Senate Condemns Free Speech

Friday, September 21, 2007

So, let me get this straight. A Senate which could not pass legislation to provide our troops with adequate rest between deployments or to restore habeas corpus can waste time and tax dollars censuring Is this what our Senate is good for now? Condemning free speech? Squelching dissent?

Republicans escalated a rhetorical war with Democrats over political advertising on Thursday, as the Senate voted 72 to 25 to condemn an attack on the U.S. commander in Iraq by the liberal activist group

President Bush entered the fray for the first time, describing a newspaper ad sponsored by -- which ridiculed Army Gen. David H. Petraeus as "General Betray Us" -- as "disgusting."

"I felt like the ad was an attack not only on Gen. Petraeus, but on the U.S. military," Bush said at a news conference. "Most Democrats are [more] afraid of irritating a left-wing group like . . . than they are of irritating the United States military. That was a sorry deal."

That Senate Republicans would pose such legislation with the backing of the President himself should come as no surprise. GOP blowhards have a documented history of exploiting members of the military as symbols and not giving a good goddamn about the actual, material needs of the men and women who serve. But this move is mind-numbingly hypocritical. Where was their outrage when John Kerry was Swift-Boated, when pasty-faced chicken-hawks sported purple heart band-aids, when Saxby Chamblis ridiculed the courage of Vietnam Veteran and triple amputee Max Cleland, or when GOP operatives impugned the service record of Congressman Murtha? But, no. When Barbara Boxer offered an amendment that would have condemned attacks on any service member, it failed. They are not interested in protecting the troops from criticism any more than they are in providing for their actual needs. They are only interested in protecting their political "tools," which is exactly what General Petraeus is.

Republicans will continue to aid and abet attacks on any service member, active duty or retired, who does not spout GOP talking points, or dares to criticize the neocon agenda. Yet, 22 Democrats have, with all the cravenness that defines that party, sided with Republicans on this idiotic bill. Read 'em and weep.

Jane Hamsher summed up this idiocy well the other day and it stuck with me.

It’s just such a basic, elemental principle at play here — you don’t help the right wing out by repeating their talking points, ever. Why was this so hard to grasp?

Why, indeed.