Anybody else notice this?
This is from Robert Novak's February 9th column
At the same time, the Bush administration is going directly to the public with its war message. Raul Damas, associate director of political affairs at the White House, has been on the phone directly to Republican county chairmen to arrange local speeches by active duty military personnel to talk about their experiences in Iraq. To some Republican members, this unusual venture connotes a desire to go directly to the people to sell the president's position without having to deal with members of Congress.
One of Karl Rove's deputies is arranging for active duty military personnel to make speeches at Republican party events? The president is commander-in-chief. He's also head of the Republican party. But he's supposed to make at least some effort to show that the two jobs aren't melded into one.
The military, for good reasons, actually has quite detailed regulations
about how active duty military personnel can and cannot participate in political events. One of the most referenced is the restriction on military personnel appearing at political events in uniform.
For instance, one directive states that active duty personnel may "Attend partisan and nonpartisan political meetings, rallies, or conventions as a spectator when not in uniform." They may not "Participate in partisan political management, campaigns, or conventions (unless attending a convention as a spectator when not in uniform)." (See a recent reissuance of the directive here
Now, we don't know if these military personnel are appearing in uniform or not. And much of this probably turns on what constitutes a 'political event'. But to my mind, an event organized by a Republican party official at the direction of the White House political office is by definition
a political event. That's just obvious, isn't it?
Another question. We know how the White House political office knows who's a Republican County Chairman. How do they know which active duty military officers in a given area want to make speeches supporting the administration current policies in Iraq? Think about that.
In the United States, hearing from soldiers fighting in foreign wars has long been a way to maintain morale on the home front. But soldiers (& sailors, airmen and marines) aren't supposed to be dragooned by the president's political operatives into the GOP spin operation.
It seems that they are. Late Update
: Yes, someone else did notice: Robert Schlesinger
at the Huffington Post