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"Attack" Ad Controversy: Should Petraeus MoveOn?

September 21, 2007

On September 10, left-wing political group MoveOn ran a full-page ad in the New York Times criticizing General Petraeus’ handling of the war in Iraq. They accused him and the Bush administration of using only selective data to create the illusion of military success in Iraq.

President Bush and Congress were quick to respond with condemnation for MoveOn, painting the ad as an unpatriotic attack on the brave men and women fighting for democracy in the Middle East. The Senate even went so far as to pass an amendment 72-25 to repudiate MoveOn for the strike.

But does anyone remember the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth? In 2004, the group of veterans claiming to have served with John Kerry during the Vietnam War ran several hostile TV ads against him, portraying him as fraudulent and unfit to lead. In truth they distorted his military record and many individual members of SBVT had strong ties to the Republican Party and 2004 Bush campaign.

Many of the same Republicans that are now condemning MoveOn were content to stand by while a Democrat was attacked on an even greater scale. They need to make up their minds—are they against personal attacks or not? Or does it just depend on whether the injured party is their friend or enemy? It is pure political motivation that caused the Senate to formally scold a group for a newspaper ad. Surely they can find a more pressing and significant issue to focus on.

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