Resident Bush and his Republican friends are disgusted with the advertisement that MoveOn.org placed in last week's New York Times that suggested General Petraeus might be better called General Betray Us. As Salon's Tim Grieve reports, a total of 72 Senators, which means more than a handful of Democrats, voted for a resolution condemning MoveOn.org for the advertisement.
Now, why would those scoundrels at MoveOn suggest that Petraeus might actually have betrayed us? Perhaps it has to do with the fact that, as Dan Froomkin noted in his Washington Post column, the Iraq progress report that Petraeus delivered to Congress the other day was actually written by the White House. Basically, Petraeus acted in a political capacity when he delivered a report to lawmakers that was drafted to put as much luster as possible on the Bush Administration's Iraq "war" policy, such as it is. If one believes that Bush's Iraq war policy is a betrayal of the American public's will, then it might be reasonable to accuse those who support that policy, by speaking on its behalf to members of Congress in an effort to sway future legislation toward continued support for said policy, of betraying the will of the American people. Hence, "Betray Us."
As CNN reported this week, Bush said, "I felt like the ad was an attack, not only on Gen. Petraeus, but on the U.S. military... And I was disappointed that not more leaders in the Democratic Party spoke out strongly against that kind of ad." Well, that's a nice patriotically correct sentiment. The funny thing is, though, the Republicans have regularly attacked a number of military veterans over recent years.
The Good Patriots at Free Republic accuse Democratic Representative John Murtha, a decorated U.S. Marine veteran, of being "100 percent" in agreement with Osama Bin Laden that the United States Marines should withdraw from Iraq. The folks at Flopping Aces declared that Murtha was a traitor for suggesting that the Army is, "broken and worn out."
The infamous Swift Boat Veterans for Truth may have been influential enough in 2004 to sway the presidential election into Bush's lap by portraying John Kerry as unfit to be President because they say he lied about circumstances that led to his being awarded a Purple Heart. While the Swift Boat Vets' accusations have never been proven, they had a loud enough voice to have had a substantial impact on the 2004 election. Never mind that while Kerry was "betraying" his country in Viet Nam, Bush somehow catapulted over some 500 other young men on a waiting list to join the Texas Air National Guard and then bravely defended the skies over Texas in a unit nicknamed the "Champagne Club" because it was a notorious playpen for fortunate sons who were scared shitless of doing any real fighting overseas according to an article in TIME.
Then there's my favorite conservative attack on a veteran in the public eye. Max Cleland, a Democratic Senator from Georgia was defeated in 2002 by Republican Challenger Saxby Chambliss. Chambliss had asserted that Cleland insufficiently supported homeland security efforts and ran anti-Cleland campaign advertisements showing Cleland's image along with those of Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden. Never mind that Cleland was one of the Democrats that voted to give Bush the green light to invade Iraq. Never mind that Cleland lost both legs and an arm serving in Viet Nam. No word on what the good Mr. Chambliss was up to during the Viet Nam conflict. I'm sure he fought and bled in spirit.
There has been no shortage of conservative and Republican attacks on people who have honorably served their country in uniform. So when a left-leaning group like MoveOn.org questions the legitimacy of a report written by the White House and, subsequently, the legitimacy of the general who presents that report virtually as his own, they are derided for attacking not only General Petraeus (I would bet that Petraeus is a big boy and knows how to handle political opposition to a war policy that isn't really his...), but are derided for attacking the whole of the U.S. Military. Okay, then where the hell were all of these concerned patriots when Mutha, Kerry, and Cleland were under assault? Why wasn't Bush disgusted by these attacks and why didn't he interpret them as attacks on the military as a whole? Does one's service not count if one is not a Republican?
MoveOn.org's ad might have been in poor taste and deliberately provocative, but, if nothing else, it has ignited a national discussion. Perhaps that is what it was designed to do.