Strangers to the Truth

By Bleifuss, Joel | In These Times, April 2006 | Go to article overview

Strangers to the Truth


Bleifuss, Joel, In These Times


COMING SOON TO a media market near you:

The GOP (Grand Old Prevaricators), who brought you the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004, have been test-marketing another TV ad campaign.

The fabrication this time: the war in Iraq. The target: any Democratic candidate who speaks out against the U.S. mission during the mid-term elections. The venue for the test is Minnesota.

Two ads have run so far. Both have caused a furor.

The first ad featured footage of the World Trade Center burning and testimony from soldiers who have fought in Iraq. Lt. Col. Robert Stephenson of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, tells viewers: "You'd never know it from news reports but our enemy in Iraq is al Qaeda, the same terrorists who killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11." And Capt. Mark Weber of the U.S. Army Reserve ominously asks: "Where do you want to fight terrorists? [pause] We want to fight them and destroy them in Iraq."

The second featured heartfelt testimonials from parents who share the screen with giant sepia-toned images of their sons who died in Iraq. That ad says in part:

Voiceover: "September 11, 2001, the battle began on the streets of America."

Patrick Kelly, who lost his son Bryan: "These people are out to destroy us."

Chuck Larson, U.S. Army Reserves: "If we were not fighting al Qaeda in Iraq, I am convinced we would be fighting them in America and all we have to do is look back at September 11."

Merrilee Carlson, who lost her son Michael: "And thank God there are people like Michael who would put their lives on the line for the rest of our country and our world."

Both ads conclude with this slogan, "Iraq: The front line in the war on terror."

After the first ad, Democratic Farmer Labor (DFL) Party Chairman Brian Melendez told WCCO, the CBS affiliate, "There is room for a lot of puffery in politics, there is room for spin, there is room for opinion, there is room for disagreement, there shouldn't be room for lies and this ad is about lies."

WCCO reporter Pat Kessler was more restrained. Characterizing the ads as "very misleading," he informed viewers that the 9/11 Commission had found no evidence of any connection between Iraq and al Qaeda. (WCCO ran the ads, but KSTP, the ABC affiliate, refused to do so.)

But Bev Anderson perhaps put it best. She wrote to WCCO and, as the station reported, said the ads were similar to "a tactic Hitler used ... repeat a lie often enough and people come to believe it as fact."

Though WCCO did not note the fact, she was quoting Hitler's propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, who said:

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.

Bush himself said much the same thing, though less eloquently, on May 24, 2005, in Rochester, N.Y., when out on the road trying to sell his Social Security scam. He told the crowd gathered at the Athena Performing Arts Center:

See in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.

But will this shit fly in Minnesota?

TV viewer Liz Carlson doubted whether the ads would be effective. She wrote WCCO and said, "Minnesotans can recognize bullshit even if they wrap it in an American flag."

But why Minnesota? Republicans have their eyes on the U.S. Senate seat, currently held by Democratic Sen. Mark Dayton, who is stepping down. It's the best chance they have to pick up a seat in the mid-term elections. The goal of the ad campaign is to inoculate the GOP's chosen candidate, Rep. …

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