So, let's see - the United States Senate votes to continue suspending habeas corpus, one of the foundations of law since the Magna Carta 1,000 years ago. And the United States Senate votes to deny giving over-extended soldiers a critically-needed rest. But -
- the United States Senate, by a massive total of 72-25, votes to condemn an ad taken out to express an opinion.
Cool. The dictionary gets a new definition of craven.
(For those without a dictionary handy, craven was previously defined as, "Lacking even the rudiments of courage; abjectly fearful." Side note: abject means "Of the most contemptible kind.")
Among other votes the United States Senate is now considering are -
Does "Gossip Girl" portray prep schools fairly?
Is the third paragraph of Frank Rich's Sunday column too mean?
May athletic shoes may be worn at a black-tie affair?
Should Fantasia ever have been voted off "American Idol"?
Can we get one more opinion on Terri Schiavo?
How much funds should be appropriated for re-building New Orleans?
(Ha! Just kidding about that last question!)
Was the MoveOn.org ad inappropriate? The pun was clever, the ad over-the-top, like most ads. Given that administration officials had acknowledged General Petraeus's report would be written by the White House, it also expressed a viewpoint that people understood, even those who hated it.
It's one thing, however, for anyone including United States senators to express disagreement on how an ad of opinion is phrased. But to cast a vote on the floor of the United States Senate - binding or not - places the imprint of official government policy.
For anyone who applauds the Senate condemnation, no doubt you'll be as joyful should the next government condemnation come over a political opinion you agree with.
Still, fair is fair. After all, the Senate equally condemned the Swift Boats ads against John Kerry, and he was only running for President of the Uni... Oh, wait, sorry, they didn't touch that one, did they? But George Bush at least has an excuse for not being put-out about the ad. His political advisor, Karl Rove, organized it.
Well, happily they all banded together and defended one of their own by voting to condemn the despicable ads equating Viet Nam hero Max Cleland with Osama bin Laden. Wait, they didn't?? Oops, my mistake.
Of course, the problem with those two ads is that they were both demonstrable lies. This from MoveOn.org was just an opinion. In technical terms that's known as "A Big Difference."
The vote to condemn MoveOn.org was offered by Republican John Cornyn (R-TX) and supported by every Republican in the Senate. In addition, 22 Democrats thought that condemning an organization from the United States Senate floor for the way its opinion was expressed in one word of an ad was a really nifty idea.
Among these Democratic senators was Dianne Feinstein of California. You know, California, home of the world's media industry. Apparently, this was a vote she thought was a swell way to represent her state. (Yes, I know that all politicians should be able to vote their conscience, but that requires having one. Okay, cheap shot; though not as cheap as the vote.)
The 22 Democrats who voted, "yes," at least seemed to know they'd done wrong and were craven, because they were flying to microphones explaining their votes. It didn't work. But the Republicans didn't even try.
They voted to condemn an ad. Correction, make that "strongly condemn." Strongly condemn! Boy, howdy, considering that all 49 Republicans voted for it - every single last one of them, the entire Republican Party in the United States Senate - they must really have been pissed off. These Republicans weren't even upset enough to return habeas corpus to the rule of law, or give soldiers at war a rest. That is one annoying sucker of an advertisement.
(To be honest, I know how they feel. I want to yell at the TV screen every time one of those wimpy ads come on for Match.com.)
By the way, here's the head-banging irony of this obscene Republican proposal: the Senate's official governmental condemnation of MoveOn.org's ad about General Petraeus contradicts the very thing Republicans insist the General (and this nation) is supposedly fighting for - freedom, freedom of speech. The right to say anything without the government imposing itself.
All 72 members who voted on the United States Senate floor to strongly condemn an opinion dishonored themselves. While they might think they did good by supporting David Petraeus for being called a harsh word, what sort of lunacy overlooks that he was there reporting on his experiences in the middle of war in Iraq? If the 72 Senators want to strongly condemn something that actually hurts the General, that might be a far better place to start.