Petraeus or Betray Us? It’s all in the Question Mark

Earlier this week, MoveOn.org ran a full page ad in the New York Times under the headline “General Petraeous or General Betray Us?”

It sent conservatives into mouth-frothing, unmitigating anger.  We had postings here saying MoveOn had accused the general of treason.  OC Blog’s Matt Cunningham, in a post on his site, called Rep. Loretta Sanchez’s press secretary demanding that Rep. Sanchez denounce the ad. 

The fight moved from the ad itself to Move On’s web site which provided a link to documentation for the content in the ad.  Its hard to argue with the accuracy of the ad.  The General has a history of multiple press interviews over the past four years all depicting the rosiest of outlooks on the situation in Iraq.

But those on the right chest-beating the most over the ad failed to notice an important detail in the headline.  A small piece of punctuation.  The plainly revealed question mark.  See the ad here.

Why does this matter?

Because the headline suggests to the reader, will the General tell the truth or will he use smoke and mirrors to present an Iraq situation that President Bush wants the voting public and Congress to see unchallenged.  No accusations of treason.  But a question of truthfulness.

Fox News does this all the time.  Read the scroll below the Neil Cavuto show or the O’Reilly Factor on a regular basis.  It’s Fox News’ way of saying “The Democrats are Responsible for the Situation in Iraq” when they write: “Are the Democrats Responsible for the Situation in Iraq?”

This question mark, my friends on the left, is simply MoveOn.org’s attempt to play the information game by the same rules so firmly established by media influencers on the right.  Jon Stewart parodied the Cavuto Show using an example not appropriate for a web site read by young people.  Rather than say, “Your Mother wears combat boots,” they said “Does your mother wear combat boots?”  See how the question mark almost completely changes its meaning?

The ad, for as much as the right doesn’t like it, is accurate, its backup solid, and since everything is talking about it, it’s a damn effective ad as well.

PS — Fox News was the only network not to broadcast the Democratic response to the President’s speech last night.  Fair and balanced…sure they are.  Another glass of Kool-Aid?

  8 comments for “Petraeus or Betray Us? It’s all in the Question Mark

  1. Aunt Millie
    September 14, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    The radical neocons supporting Bush had already telegraphed their Orwellian message. Bush was going to hide behind Petraeus’ uniform, and Petraeus was going to kick the can down the road.

    This war was lost before it began, when Bush refused to listen to the generals, and sent inept, inexperienced political apparatchiks to Iraq. We are in the fifth year of this catastrophe, which Republicans are paying for with massive taxes on future generations, while they project another ten years of Bush’s War in Error.

    If they can get to 2009, they can blame Democrats for losing Iraq, and for trying to balance the budget.

    Bush and his cronies have betrayed the Constitution time and again, with a radical contempt for every principle that Republicans ever espoused.

    It’s pathetic to see dead-enders defending this.

    Of course they have to lash out against Move-On’s ad, because Move-On is pointing out the obvious fact – the Emperor has no clothes, and he’s cowering behind Petraeus and hisuniform.

  2. d'Anconia
    September 14, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    Dan-

    You sure about Fox News not running the Democratic response? I’m 99.9% sure they ran it…

  3. Dan Chmielewski
    September 14, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    d’Ac —
    From MediaMatters.org:

    Fox only broadcast network that did not air Democratic response to Bush speech

    Summary: Following President Bush’s address to the nation on Iraq, Fox was the only broadcast network not to air the Democratic response. Instead, Shepard Smith gave a short description of the response and stated: “Our coverage continues on the Fox News Channel on cable and satellite with the Democratic response and more. Right now, back to your local Fox programming.” ABC, NBC, and CBS all aired the Democratic response.

