by TODD J. GILLMAN, DALLAS MORNING NEWS
WASHINGTON – News that former President George W. Bush had heart surgery Tuesday to unblock an artery stunned everyone. The House GOP’s campaign arm used the event as an opening to seek donations.
Whether such things are crass is in the eye of the beholder.
“The procedure went according to plan and Bush is in good spirits. President George W. Bush courageously defended our freedom and our country, and we are missing his days in office now more than ever have before,” the National Republican Congressional Committee wrote in a mass email urging recipients to sign a “Get Well Soon” card for Bush.
The link clicks through to a page that immediately asks recipients to “Chip in $5 to help us send President Bush a bouquet of Bluebonnets – the Texas state flower.”
Other check boxes are available, up to $250.
“We wanted to create an outlet for Americans to show that their thoughts and prayers are with President Bush as he recovers. Everyone here is wishing him a speedy recovery,” said Daniel Scarpinato, spokesman for the NRCC.
Democrats might see a bit of hypocrisy in the NRCC’s sympathy-and-fundraising move.
After the Boston Marathon bombing, Republicans blasted the Democratic National Committee for a mass email letting supporters thank first responders, as long as they provided their names, email addresses and zip codes – “valuable currency for any political operation,” as the Boston Globe reported at the time.
Democratic officials insisted they had no intention of using the data for fundraising. But Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, called that data mining effort “disgraceful” and in “very poor taste,” according to the Globe, and he accused Democrats of “capitalizing on terrorism and Boston’s first responders to boost their fundraising lists.”
One of Scarpinato’s colleagues at the NRCC echoed the critique at the time, saying that “this kind of disgracefully insensitive tactic should offend people regardless of political affiliation.”
As for the bluebonnets, clearly not all of the money raised from this email campaign will go to bouquets for Bush. Scarpinato said the flowers will be from all the folks who signed the e-card.