Don't Exploit the Dead

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee crossed a line it should not have when it distributed an online fundraising solicitation containing images of the caskets of American soldiers who had been killed in action.

No political party has a right to exploit the fallen Americans in those caskets, and the tragedy their families have suffered, in order to raise money for its campaigns.

As the “official campaign arm of Democrats in the House,” the DCCC posted a video that hyped “A New Direction” Democrats would bring to the country if they win control of Congress. The video concluded with celebratory images of leading Democrats, but began with disconcerting photos of the flag-draped coffins of U.S. soldiers returning home for burial and a rifle stuck into desert ground with a Kevlar helmet fixed on it, a symbol used to mark a fallen soldier. These images were followed by grainy photos of President Bush and Karl Rove and the caption: “American families are paying the price.”

To be sure, debating the war is entirely legitimate. Democrats have just as much right to campaign against the way President Bush has conducted the war in Iraq, or the war against al Qaeda, as Republicans have to campaign in defense of the President’s policies and/or criticizing the alternatives—or lack of alternatives—the Democrats have proposed.

But the more serious the issue facing the country, the more serious the political debate should be. And there is no issue more serious than war, which brings with it the loss of American lives, as well as huge potential risks and benefits to the security, prosperity and liberty of our country.

The DCCC video was unimaginative, uninformative, and likely would have insulted the intelligence of many viewers even if it had not exploited the casket and helmet images to try to jerk money out of contributors. But with those images, which exploit the grief of those who knew and loved the fallen American warriors they represented, the DCCC went beyond the pale.

DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D.-Ill.) should pull the video and find a decent means to plead for cash.