April 26, 2006
Photo oops

First noted over the weekend, the story of Rep. John Carter getting his picture taken in Iraq with the son of Mary Beth Harrell, his opponent in November, made it to the Washington Post on Wednesday.

Vast numbers of lawmakers have signed on to the congressional delegation shuttle to Baghdad. And nary a one has failed to ensure that troops from the home district - who, of course, have nothing better to do - are rounded up to have lunch and talk to their representative.

These chats - and the fine photos they produce - pay handsome dividends. Obviously there are the bragging rights: "Well, I've been over there talking with our troops, with Jimmy Jones and Sally Smith - whose parents are here today - and with others, and let me tell you . . ."

More ominously, the lawmaker might even return from these forays thinking he or she actually knows what’s going on over there. A truly frightening thought.

But it's the photos with the brass, Iraqi leaders and especially the troops - suitable for signing, for newsletters and for campaign literature - that are the key benefit, though some photos don't quite work out.

For example, here's a very nice shot of Rep. John Carter (R-Tex.), whose district includes Fort Hood and its 4th Infantry Division. As always, some troops from home were selected to meet with the congressman.

Apparently somebody had a sense of humor. Carter found out afterward that this warm "grip 'n' grin" shot was with Sgt. 1st Class Rob Harrell, whose mother, Mary Beth Harrell, a lawyer in Killeen, Tex., will be Carter's Democratic opponent in November. The challenger's husband, we're told, is retired military. Another son, also on active duty, is to be deployed in Iraq this summer.

You can see the picture here. There's also a good Kos diary on the topic. I love this quote from that diary:

Yet another classic case of a Republican trying to look tough, and running into a Democrat who is.

Ouch. As Eye on Williamson notes, Carter was not happy about being caught unprepared like this. Harrell has been campaigning pretty hard on her military connections, so one of his staffers really ought to have known about this. Underdog campaigns literally can't buy this kind of publicity.

In fairness to Carter, he was gracious enough to call Harrell upon his return and tell her that her son was doing fine. Good on him for that.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 26, 2006 to Election 2006 | TrackBack