It used to be that politics stopped at the water’s edge. Today it stops when your opponent lies battered in the alley, his reputation savaged.
Case in point: The MoveOn.org ad trashing Gen. Petraeus’ character and honesty. No major Democratic presidential candidate had the guts to stand up for the man–even after his tepidly “optimistic” defense of the surge.
So now the Dems are having it both ways, enjoying the money and support of MoveOn while larding their speeches with lines like, “Even Gen. Petraeus has admitted . . ” and “By Gen. Petraeus’ own testimony, there has been little or no progress. . . ”
Somehow, the General is a dishonest “betrayer” when he aligns with the Administration, but a tribune of truth when his statements seem to support anti-war goals. It reminds me of the Clinton years, when Rush Limbaugh would denounce President Clinton as a wily, Ivy League Machiavelli one day, then slam him as an ignorant Arkansas horndog the next.
The rule: say whatever inflicts maximum damage, truth be damned. Sort out the contradictions later.
Standing up for a less divisive, less corrosive style of politics wouldn’t be that hard. A Democratic candidate would only have to say something like this:
“I believe that MoveOn has been an important force for change in this country. I support many of their goals for our society, especially their desire to end the war as quickly as possible. But there is no reason to demean a patriotic American’s character as we pursue these goals.”
That’s all it would take. But Clinton, Obama, and the rest won’t risk even that cautious departure from the party line. What a profile in courage.
Thankfully, some staunch Democrats realize that accomplishing their goals doesn’t require destroying a man’s character. Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton, shows how it’s done here .