When a flag-draped body is different from a flag-draped body

How's that again, Mr. Leader?

Published July 18, 2006 1:29PM (EDT)

And sometimes, we're not the only ones at a loss for words.

Over the course of the past week, we've received a steady stream of e-mails from the National Republican Congressional Committee in which various GOP members and their supporters express outrage over a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Internet ad that featured images of flag-covered coffins lined up inside the body of a military aircraft. The DCCC has pulled the ad, but Republicans are still seeking mileage out of it; in an e-mail we received just yesterday, the NRCC identified three groups that are just as outraged as it is.

The catch, of course, is that the Bush-Cheney campaign ran a TV ad in 2004 that showed a flag-covered body being carried from the wreckage of the World Trade Center.

Can you say "double standard"?

Rep. John Boehner can't.

As Greg Sargent notes at the American Prospect, the House majority leader tried hard to distinguish between the Democrats' ad and the president's in an interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer. It didn't go so well. From the Enquirer:

"Questioned by reporters on what the difference was, Boehner seemed tongue-tied. 'These were American citizens killed by terrorists. That is a very different policy issue than American soldiers dying on the battlefield protecting the rights and freedoms of American people.'

"'How so?' a reporter asked.

"'How so? You want me to describe the difference between men and women of the military out there defending the American people, and victims -- victims -- of terrorist activities?' Boehner asked.

"'They were both killed by opponents, right? Terrorists or Islamic insurgents?' a reporter pressed.

"An exasperated Boehner said: 'The World Trade Center victims were victims of a terrorist act here on our shore and I think all Americans were appalled that this did in fact happen. But I think the differences, in terms of the images, are as clear as night and day.'"

Yes, they are. One is an image of a flag-covered body used in an ad by the Republican president of the United States. The other is an image of flag-covered bodies used by the Democrats who challenge him. One represents a victim of a terrorist attack that the president and his party use to justify most everything they do. The other represents victims of an unnecessary war whose consequences the president and his party would like very much to ignore.

As Boehner says, it's as clear as night and day.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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2006 Elections 9/11 Iraq War John Boehner R-ohio