The Campaign Spot

Comparing the Campaign To ‘The Bataan Death March’

Obama, at a fundraiser, last night: “For those of you who are just weary of the primary, and feeling kind of ground down or that it’s like a Bataan death march, I just want everybody to know that the future is bright.”

Jen Rubin: “Yeah, just like that. (Note to our Democratic friends: avoid analogies which compare, even in jest, the minor stresses of campaigning to war crimes; there’s a candidate out there who knows something about real wars and real suffering.)”
Actually, David Axelrod made the comparison earlier this year:

“They are going to have a very hard choice to make after Tuesday if she loses Texas or Ohio,” Mr Obama’s top adviser David Axelrod said. “There are people in the party who are very concerned about this turning into some kind of a Bataan Death March.”

I’m not going to jump up and down and demand an apology or suggest that Obama is insensitive to veterans or anything like that. I’m just going to note that shortly after 9/11, when some were proclaiming the death of irony, there was a widespread sense that it was silly to apply military metaphors, associated with killing and death, to mundane inconveniences.
No one would think to call the Carville and Stephanopolous operation in Little Rock “The War Room” (also the title of the documentary that covered it) during a time of actual war. Football player Kellen Winslow got a little grief when he declared, “It’s war. They’re out there to kill you, so I’m out there to kill them. … I’m a soldier.”
Calling a long and tiring campaign a death march is about one step removed from Reductio ad Hitlerium, because while I’m sure the candidates, their staffs, and the people who cover them are exhausted, it just doesn’t compare to war atrocities. As Rubin notes, it gives off a whiff of “poor me, poor me” whining.
Obama gets a pass this time, but this metaphor ought to be mothballed.