Thursday, September 13, 2007


Updated On Tuesday, the Boston Globe published an op-ed by one Peter Feaver, a polisci prof at Duke University, in which the former NSC staffer vociferously attacked MoveOn over its "General Patraeus/Betray Us" ad. MoveOn was accused of McCarthyism and of being "part of an elaborate effort to undermine" support for the Iraq War, apparently in cahoots with Congressional Dems.

Precisely because [the ad] is so vicious, so public, and so deliberate, the attack on Petraeus cannot be ignored by either side in the Iraq debate. Supporters of the war are duty-bound, like Joseph Welch, to rise and ask of war opponents, "Have you left no sense of decency?" Antiwar members of Congress, like Senator McCarthy's allies, are obliged to answer. ...

This is a defining moment for the antiwar faction. They can continue on the path on to which they have veered, repeating some of the worst mistakes in American history. Or they can make a clean break with the past, police their own ranks, and promote a healthy, critical, public debate about the best way forward in Iraq.
I have written to the Globe in response. This is the text of the letter I sent:

Peter Feaver's hyperventilating reaction to's ad about General David Patraeus (Globe, Sept. 11) would have carried some weight if it could have been laid on a less-tipped scale. As it is, the column reveals less about the verbal excesses of any part of the left than it does about the partisan amorality of war supporters.

Feaver doesn't contest a single factual assertion made in the ad; indeed, he doesn't even acknowledge such assertions are made. Instead, he wants to pluck one word out of the headline as a means not only to ignore what the ad actually argues but to aggressively distract attention from it, insisting that, it would appear, the entire left half of the American political spectrum must now devote its energy to "policing its ranks" and answering the plaintive cry, "have you no decency?" rather than talking about the war.

This is because, he declares grandly, it is "not legitimate" and "corrosive" to "question the general's patriotism when his views differ from yours."

Well golly gee whillikers. Where were Feaver and his ilk when right-winger Glenn Beck said on national television just recently that Democrats in Congress "have the blood of our soldiers on their hands?"

Where were they when Fred Thompson told Sean Hannity that Congressional Democrats are "dangerously close" to "rooting for our defeat" in Iraq?

Where were they when then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said that critics of Bush's Iraq policy are "encouraging terrorists?" When Tom DeLay recently accused Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi of "getting very, very close to treason?"

Where were the right-wingers, oh so interested in "a full and frank exchange of views," when Michelle Malkin was calling the New York Times "traitorous" and saying "al-Qaeda thanks you?" When David Horowitz proclaimed that the United States is at war and "the aggressors in this war are Democrats, liberals and leftists?" When top-ranked right-wing blogger Glenn Reynolds claimed that the American media is "empowering the terrorists?" When Michael Reagan said that Howard Dean "should be arrested and hung for treason?" When Ann Coulter accused Jimmy Carter of treason (along with every "liberal" in the nation)? When Oliver North said criticism of Bush's foreign policy is "nurturing America's enemies?" When cartoonist Michael Ramirez accuses Democrats of advocating "surrender" in Iraq on almost a daily basis, even doing one cartoon portarying a soldier with a knife labeled "Congress" buried in his back?

Accusations of treason and similar spoutings of verbal bilgewater laid against opponents of Bush's war are an everyday occurrence in the fetid hallways and conference rooms of the right. But let them get one-tenth, one-thousandth, of what they dish out aimed back at them, and suddenly they get the vapors, fanning themselves madly and going on at length about "decency."

Questions about "policing ranks" and "decency" are indeed relevant, Mr. Feaver. But it is the supporters of the war, not its opponents, who need to answer them.
Personally, I think the ad was foolish not for what it said but because it gave the wingnuts an opening to launch the kinds of bogus attacks they have, successfully diverting some on the left into wasting time and energy going "oh no no, I'm not with them" (which only legitimizes the original attack by treating it as something requiring response) instead of getting on with opposing the insanity that surrounds us - that being a tendency on the left about which I have griped for years. I don't know how others here feel, but I will not be apologizing for or answering for MoveOn or its ad and beyond the tactical criticism I just made I will not be criticizing it. I'm just going to keep saying what I think in my words and for those I take full responsibility.

I noticed that at the Betray-Us hearing one GOPper waved the ad around and said he was giving committee Democrats the "opportunity" to distance themselves from it. Someone on the other side, I don't know who, shot back "Point of order, Mr. Chairman: It's not necessary to disassociate yourself from something you were never associated with," to which the GOPper could only reply "okay, calm down." That Dem gets it: Don't get distracted.

I have said this so many times, but it bears repeating: Slicing away your friends and supporters will not help you! And spending time apologizing for things a)that you didn't do and b)in fact require no apology is self-defeating and politically foolish.

Updated because I forget to say: Cross-posted at Lotus and The Core 4.