General Petraeus and the MoveOn Ad

The problem with political discourse in this country can be seen by looking over at Memeorandum today. While I would expect discussion of Petraeus’ report to be the top matter of discussion, the conservative blogosphere has succeeded in making the MoveOn ad the major issue of the day. I don’t necessarily disagree with all their objections to the ad, but I do disagree as to how significant an issue this is.

The offensive aspect of the MoveOn ad is the slogan “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?” Personally I would have concentrated on the areas of disagreement on policy as opposed to a personal attack on Patraeus. Ideally I wouldn’t even have had any ad critical of the report before it was reviewed, which is why I still have not posted on the report until I can review it in more detail, but I also realize that this is not how politics works.

While the ad was, as John Kerry put it, “over the top,” there’s also a matter of perspective. The question of what we do in Iraq is what is important. It may be a sign of the weakness of their position that many conservative bloggers prefer to attack MoveOn over an ad as opposed to defending the Bush administration’s Iraq policy.

What is troublesome about the calls to denounce MoveOn is that their ad is tame compared to the usual vitriol we’ve come to expect from the right. It certainly is not valid that Petraeus has betrayed his country, but nor are the accusations of the Swift Boat liars true about John Kerry. I’m far more concerned about a concerted smear campaign than I am about a silly play on someone’s name for a single ad. I also wonder how many of those calling for the denouncement of MoveOn also repeat the conservative memes that liberals are socialists, that opponents of the war are opposed to defending the country, or, as Ann Coulter has written, that we’re all a bunch of traitors.

There is a problem with the political atmosphere in this country. The MoveOn ad was over the top and does contribute to the problem, but ultimately the problem stems from the tactics most commonly employed by the right. Unfortunately many of the left feel that the only effective response is to mimic their tactics, and plenty of finger pointing can be done by both sides. I just wonder how many of those pointing their fingers at MoveOn are guilty of much worse, or at least accept far worse from those supporting the Republican Party.

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  1. 1
    absent observer says:

    The MoveOn people should not have attacked a weakness. They should have attacked a strength… like:
    “Protecting us from Terrorism — You Michael Landon-Wannabe motherfuckers.”

  2. 2
    Amare says:

    I actually think this makes the left look bad in this situation. I consider myself somewhat of a centrist, and the ad was offensive to me. It screamed of immaturity. I would think the same if it was the reverse, if this was something the GOP was pulling.

  3. 3
    Aakash says:

    I think paying so much attention to is a waste of our time. Plus, I think that many people are framing this argument the wrong way… The Democrats are not, and have never been, the anti-war party – it’s been the opposite, in fact. U.S. Representative Tom Lantos (D-CA), the current Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, is a San Francisco liberal. He is also perhaps the most pro-war person in Congress, of any party.

    His Republican counterpart (before the Democrats took control of Congress), the highly-esteemed U.S. Representative Henry Hyde (R-IL), opposed the Iraq war, and opposed the neoliberal and neoconservative foreign policy vision, that got us into this mess.

    What is doing is disrespectful… and I definitely oppose that organization.

    However, I am skeptical about much of what is in the General’s report.

    As I have pointed out numerous times in the past… The top Democrats in America today are not truly anti-war… far from it, in fact.

    Prior to the 2004 U.S. Presidential election, I asserted that, if John Kerry were elected, we could actually have more warfare and military interventionism than if Bush were to be re-elected. Several others [including both supporters and opponents of the Iraq war, and of President Bush], agreed with this.

    And before the 2006 Congressional elections, I made the same type of argument, regarding the Democrats and the Republicans.

    And now, I just saw an article featured at The Hill, showing that several of the hawkish Democrats, who have gotten Chairmanships, due to their party’s takeover of Congress, and who I named there, were the same ones heaping lavish praise, earlier today, on General David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker.

    The pro-war, anti-war, and partisan reactionary segments of the American Left can attempt to pursue their destructive policies – many of which have been seized up, and even embraced, but today’s “conservatives,” along with the present White House, and much of the GOP leadership. Thankfully though, there are many on the Right, and in the Republican Party, who do not support these policies.

    Ultimately, it may be the battle on the Right, over these vital contemporary foreign and domestic policy issues, that determines what direction our nation will go.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    “I actually think this makes the left look bad in this situation.”

    Yes it does. However we must keep this in perspective. If the left looks bad when one group puts out an ad such as this, the right should also look bad for their more frequent attacks of this nature. Turn on talk radio any day of the week and you’ll hear far worse.

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    “Prior to the 2004 U.S. Presidential election, I asserted that, if John Kerry were elected, we could actually have more warfare and military interventionism than if Bush were to be re-elected.”

    If you asserted that, you were wrong. Kerry spoke frequently about using military force only as a last resort, and of course opposed Bush’s war in Iraq. Bush both got us into Iraq and is continuing the war.

    There are some pro-war Democrats but the votes this year to attempt to put an end to the war show quite clearly that for the most part the Democrats oppose the war and the Republicans support the war.

  6. 6
    Steve Johnson says:


    Thought this news might be of some interest to your readers:

    NEW moveon,org TV ad coming out on monday sept 17th…basically calling president bush a traitor.

    Catch it here: TV Ad

    For general david betray us fans or not:
    General David Betray Us

    Have a great weekend!

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    The ad does not call Bush a traitor but does offer legitimate criticism.

    Perhaps the conduct shown in the ad does make Bush a traitor, but that’s your spin on it, not what MoveOn says.

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