Because there are so many more knowledgeable and insightful political bloggers out there, I have resolved to steer away from political issues in this blog. Today, however, I was struck by the vote in the Senate to condemn MoveOn.Org for its full-page New York Times ad criticizing Gen. David Petraeus ("General Petraeus or General Betray Us?"). The Senate passed the resolution "to express the sense of the Senate that General David H. Petraeus, Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq, deserves the full support of the Senate and strongly condemn personal attacks on the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all members of the United States Armed Forces."
I was interested to note that Minnesota's Democratic Senator, Amy Klobuchar, voted in support of the resolution, breaking ranks with the majority of her party. As far as I could discover, she has not yet (as of 2:30 p.m.) issued a statement about her vote, but it's interesting to look at her vote in light of some of her previous statements on the war in Iraq. On 9/11, after Petraeus's testimony to Congress, she said that she had the "deepest respect" for the general, but disagreed with the course being followed in Iraq. Elsewhere, she has stated that one of her goals regarding the war in Iraq is to "ensure a civil national debate that makes America proud." She continues: "As we in Congress, as well as citizens across the country, continue to debate the best strategy in Iraq, we must remember that open discussion of diverse and divergent viewpoints is the foundation of our democratic system. Although we may disagree on tactics and strategies, in the end we all want what is best for our troops and best for our nation."
In the wake of the Senate vote, MoveOn has issued a statement saying that the purpose of the resolution was "to send a message that anyone who speaks unpleasant truths about this war will pay." In light of her statement quoted above, I somehow don't think that this is the message that Sen. Klobuchar intended to send. Could it be that Sen. Klobuchar believed the advertisement exceeded the bounds of civility? Was her vote in favor of the resolution a vote for Minnesota nice?
I believe the MoveOn ad was ill-advised, but it's absurd for the United States Senate to censure MoveOn for exercising its Constitutionally-protected right to free speech. The best that can be said for Sen. Klobuchar's vote is that the GOP can't use it against her. But the more principled response was that of Sen. Obama, who refused to dignify the resolution with a vote at all.
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