Friday, May 30, 2008

Hill's two Memorial Day problems

From the AP's Emily Veach, complaints about Baron Hill politicizing a Memorial Day event.

U.S. Rep. Baron Hill’s comments to a Memorial Day ceremony in southern Indiana’s Dubois County have upset members of a veterans group who feel they were too political.

Hill, a Democrat, told the Dubois County Veterans Council’s Memorial Day ceremony that President Bush planned to veto a GI Bill approved by Congress. He encouraged the crowd to ask the president to let the bill become law.

“I don’t want to make this political, but the president has said that he is going to veto this bill. For the life of me I don’t understand why,” Hill said in his speech. “And I hope that you’ll take the time, in honor of our veterans, to write to the president of the United States and ask him to change his mind.”

As the famous saying goes, "I don't want to do X, but..." usually means "I want to do X".

Ken Schuetter, secretary of the veteran’s council, said he was infuriated by Hill’s comments at the program in the city about 40 miles northeast of Evansville.

“It was not a political event. He made it political,” Schuetter said....

Schuetter said Hill’s staff asked for him to speak at the ceremony and that the group was considering a ban on politicians speaking at its events.

I can sympathize (at least in part) with Hill crossing a (perceived) line. When speaking in non-political settings, as a politician, it's not completely clear what's allowable, reasonable, or optimal in terms of political content.

That said, I would have been quite reluctant to speak on anything specific in a "memorial" setting. And it looks especially bad, since Hill invited himself to speak at the event.

Finally, I'm confused that Baron has enough time to politicize Memorial Day events, but not enough time to debate gas prices-- something he thought was so vital in May 2006 (when gas prices were $2.60/gallon).