    Following President Bush’s September 13 prime-time address to the nation on Iraq, Fox was the only broadcast network not to air the Democratic response, which was delivered by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI). Instead, Fox News anchor Shepard Smith, who was hosting Fox’s post-speech coverage, stated: “The Democrats will say in the Democratic response later that the larger problems, as General [David] Petraeus put it, are not military but political. The surge, when announced by the president, was designed to give the political leaders in Iraq the time to bring together their strategies to secure the nation and solve their political problems.” At the conclusion of Fox’s coverage, Smith stated: “Our coverage continues on the Fox News Channel on cable and satellite with the Democratic response and more. Right now, back to your local Fox programming.” ABC, NBC, and CBS all aired the Democratic response.

  4. Northcountystorm
    September 15, 2007 at 12:23 am

    Dan—I’m not of the right and I didn’t like the ad. Or I should say i did not like the cutsie play on his name. Which, by the way, carries no question mark in the body of the ad. Much of the substance, as you point out, was correct. But that gets lost in the stupidrefernece to betrayal.

    Whatever you think of his testimony—and I thought it was disapointing, way too optomistic and directing us down a path towards a permanent American protectorate–General Petraeus has served his country honorably and to suggest he would betray it is shameful IMHO. Be critical of the testimony by all means but saying he betrayed us is just plain wrong.

    The right is always saying that the left is anti-military. The way Move On.org did this ad just gives the right more grist for the mill and obscures the important issues the ad was supposed to discuss.

  5. Dan Chmielewski
    September 15, 2007 at 9:45 am

    I don’t share your view. The overly optimitic testimony is not helpful to anyone but those on the right.

  6. calitarian
    September 16, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    Moveon is the biggest contributor to the Democratic party. It has taken the party from that of the working class, to the very wealthy segment of San Fransisco Bay Area Liberals who have been all to happy to join in the band wagon and outsource jobs. That no Dem has come out against the ad, shows a permanent disconnect with our troops, and in fact with many moderate Dems . And I have to ask you: Do Democrats hate the military? Do they hate the very essence of what they are? Do they mistrust them? Do they secretly really not support the troops? Do they adhere to the stereotype that it is an option for those with no other avenues of education or employment?

    Because I think by our actions, that most Democrats do. And it’s clear to me that this is what the leadership of moveon.org believes. And given the slanderous ads, I have to wonder with a friend like moveon, perhaps the Democrats are simply adding to their own lack of cohesive identity.

    But you should be as annoyed with the Dems who went along with the war, voted for it, and voted to continue it. If you’ll remember way back to when this fracas all started, only one Dem had the courage to question it, and she was roundly criticized by her peers for doing so. Blame them as much as the Republicans. All of the politicians are playing flavor of the month politics.

    The ad was wrong. It was a cheap shot. And just because the far right does it, doesn’t mean the mainstream Dems have to support Moveon’s far left. In fact, with this ad, I’d have to say that Moveon has put itself very close to the far right in tactics.

    And one more thing. Though we can all say “bring the troops home now,” you have to distinguish practicality with sentimentality. Once you have brigades over there it’s very difficult to break it apart without affecting another brigade. In other words… it has to be done systematically. It’s going to take time. To imagine tossing everyone onto military transports and bringing them home right now, is far more dangerous than doing it gradually.

  7. Dan Chmielewski
    September 17, 2007 at 10:18 am

    “The ad was wrong. It was a cheap shot. And just because the far right does it, doesn’t mean the mainstream Dems have to support Moveon’s far left. In fact, with this ad, I’d have to say that Moveon has put itself very close to the far right in tactics.”

    Actually, mainstream Dems haven’t come out in support of or in condemnation of the ad. They are not saying anything about it. Silence does not equate with support. And as far as the ad goes, the vast majortiy of Americans are not buying Petraeous’s testimony. I personally love those on the right who have been slinging mud of the dirtiest variety for years crying he loudest when a leftie hits them in the eye with the same mud; its called playing the game by the rules you guys set up.

    What abou the ads from Ari Fleischer Group that seeks to tie 9/11 to Iraq; are those ads OK?

  8. GiGi
    September 21, 2007 at 7:55 am

    The ad was correct! Petraeous said what he thought the president wanted him to say. He was FOR the pres., not for telling the truth to the people. He betrayed the people of the U.S.

Comments are closed.