Someone from the McCain campaign seems to take it for granted that all Americans are appalled by the Move On ad. I don't believe that's true. I wasn't appalled by the ad. I haven't spoken to anyone who was. Petraeus personally pitched the Bush policy on the Hill before the surge officially began and he was back on the Hill and in front of every microphone he could find the day before Bush's speech, hawking the plan to stay the course.
Once a soldier does that he becomes a political figure, attached to the administration; and it's policies for better or worse. Unfortunately for the general, in this case, an administration known for deception and betrayal.
Besides, after the swiftboating of John Kerry, nothing is all that shocking to me.
At a crowded rally at a VFW hall in Hudson, NH last night, McCain -- again -- used the MoveOn "Betray Us" ad as a emotional crowd-pleaser. It was a boisterous event, so when I thought I heard McCain call for MoveOn to be "thrown out" -- and then be drowned out by applause, I first went to the campaign and asked what the candidate said. They were at a loss as well, but said it seemed highly unlikely that he'd call for something so harsh. ("It goes against everything he believes in.") Today, a colleague from CBS News with better equipment played a tape from the rally. McCain did, indeed, let his passions run ahead of the First Amendment. The tape is clear. He said:
"It's disgraceful, it's got to be retracted and condemned by the Democrats and MoveOn.org ought to be thrown out of this country, my friends."
The campaign has its own take on the quote:
Senator McCain, like most Americans, is appalled by the MoveOn.org ad. Last night he expressed his outrage in words that did not convey his intended meaning. What he meant to say was that MoveOn's smear of General Petraeus' character should have no place in the American political debate.
There is, of course, a significant difference between exile and criticism.
UPDATE: CBS has the video.
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The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.