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.