Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Move-On Advert

Given the unceasing attacks from the right-wing noise machine on the patriotism of anyone who might criticize the right in general or the George W. Bush administration in particular the move-on 'General Betray-Us' ad was hardly outside the boundaries set by the likes of Coulter and O'Riely.

The fiasco in Iraq is unremitting and I don't see anything particularly wrong in resorting to name calling if it has the intended political effect. The real question then is what Move-On's goal was and whether it was effective.

As Kevin Drum points out the Republicans in the Congressional hearing made the mistake of repeatedly referring to the move-on advert throughout the hearing, reminding viewers that Petraus had been called a liar and accused of peddling fudged statistics. There is an old rule in politics that you never repeat the accusation, even if you are denying it you are still repeating it.

The effect of the advertisement was to frame the argument in terms of a partisan divide. This is exactly what Move-On were seeking to do. Their objective being to stop the war, the interests of the Democratic party being secondary to that goal.

The real test is not what the immediate reaction to the advert is but how it is regarded in six months time. As Atrios notes, the war party has no real strategy except to keep kicking the can down the road six months at a time. By that time the only thing that is likely to be remembered of this round of hearings is the phrase 'General Betray-Us'. The Presidential election will be in full swing and the GOP nominee is going to have to either come out against the war or work hard to shift public opinion in its favor.

There is however another possibe motive here. Over the past few weeks there have been reports of a 'Patraeus 2012' campaign being floated. This would certainly make a lot of sense given the poor quality of their 2008 field. Of the 2008 GOP primary candidates only Romney is a likely 2012 contender and then only if he does not win the 2008 nomination and lose the general. McCain is already too old and this is Giuliani's only shot.

A draft Patraeus movement would make sense. But only if Patraeus is seen as an Eisenhower type figure standing above the partisan fray. He ceases to be electable if he becomes seen as a Colin Powell figure, a once honourable soldier who compromised his integrity by acting as a mouthpiece for a laundry list of fibs from the Bush Administration. If blocking this option was the goal of the Move-On ad they were successful.

Update: Should have thought of it earlier. The Republicans were not making a mistake, they were giving themselves an alibi. MoveOn have given them the perfect framing for their excuse if they decide to take it later on.

Update2: Yes, of course the talk of Patraeus 2012 would have been mooted as a way to raise his stature ahead of the hearings. But that does not mean it could not happen.

1 comment:

bronson said...

So, because the conservatives act like buttheads, that gives liberals the right to act like buttheads too?

The ad has convinced me that it's worth ignoring pretty much anything Move On has to say in the future, just like I currently ignore OReilly and Coulter. I have no desire to watch any 5th grade playground slap-fights.