Its clear that the


It’s clear that the coalescing Bush administration position on those 9/11-image-laced ads is that the president couldn’t ‘ignore’ 9/11 in the campaign.

Really heart-rending all the tough binds history puts this president in, isn’t it?

In any case, this is really a head-fake on what people are really saying.

Nobody denies or doubts that 9/11 and the president’s and the nation’s reaction to it are going to be central to this campaign. It could hardly be otherwise. It’s a major national catastrophe that happened on his watch. And what he did before and after are fair game for both sides.

But there’s discussing 9/11 and there’s discussing it. And I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that using images of dead bodies being pulled out of the wreckage in a campaign commercial is a tad over the line.

If he’s looking for emotive images that show his crisis leadership in action, why not show a clip from the speech to the nation he gave just after the attacks? That was a challenge virtually everyone, myself included, thought he rose to with great merit and grace.

In other words, the point isn’t that 9/11 shouldn’t be discussed — as though there were anyway it wouldn’t be — only that it shouldn’t be exploited in the crudest ways imaginable.

Remember that a GOP insider told The Hill a couple weeks ago that there is a “real possibility … we could see President Bush giving his acceptance speech at Ground Zero. It’s clearly a venue they’re considering.”

Let’s be clear. The White House hasn’t said they’re going to do this. And we don’t have any direct knowledge that they’re considering it. But the idea is apparently being widely discussed in Republican circles.

I mean, the question isn’t whether that would be a crass use of the 9/11 tragedies for political gain. The question is whether it’s possible to imagine anything more crass. Isn’t ground zero something like a graveyard?

What could be worse? The president addressing the crowd wearing a pelt from a recently executed Guantanamo prisoner? Personally executing Saddam on stage with a scimitar?

Not to be flippant, but could anything be more crass than accepting a presidential nomination on ground that is still mixed with the bodies of thousands of Americans?

Lincoln dedicated a cemetery at Gettysburg; he didn’t hold the 1864 Republican convention there.

I know it probably seems like I’m piling on here. And perhaps I am. But this seems like such a compact example of the sort of hyper-politicization of this national tragedy that is one of the main reasons Democrats are so energized this year and eager to drive the president from office. People miss the point of this if they view it in isolation. I think the danger for the White House is that this plays to suspicions held by a not-insubstantial part of the electorate that they’ve been using this as a political lever from the start.