Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Republican Playbook: Fake Outrage

The Republicans are outraged, outraged that Move-On put out an ad yesterday saying that General Petraeus might be betraying us and is fudging the data on violence in Iraq. They have already got milquetoast members of the chattering class such as Joe Klein on their side condemming the evil hippies for besmirching the record of General Petraeus. Sure, he was in charge of weapon dispersal when we lost 190,000 in Iraq, sure he cherry picked the data, but he is General Petraeus. He must not be questioned.

House Republicans are introducing a resolution to condemn an ad that MoveOn.org ran in The New York Times, referring to General David Petraeus as "General Betray Us" and accusing him of playing politics with his statistics regarding the surge. The ad was frequently referred to by Republican members at yesterday's committee hearing with the general.

"The despicable attack MoveOn.org launched against General Petraeus today should be condemned by all Members of Congress, including the Democratic leadership," said House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH). "I urge Members on both sides of the aisle to join in support of this resolution so the House speaks with one voice rejecting the character assassination tactics employed by this extremist group."

This is such a brilliant opportunity for the democrats to do some political judo that it doesn't take rocket science to know how to respond. Sadly, they will probably pass this bill with blue dog support due to political tin ears.

Here is how they should react to this move; add amendments to the bill. Let's add in a bit about how terrible the Swift Boaters were. Let's also criticize Willie Horton, denounce presumtive Attorney General nominee Ted Olsen for his part in the Arkansas project. Be creative. All the dirty tricks Republican operatives have done in the past several years can be tied into this "outrage" over Move-on's tactics.

It's all a distraction. So, let's distract. If the Republicans want to move off of the topic about how disasterous their war has become into a debate over which side has the sleaziest attacks let them. We will win that debate too.