It is beyond troubling that a well-paid body of representatives tasked with doing the essential business of the American people would instead waste taxpayer time and money on such a childish, inappropriate act as publicly denouncing a citizen advocacy group for exercising its right to free speech.
The group, MoveOn.org, took out a paid advertisement (albeit underpaid, though it has since paid full price) in The New York Times. We will reserve judgment as to how appropriate it is to call Gen. David Petraeus a name — Betray Us — at a time when a serious discourse on Iraq and the efficacy of the Bush/Petraeus “plan” to keep our soldiers mired in a civil war is necessary. It goes without saying that the MoveOn ad, though it attempted to stoke serious questions about what the general was expected to tell Congress, has instead served Republicans well, drawing attention away from the actual debate and allowing quislings like Kentucky Sens. Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning to hide behind some emotional, nostalgic defense of Petraeus as the ultimate American solider when, in fact, he has appeared to be something of a White House lackey.
This episode shows nothing if not that our representatives, who have failed us so profoundly on the Iraq war, operate in a world of denial and fear of the majority of Americans, who are moving ever closer to throwing the switch on these swine. A recent Lexington Herald-Leader/Action News 36 poll found that 55 percent of Kentuckians disapprove of McConnell’s position on the war, which has been to support President Bush’s policies. Two weeks ago, a New York Times/CBS News poll revealed that 71 percent of Americans disapprove of those policies. And just before he testified to Congress that the “surge” is working in Iraq, 53 percent of Americans believed Petraeus would sugarcoat the situation there, according to an ABC News poll.
It is not intellectually honest to lay full blame on the Democrats for failing to act on the mandate voters provided last November — McConnell and the Republicans have maintained a highly successful strategy of blocking every vote to withdraw, redeploy or otherwise assist American troops in Iraq, including the recent blockage of the Webb amendment, which would have guaranteed troops as much time at home as they spend deployed. However, it is perfectly appropriate to castigate all 25 Democrats who, by voting for the resolution condemning MoveOn.org, have now allowed the Republican spin machine to group both parties together in some feigned stand against an advocacy group with 3.3 million members.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Ca., attached an amendment condemning the 2004 attack ads against John Kerry by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which were quickly unmasked as egregious lies. The swift-boating, now a verb, was a savage attack on a decorated veteran. But the Republican shitbags running the show then could happily swallow that business because it won them a presidential campaign.
Naturally, Boxer’s amendment was defeated, but it missed the point anyway: If members of the Senate are serious about cracking down on bad campaign rhetoric, why not initiate some meaningful campaign finance reform laws? Why not, Sen. McConnell? MoveOn is, quite simply, but one beneficiary of the McConnell system of campaigning, which is, famously, that money equals free speech. Unless you’re prepared to pull your head out of the behind of Kindred Healthcare ($63,700 to Mitch for his 2006 race), or Peabody Energy ($40,500 over the same cycle), or Humana ($43,877), don’t complain that MoveOn has anything like equal access to the process. When it comes to whining about “liberals” like MoveOn, there is a place for it: Fox News, not the Senate floor.
If the Senate insists on passing self-serving proclamations, how about hanging them on the real appalling issues:
• Running a war on the backs of the National Guard and the families of thousands of Americans who have to grapple with the weight of a family member’s extended deployment;
• Treating our veterans properly and adequately for post-traumatic stress disorder and other battle wounds less obvious than missing limbs;
• The heinous lies coming from military recruiters — detailed in the new book “Army of None” — that range from promising new recruits they won’t go to Iraq to contracts that change without notice. According to The New York Times, in 2004 almost one in five Army recruiters were under investigation for lying to recruits.
Sens. McConnell and Bunning, please stop insulting your constituency and playing political games while actual issues lay dormant.