Just back from today’s hearings and just about Every Last Republican mentioned the idiotic MoveOn ad…also caught the beginning of Fox News, where–surprise, surprise–it played big. Couple of points:
1. This is a distraction from the main event. Usually the Republicans are the ones who’ve tried to change topics at a crucial Iraq moment…but MoveOn usurped that gambit this time. This is going to put the Democrats on the defensive. They’re going to have to answer questions like the one posed by the odious Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida: Will you disassociate yourselves from this? The Presidential candidates will be asked…and they will have to either disassociate themselves from MoveOn (which the party’s base won’t like) or associate themselves with calling General Petraeus a traitor. And make no mistake: One who betrays us is a traitor.
2. The ad was, on its face, morally and politically outrageous. Jay is right that there were substantive points to be made about Petraeus’ strategy and testimony (which gilded more than a few lilies)–as well as Ryan Crocker’s disappointing testimony, in which the glass was 87% full and Crocker didn’t want to talk about the other 13%. But the substance (or lack of it) will be subsumed by the slander: It is no small thing to accuse a military man of betraying his country. It is also palpably untrue in this case. Whoever cooked up this ad is guilty of a disgraceful act of malicious puerility.
I’ll have plenty to say about the testimony (misleading) and the questioning (atrocious) in my print column this week. Perhaps the Senators will stow their egos and actually try to ask some relevant questions tomorrow.
But for now, MoveOn has handed the Bush Administration a major victory–at a moment when all attention should be focused on whether we should continue to commit U.S. troops to this disaster. Just nauseating.