Friday, September 21, 2007
By Steven L. Taylor

I have largely avoided commenting on the “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?” ad because, well, as noted yesterday, I believe that my outrage-o-meter is busted.

Now, Michael Kinsley, writing for Time (How Dare You) so perfectly captures the essence of the situation, I am compelled to take public notice.

Several things sprang to mind when the ad first materialized. First was that we are talking about, and therefore there should have been no surprise from anyone about the fact that they were engaging in attention-getting, inflammatory rhetoric. Indeed, for those offended by or opposed to the ad, the grandest irony of all is that their apoplexy has made that ad buy far, far more valuable than it would have been had they just yawned and moved on (if you will forgive the turn of phrase). Second, since when is being a General a “get out of criticism free” card? Last time I checked, citizens of the US have free speech and all of that, and if someone wants to make silly rhymes in the newspaper, so what? Third, and more to the point, Petraeus is a big boy in a profession wherein getting shot at is part of the job description. I simply figure that he can handle a little playgroundesque mudslinging. Further, the man has a Ph.D. in International Relations from Princeton, so I am guessing he understands politics fairly well (not to mention that no one rises to the rank of General without exposure to the rough and tumble of the political world).

When it comes down to the ad itself, Kinsley pretty much sums up my views:

You could argue that since the verb betray and the noun traitor have the same root, the ad is accusing the head of American forces in Iraq of treason. The ad can also be interpreted — more plausibly if you consider the rest of the text — merely as questioning the general’s honesty, not his patriotism.

And beyond that,

But whatever your interpretation of the ad, all the gasping for air and waving of scented handkerchiefs among the war’s most enthusiastic supporters is pretty comical.

Indeed, and further:

All this drawing of uncrossable lines and issuing of fatuous fatwas is supposed to be a bad habit of the left. When right-wingers are attacking this habit rather than practicing it, they call it political correctness. The problem with political correctness is that it turns discussions of substance into arguments over etiquette. The last thing that supporters of the war want to talk about at this point is the war. They’d far rather talk about this insult to General Petraeus. It just isn’t done in polite society, it seems, to criticize a general in the middle of a war. (Although, when else?)

Double indeed.

And somehow this whole thing has risen to the level of requiring a Senate Resolution condemning the ad.

Isn’t it rather unseemly for a democratic institution taking the time out its busy schedule to condemn a group of citizens who expressed a political opinion?

Talk about sound and fury signifying nothing…

I will repeat: all of the outrage over the ad has made the ad more well known and has radically amplified the impact of the ad buy itself.

Beyond that, it just seems we have a lot more rather important issues to be dealing with than whether an interest group said something mean about David Petraeus.

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6 Responses to “Kinsley on “Betray Us” (or More Evidence of my Outrage Deficiency)”

  1. The World Around You » Blog Archive » Amen, Amen and Amen Says:

    [...] PoliBlog ™: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » Kinsely on “Betray Us” (or More Evidence of my Outrage Deficiency) Posted National Politics, Iraq War on Friday, September 21st, 2007. [...]

  2. Max Lybbert Says:

    Yes, but by condemning the ad in a resolution, Congressional Democrats don’t have to follow up by returning any checks or anything. The Democrats wanted this resolution as much as any of the Republicans.

  3. Pirate’s Cove » >>Americans Never Quit » TB Friday Featuring The Surrender Monkey: Time Says No Complaining Says:

    [...] Dr. Steven Taylor refers to the story by Kingsley as "More evidence of my outrage deficiency" [...]

  4. Pros and Cons » Thoughts on why Congress, as an institution is unfit to wield executive power Says:

    [...] Our own Sean Farrell raised these thoughts to my frontal lobes with this latest example showing why Congress is not fit to run the Attorney General’s office. (Not least because the attorney firing “scandal” has shown the only improper political meddling to date to have come from Congress, though sadly one from the President’s own, and my, party.) Even Poliblogger, legislative supremacist that he is, agrees with Mr. Farrell that Congress, or the Republicans in it plus pundits, is and are obsessing about nonsense. [...]

  5. A. Cunningham Says:

    No matter whether you are offended or approve of’s add, the simple truth as I see it, is that I served in the military and went to the middle east to defend freedom, including freedom of speech. That includes political speech that runs counter to one’s personal opionion. In my humble view, it is Bush who is “Disgusting” for trying to block people from expressing their view. These folks have the same rights as anyone else under our Constitution. While that might be annoying to some, it is one of the foundations of a free society.

  6. PoliBlog ™: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » “Phony Soldiers” and Limbaugh’s Dichotomized World Says:

    [...] I have noted before that I am not prone to a lot of outrage, and I am not outraged by statements by Rush Limbaugh that service members who support U.S. withdrawal are “phony soldiers”, but I do think that it takes an awful lot of gall to make such statements after the over-the-top reaction to the “Petraeus or Betray Us?” ad, as I thought it was supposedly verboten to call into question the integrity of our men and women in combat. Indeed, if had called some of our soldiers in harm’s way “phony” one guesses that the same group who got up in arms over the Petraeus ad would be up in arms over this. (Not so much, it would seem). [...]

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