WASHINGTON — Liberal activist group MoveOn.org raked in Hollywood cash last year under its campaign to oust President Bush in the next election.
Industryites got on board for its contest to find the best anti-Bush ad: Moby organized the contest and celebrities such as Jack Black, Al Franken, Janeane Garofalo, Jessica Lange, Michael Mann, Michael Moore, Michael Stipe, Gus Van Sant and Eddie Vedder were enlisted as judges, along with top Democratic political advisers such as James Carville.
Late last week, however, the group stumbled into a firestorm when it allowed a TV ad to appear on its Web site that morphed an image of Bush into Adolf Hitler.
Sunday evening — a week before the group was to unveil the contest’s 15 finalists at a gala awards show at New York’s Hammerstein’s Ballroom. — Replubicans discovered the Hitler ad on the MoveOn org Web site.
The ad was not one of the finalists selected, but that did not stop Republicans from going on the attack.
Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie called the ad “the worst and most vile form of political hate speech,” and urged the Democratic presidential candidates to repudiate the ad.
Jewish groups also railed against the use of Hitler to make a political point in U.S. presidential politics.
“Politics and preparing for a presidential election is one thing,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He said comparing the Bush administration’s fight against Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein with the policies of Adolf Hitler “has no place in the legitimate discourse of American politics.”
The ad shows several images of Bush with the words “God told me to strike at Al Qaeda.” Images of Hitler then appear with the words, “And then He instructed me to strike at Saddam.”
“Sound familiar?” The final words of ad’s text ask.
Eli Pariser defended MoveOn’s contest, stressing the Hitler ad was only one of 1,500 submissions to the Web site and was taken down Dec. 31.
MoveOn.org continued to tout the contest Monday, encouraging people to go to the Web site and vote for a winner from the 15 finalists.
Many of the finalist ads carry anti-war themes including titles such as the “Human Cost of War” and “Army of One;” other titles attempt to paint Bush as an elitists, such as “Leave No Billionaire Behind” and “Hood Robbin’.”