Since I have written so often, and for so long, about soldier suicides, and trauma among veterans in Iraq and Afghanistan and back at home, it was a relief to find a fun read yesterday in the new New York Times image-oriented “Lens” blog: The story behind the front page photo on May 12 that showed a few U.S. soldiers fighting the Taliban — one of them dressed mainly in pink boxer shorts and wearing shower sandals. Prize-winning Associated Press photog David Guttenfelder snapped it.
The image had gained some attention earlier, with the soldier’s name emerging, and the small detail that the shorts were of the “I Love NY” variety. His mother talked to a reporter for her hometown paper in Fort Worth and explained that he had purchased the item during a recent visit to New York. She said when she saw the photo she laughed for five minutes, and explained that her boy was a little guy but feisty and the image didn’t surprise her at all.
Last night there arrived this update: Secretary of Defense Gates, speaking at a dinner at the Intrepid Museum in New York City, observed: “Sometimes the public recognition isn’t always expected — or necessarily welcomed. Specialist Zachary Boyd recently was enjoying a well-deserved sleep when his post in eastern Afghanistan came under enemy attack. He immediately grabbed his rifle and rushed into a defensive position clad in his helmet, body armor, and pink boxer shorts that said ‘I Love New York.’
“Unfortunately — or fortunately, depending on your perspective — an AP photographer was there for a candid shot, a photo which ran shortly thereafter on the front page of the New York Times. Boyd later told his parents that: ‘I may not have a job anymore after the President has seen me out of uniform.’
“Well, let me tell you, the next time I visit Afghanistan I want to meet Specialist Boyd and shake his hand. Any soldier who goes into battle against the Taliban in pink boxers and flip-flops has a special kind of courage. And I can only wonder about the impact on the Taliban. Just imagine seeing that — a guy in pink boxers and flip-flops has you in his crosshairs — what an incredible innovation in psychological warfare. I can assure you that Specialist Boyd’s job is very safe indeed.”]]>
As it turns out, Scott Wheeler, the executive director of the National Republican Trust PAC, the group which paid for and produced the ad buy– worked on the infamous Clinton Chronicles– the discredited documentary that accused Bill Clinton of murdering his political opponents, engaging in drug running, and all kinds of other nefarious things that were largely either imaginary or fabricated. For those who don’t recall, or are too young to know, with the backing of the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, more than 400,000 copies of the video were distributed and although the film’s allegations were rightfully marginalized in the mainstream, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page amplified– sometimes as legitimate– many of the film’s most lurid allegations.
Here is an article I did way back in 1998 about how the Falwell backed Citizens for Honest Government often paid “witnesses” who had lurid stories to tell about Clinton to compensate them for appearing in the Clinton Chronicles and other conspiratorial films about Clinton which they produced. Many of the false allegations made by the “witnesses”– sometimes influenced by payments arranged by the group– were repeated as gospel on the Wall Street Journal editorial page, on the pages of the American Spectator, and on talk radio. (Other articles I wrote about the adventures of Citizens for Honest Government and those they paid can be found here, here, and here.)
Greg Sargent at TPM has the latest information about the expense and reach of the ad buy:
The National Republican Trust PAC, which has been airing an ad attacking Barack Obama’s association with Reverend Wright in three battleground states, has now put down for a national buy on five networks that will last from now through election day, a consultant with the group confirms to me.
The ad will run nationally on Fox, CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC for the next five days, the consultant, Rick Wilson, says — “all the way until election day.”
The ad, which you can watch here, features the now-infamous footage of Wright’s livelier sermons, and intones that Obama “never complained” about Wright “until he ran for President,” adding that Obama is “too radical, too risky.”
Previously, the ad was only running in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida, as Ben Smith reported the other day.
Now, however, the ad will run nationally, Wilson says, adding that the group just got through getting the spot vetted with network lawyers and is good to go.
Late Update: Wilson tells me that the PAC will have spent $2 million on this national buy by the end of tomorrow.
Here is the video of the ad itself:
Update: if the television networks are going to run these ads, shouldn’t there be an obligation for them– even if they just do short stories on their websites– to tell the public a little more about who is behind them?]]>