September 11, 2007


MoveOn's McCarthy moment (Peter D. Feaver, September 11, 2007, Boston Globe)

We may be about to witness a McCarthy-Army-Welch moment in the debate over Iraq. This time, the role of McCarthy is played by, a liberal political group that launched its own attack on a respected US Army figure. In yesterday's New York Times, the day that General David Petraeus would give his long-awaited, congressionally mandated report on his military activities in Iraq, ran a full-page advertisement that accused Petraeus of activities befitting a traitor. The advertisement alleges, without evidence, that Petraeus is not going to give his honest, professional assessment of the situation in Iraq but instead will be "cooking the books" to curry favor with the Bush White House. The heart of the advertisement is a juvenile pun on Petraeus's name: General Betray Us?

The ad is vicious, and would garner comment even if it were merely one more primal scream in the coarse blogosphere debate over Iraq. But it is not an angry e-mail or blog entry. It is a deliberate attack on the senior Army commander, in a major daily newspaper, with the intention of destroying as much of his credibility as possible so that his military advice could be more easily rejected by antiwar members of Congress.

The attack was part of an elaborate effort to undermine public support for the Iraq war, and was foreshadowed by an unnamed Democratic senator who told a reporter, "No one wants to call [Petraeus] a liar on national TV . . . The expectation is that the outside groups will do this for us." The effort is funded by powerful special interests, and has all the trappings of a major political campaign.

Petraeus Backs Initial Pullout (Peter Baker and Jonathan Weisman, 9/11/07, Washington Post)
Michael Lerner, an antiwar rabbi, posted on the Internet the transcript of an Aug. 29 conference call with Reps. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) and James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) in which Woolsey called on activists to target "the moderate Democrats who are holding up the whole thing," even endorsing primary challenges. "I'd hate to lose the majority, but I'm telling you," she said, "if we don't stand up to our responsibility, maybe that's the lesson to be learned."

Amid division, some Democratic leaders appeared glum. [...]

War opponents have assailed him as a shill for the White House, with the liberal group even taking out a full-page advertisement in the New York Times dubbing him "General Betray Us" and accusing him of "cooking the books." Some analysts have debated the methodology of statistics used to report decreasing violence in Iraq.

A succession of protesters likewise made their antipathy for the general known at various points during the six-hour hearing. "How can you thank him for his service when we're slaughtering Iraqi civilians?" one woman shouted. An irked Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), the Armed Services Committee chairman, who ran the hearing, had disrupters removed and arrested.

One after the other, Republicans leapt to Petraeus's defense and called on Democrats to renounce [...]

Democrats, appearing defensive because of the attack on Petraeus, treated him respectfully throughout the hearing.

Given the manner in which Moveon-types consistently do themselves such self-harm as to indicate they are Rovebots, what the Democrats could really use is a blade runner.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 11, 2007 2:57 PM

This ad will change nothing. In fact, its only long-term impact is almost certainly going to be to make moveon stronger by showing their members that they are willing to push the limits to tick off the Right. Go back and read the commentary from Nov. 4, 2004. There was pretty universal agreement that the Dems had to drop the Moveon/Soros craziness in order to ever win elections. Of course they couldn't because that's where 100% of their activists and cash are. Now you think they're going to do anything about one silly little ad? Laughable.

Posted by: b at September 11, 2007 5:02 PM

Which is why the lost. In '06 Rahm Emmanuel positioned the party to the Right of the GOP.

Posted by: oj at September 11, 2007 5:24 PM

Actually, the GOP leadership positiioned themselves to the left of the Dems when it came to sleaze and arrogance and general incompetence and people like Emmanuel were able to muzzle their kooks long enough to get out of the way.

But I gotta agree, the ad will change nothing. It'll be fogotten by most people before the month is over. Look at how already you've got Dems and the editors of the New York Times-Democrat defending it and the Code Pink gallery clowns in the name of "free speech" and how we need to "hear dissenting voices." But will Emmmanual be able to silent those voices again next year when it matters, when people start paying attention to the election? That's the question.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 11, 2007 6:51 PM

That Democratic senator. Has anyone taken up the challenge of getting on the record denials from all the Dem senators? This should have legs.

Posted by: RC at September 11, 2007 9:09 PM


The Reps in the Senate tried Tuesday, but the Dems used their gavel to block the vote. It'll still have legs. Graham's so whizzed, he swore on Hannity tonight.

Posted by: ghostcat at September 11, 2007 11:36 PM

Maybe the ad should have been run the day after the testimony. Could have looked more like a response and less like a preemptive attack.

Posted by: Dave at September 12, 2007 1:02 PM