Thursday, August 23, 2007

Forgotten Soldier

Joan Walsh, on Salon, like many of us, is kind of squicked by Ari Fleischer's inability to name Iraq war veteran John Kreisel, the paraplegic soldier featured in Ari's multi-million-dollar pro-war ad series.

Back story: Fleischer, as you know, was White House press secretary, or lead propagandist. Now he has his own propaganda outfit called, fulsomely, Freedom's Watch, and it has received funding--can we guess the source?--to produce a five-week, $15 million ad series to support Bush's discretionary war.

Premiering the series on "Hardball" yesterday, Fleischer pulled up nada when Mike Barnacle merely asked the name of the soldier he'd trotted out to flak the war. You'd think he'd know.

I'm pretty sure that this story wouldn't walk except that it so neatly symbolizes the truth of Republican chickenhawks' feelings about the actual people doing the bleeding.

If BushCo had not systematically slashed veterans' benefits, or had sent our kids to war with instead of without top-quality armor, vehicles (and preparations), Prince Ari's carelessness wouldn't have hit a nerve. But given known facts--that Bush chose this war, that GOP hawks don't ask their sons and daughters to actually fight or anything, and that Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bush couldn't be bothered to provide the best strategy, arms, and care possible--it did.

Still, if Ari had had the decency to blush or apologize, we might be less critical. Instead, he out-Tuckered Carlson. His reaction, insouciant and arrogant, insinuated that the question was somehow about a detail no one of his import could possibly be expected to know. And that said it all.

It's of a piece, isn't it?