Using X for Political Gain

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Democrats used 9/11 for political gain all through the conference. Every time they mentioned it, their statement was intended to get people to support John Kerry and the party's agenda. Yet they're going to be harshly critical of the Republicans is there's any bare mention of 9/11 or if Bush even in passing mentions his leadership during that time. There's an inconsistency here. That's not what I'm interested in right now, though. What I'm wondering is why it's wrong to use something for political gain, especially given how common it is.

Another example would be Al Sharpton's mention in his DNC speech of the Sudan. He was clearly using their situation for the political gain of his party. He was also advocating paying attention more to problems like that that to problems he doesn't care about. Is there something wrong with using the Sudan's situation for political gain? On one level, it disrespects their suffering to try to advance an agenda over it. Still, he had a point to make, and it couldn't be made without an example. Does anyone think there's something wrong with that?

I've seen people complain about the use of video footage of soldiers' funerals in Fahrenheit 9/11. He's a jerk, perhaps, for using it without the permission of the families to make a point that they don't even agree with, but is it using the tragedy of that family for political gain? Is that in itself wrong?

How is it different from what Sharpton did? Perhaps there's a difference in that he simply wants to make Bush look bad, and Sharpton may really have a policy in mind for the Sudan (though I doubt it, and he gave no indication that he had one to recommend). The principle of it is simply to point out something you consider wrong and then to push for a different policy on such issues. Is that wrong?

Let's come back to the Bush use of 9/11 footage. He wants to argue for a united push behind the war on terrorism. He wants to argue that the same strength he showed during that time will be present in his second term. He wants to argue that the event of 9/11 may not be a one-time thing and that a second attack would be more likely under John Kerry's leadership (or lack thereof). To remind people of 9/11 in that context seems as appropriate to me as John Kerry's use of Vietnam, during which he showed some courage and conviction, to show that he, despite his Senate record, can still bring up the courage and conviction of his youth. Is he using Vietnam for political gain? Is that wrong?

I don't think all these examples are equivalent, for the record. What I'm interested in seeing is why they're different and what makes it ok in some cases but not in others. Any ideas?


One Hand Clapping gives a Mark Steyn quote that's highly relevant to this post.

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