A recent ad in The New York Times, taken out by the activist organization MoveOn.org, was harshly critical of the recently delivered Petraeus Report on the Iraq war -- and, indeed, of Petraeus himself.
"General Petraeus or General Betray-Us?" blared the headline. The article itself accused the general of "cooking the books" when it came to the statistics he cited that said the so-called "surge" was working.
Now, I'll be the first to admit that that headline was a cheap shot. After all, as I've pointed out before, when you grow up with a name like Dusty Rhoades, you get to be something of a connoisseur of bad name jokes.
Enter Rudy "Mr. 9/11" Giuliani, staunch defender of Republican values! By golly, he wasn't going to let anyone impugn the integrity of a general who, if Rudy's to be believed, is so above criticism that he really ought to be nominated for sainthood now while he's still alive to enjoy it. So, in his battle with the evil forces of MoveOn.org, who did Mr. 9/11 choose to go after?
Hillary Clinton.This may seem curious, because Hillary Clinton isn't a MoveOn member, isn't on their board, and in fact has about as much power over what MoveOn does as I had in picking Pope Benedict.
In fact, Hillary doesn't even enjoy much support from MoveOn's membership. In a recent straw poll, the Democratic frontrunner came in a distant fifth. If, as some Republicans claim, "MoveOn has bought the Democratic Party," they may want to look at who's leading the Democratic pack and ask for a refund.
But never letting pesky facts stand in your way is, after all, one of those core Republican values that Giuliani has sworn to defend. In his own full-page ad taken out in The Times, he huffed that "these times call for statesmanship, not politicians spewing political venom," before proceeding to spew a little venom of his own.
"Just when our troops need all our support to finish the job, Hillary Clinton is turning her back on them," sputtered a Giuliani online ad that follows up The Times full-pager. "General Petraeus and the brave men and women now serving under him deserve an apology. And our nation deserves better."
It wasn't enough that Clinton pointed out that she wasn't behind the ad; Giuliani demanded that she distance herself further from an organization she's not even part of. But, again, responding to an attack by spending a ton of dough to declare war on someone who had nothing to do with it is apparently another core Republican value. I guess Giuliani really DOES want to follow in the footsteps of George W. Bush.
Funny, though, Giuliani didn't seem to have many harsh words for the Republicans who expressed skepticism of the testimony of St. David of Petraeus. Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel told talk show host Bill Maher that the whole thing, including Bush's hiding behind Petraeus, was "not only a dirty trick, but it's dishonest, it's hypocritical, it's dangerous and irresponsible. The fact is, this is not Petraeus' policy, it's Bush's policy."
And he said this, I might add, in a much harsher tone than Hillary Clinton could muster if she had a briar in her foot.
The venerable John Warner was also deeply skeptical of Petraeus' "keep on keepin' on" strategy. "I hope in the recesses of your heart that you know that strategy will continue the casualties, the stress on our forces, the stress on military families, the stress on all Americans," Warner said.
If indeed, skepticism of St. David's assertions constitutes a form of heresy, then perhaps the most egregious heretics are within the Army itself. "Ten days ago," reports The Washington Post's Walter Pincus, "commanders in Baghdad began advertising for private contractors to work in combat-supply warehouses on U.S. bases throughout Iraq because half the soldiers who had been working in the warehouses were needed for patrols, combat and protection of U.S. forces.' The story goes on to quote the want ad: "With the increased insurgent activity, unit supply personnel must continue to pull force protection along with convoy escort and patrol duties."
What! Increased insurgent activity? That's not what Gen. Petraeus said! Call for Rudy Giuliani! Get some wood and some stakes! Roll out the full-page ads! And pay no attention to the body bags and maimed soldiers coming back from Iraq.
Because it seems the main Republican value is this: It doesn't really matter what you do -- cherry-pick your intelligence, fail to properly equip your troops, fail to plan for the aftermath of the war, and kill thousands of Americans, to say nothing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis -- the only thing really worth getting outraged over when it comes to this war is what someone said in the newspaper.