The word ‘betray’ used by MoveOn in the ad implies many meanings, but does not directly imply ‘traitor’–unless that definition is introduced.
Voil! Another effort by U.S. citizens to question Bush’s policy in Iraq has been silenced by right-wing, coordinated accusations that critics of the war seek to harm the country, this time by slandering the U.S. military.
You can’t make this stuff up.
The ad defined MoveOn.org, and MoveOn.org defines the Democratic Party, especially its leading lights –Senators Clinton and Obama, neither of whom has denounced the assault on General Petraeus’ loyalty and integrity, and thus abet it for a second day. The general silence from Democrats tells you that their fear of MoveOn.org trumps their respect for the general and the troops he leads. From the Boston Globe:
But the Democratic candidates stopped short of [denouncing the ad].
“Senator Obama’s question is not about General Petraeus’s patriotism. It’s about his logic,” said Bill Burton, a spokesman for Senator Barack Obama of Illinois. “There’s no evidence that this surge is producing the political progress needed to resolve the civil war in Iraq, or that it will be accomplished through more of the same.”
Phil Singer, a spokesman for Senator Hillary Clinton of New York, said, “It is unfortunate that Republican presidential candidates are focused on generating a political sideshow instead of discussing the president’s failed war policy.”
“Members of the Democratic leadership and their supporters have now normalized the practice of accusing their opponents of lying,” the Wall Street Journal editorializes this morning. The editors there know what MoveOn.org’s clear meaning was:
“Betrayal,” as every military officer knows, is a word that through the history of their profession bears the stain of acts that are both dishonorable and unforgivable. That is to say, MoveOn.org didn’t stumble upon this word; it was chosen with specific intent, to convey the most serious accusation possible against General Petraeus, that his word is false, that he is a liar and that he is willing to betray his country. The next and obvious word to which this equation with betrayal leads is treason. That it is merely insinuated makes it worse.
The Journal notes that today General Petraeus will be testifying before Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Barack Obama, John Kerry, Barbara Boxer and Jim Webb among others, and hopes that one or more will take their high-profile moment to condemn MoveOn.org.
Don’t hold your breath, though perhaps Senator Webb as a highly decorated Marine and former Secretary of the Navy will seize the opportunity to draw the necessary and sharp line between blasting political opponents and smearing the military.
Update: If you think Petraeus deserves support, not smears, go to Victory Caucus and sign the petition to Stand By the Mission: