In his press conference this morning, President Bush was asked about the MoveOn ad in the New York Times that accused General Petraeus of being a traitor. Here is the exchange:
Question: What’s your reaction to the MoveOn.Org ad that mocked General Petraeus saying he cooked the book on Iraq. Would you like to see Democrats including presidential candidates repudiate the ad?
President Bush: I thought the ad was disgusting. And I felt like the ad was an attack not only on General 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. That leads me to come to this conclusion — that most Democrats are [more] afraid of irritating a left-wing group like MoveOn.Org, than they are of irritating the United States military. That was a sorry deal. And one thing to attack me — another thing to attack somebody like General Petraeus.
In Congress, meanwhile, the Democrats are maneuvering to protect MoveOn. Senator Cornyn has offered an amendment supporting Gen. Petraeus and condemning MoveOn’s scurrilous attack. The Democrats don’t want to go on record supporting MoveOn, so they are trying to add an amendment that would link condemnation of the MoveOn ad to condemnation of political ads in Max Cleland’s 2002 Senate campaign and John Kerry’s 2004 Presidential campaign (i.e., the Swift Boat Vets).
So, in the Democrats’ view, General Petraeus is just another politician and MoveOn’s slander is just another campaign ad.
There is, though, a certain perverse consistency to the Democrats’ thinking. MoveOn is a group that consists of people who can’t move on, and the Democrats collectively can’t get over the mythology that they themselves have created around the Cleland and Kerry campaigns. They lost, Dems–get over it. Or, in other words: move on.
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