For those of you who aren’t in tune with the goings on in Washington, DC, there has been a lot of hubbub in the news recently. Not of the war in Iraq, or of the appropriations process–which has been stalled and leaves the American people without a 2008 budget–but rather of a controversial advertisement run by the New York Times.
Recently, MoveOn.org came out with an ad labeling U.S. General David Petraeus as a conniving Bushie who isn’t serving America as a respected general. In a world that already views the New York Times as the flagship source of media bias, how did this love affair between a liberal anti-war group and an alleged liberal newspaper come to be, and where did it go wrong?
No one contests MoveOn.org’s constitutional right to free speech. However, reports show the New York Times had changed their own policy to allow this ad, a policy which specifically says: “we do not accept opinion advertisements that are attacks of a personal nature.” The Times is now being accused even more of being biased to the left by conservative tycoons such as Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh because of its subsidizing of the MoveOn.org ad. The Times is disputing this mistake by claiming that an advertising sales representative had made a mistake in granting the discount and that Move On should have been charged $142,083 as opposed to the $77,508 that Move On claims they paid for the ad. Because of this "mistake" the Times is denying any allegations of "bias."
And then, as with any love affair in came a third party: Congress got involved. The House and the Senate have both voted on resolutions condemning MoveOn.org’s actions. In the House, it was voted on as an amendment attached to an appropriations bill, it passed with 347 votes, with 79 votes against. Seventy-nine votes? Where’d those come from? But of course, the liberals of the bunch — Barney Frank (D-MA), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-MA) and a slue of others from the typically liberal areas — the Northeast and the West Coast. Whose name doesn’t show up? Why Speaker Pelosi of course, however it is typical for the Speaker of the House to not vote. Majority Leader Hoyer did however come out against Move On. The Democratic House leadership seemed relatively divided on the issue, while the Republican party remained united in their opposition to Move On.
The Senate’s resolution passed with 72 votes in favor and 25 against. However, both Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) voted against the resolution. Guess those presidential campaigns are protecting their base where as Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) and Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) were both absent for the vote with Senator Obama positioning his absence as taking the high road and not commenting on an issue that is not worthy of Senate comment. Most of the presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle denounced the Move-on ads but Senator Clinton never came outright to denounce it but rather kept her denouncement of the ad ambiguous in an interview with Tim Russert on "Meet the Press" by saying "I don’t condone anything like that, and I have voted against those who would impugn the patriotism and the service of the people who wear the uniform of our country. I don’t believe that that should be said about General Petraeus, and I condemn that." However, thanks this is another instance of having it both ways, condemning something on Meet the Press and taking the opposite approach when voting in the Senate.
What does this all amount to? A menial controversy created by a media giant and an already controversial anti-war group avoiding the important matters at hand such as creating an effective solution to the war in Iraq, approving another Attorney General and passing the 2008 fiscal budget. So it goes, another nonbinding resolution passed by Congress, another week in Washington with the people’s business left undone.