who attempts to piggyback onto those [9/11] emotions deserves to be shunned by the electorate." Well, the electorate has four more days.
Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.