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Thursday, September 20, 2007

The real masters of political theater

You want political theater? They'll give you political theater:'s "General Betray Us" advertisement was condemned today by the U.S. Senate.

Voting 72-25, senators passed a resolution sponsored by conservative Republican John Cornyn of Texas.

The anti-war group's full-page ad appeared in The New York Times last week as Gen. David Petraeus testified on Capitol Hill. It carried the headline "General Petraeus or General Betray Us? Cooking the books for the White House."

Presidential candidates Sens. Hillary Clinton and Christopher Dodd voted against the resolution. Sen. Barrack Obama did not vote.
Republicans love to complain about spending time discussing the disastrous consequences of the Iraq occupation, but when a group of Americans places an ad in a newspaper, watch out! The Republican Noise Machine is on full-blown howl mode, while prominent Republicans such as John McCain have declared that MoveOn should be "thrown out of the country" - proving once again that the right wing secretly despises freedom of speech.

Think about the significance of that remark. You say something "disgraceful" (as Republican Gordon Smith of Oregon characterized the MoveOn ad) and the consequence of that is that you get thrown out of the country? That's not free speech, nor is it the American way.

MoveOn has ridiculed the amendment, noting:
The U.S. Senate just told you to sit down and be quiet when they passed a Republican amendment condemning MoveOn.

Every day, our brave men and women are dying in a bloody civil war this Senate has done nothing to stop. Yesterday, they couldn't even pass a bill to give soldiers adequate leave with their families before redeploying. But they're spending time cracking down on a newspaper ad?

So, we're making clear where America stands. We're releasing a statement from MoveOn members — and anyone else who feels the same way — saying, "We will not be quiet, we will fight back. We will keep speaking out until Congress forces an exit plan for this awful war."

Maybe you liked our General Petraeus ad. Maybe you thought the language went too far. But make no mistake: this is much bigger than one ad.

It's part of a larger campaign by Fox, the right-wing echo chamber, and Republicans like John McCain (who said we should be "thrown out of the country").

They're doing it because they're hurting: Polls show last week's Bush Administration PR blitz increased the number of Americans favoring withdrawal5 and vulnerable Republicans are sinking lower and lower in the polls (or announcing their retirement).

And it has one purpose: to intimidate all of us. To send a message that anyone who speaks unpleasant truths about this war will pay. To make everyone — especially politicians — think twice before they accuse the administration of lying.

If it looks like we're on the run, people will think twice before they speak out. Will you send a message today to Dick Cheney, Fox, Bill O'Reilly, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Karl Rove — and the Democrats without the guts to vote against this — that it's not working?

We've changed our home page to just run the names of people who sign on. We'll report the totals to the media all day. And if we can find an electronic billboard in Washington, D.C., we'll run the names there, too.

And after you add your name, you can go one step further. We've put together a fair but hard-hitting ad that highlights how, yesterday, Republicans blocked a bill to give our troops adequate family leave before going back to Iraq. If we can raise enough money, we'll air this ad across the country and take the fight back to the real issues — this terrible war and its impact on our troops and the Iraqi people.

This morning, the Senate didn't pass an exit strategy for Iraq. They didn't pass a bill to cover millions of uninsured Americans or combat the climate crisis. Nope — they condemned 3.4 million Americans for speaking out against the war.

Let them know them it's not going to work.
If voting to condemn a newspaper ad is not "political theater", then somebody tell me what is.

Republicans complain about "political theater" one week, then turn around and insist on meaningless votes that waste the Senate's time. All they've proved today is that they are the real masters of the art they profess to despise.

UPDATE: ThinkProgress has more.

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