The MoveOn ad affair is still plodding forward with the President’s comments this morning calling the ad “disgusting”, and now the Senate weighing in with a resolution condemning MoveOn for exercising its free speech rights. The bill’s author, Sen. John Cornyn, made explicitly anti-speech language in his statement supporting the bill.
Before anyone has an opportunity to get distracted, this is not about the war in Iraq; it is not about respect for the military; it is not about terrorism; it is certainly not about patriotism. It is about Free Speech and nothing else (well, maybe a little hypocrisy). It is about the United States Senate deciding that it can penalize private citizens and groups for expressing their opinions.
Despite the chilling effect legislation like this has on lawful dissent, the Senate overwhelmingly passed Cornyn’s bill by a vote of 72-25. That majority means that a lot of Democrats caved in to the “shut up and pretend to support the military” crowd. It means that they believe that it’s acceptable for the government to crush dissent.
And while they are trashing our Constitutional liberties, they don’t even feel compelled to maintain a semblance of consistency. As evidence of the hypocrisy of the Senate censors, Sen. Barbara Boxer offered a companion bill that condemned political attacks on any military figure. Boxer’s alternative included patriots like Max Cleland and John Kerry, in addition to General Petraeus. The Boxer bill failed 51-46 (short of the 60 votes needed for passage), with all but three Republicans voting against it.
It’s bad enough that so many Democrats voted to censure MoveOn rather than exhibit some backbone by standing up for the Constitution as well as their constituents, but it’s far worse that Republicans, it seems, are only interested in defending the honor of the military when those criticized are right-wing sycophants. Decorated veterans who serve their country are apparently unworthy of respect if they don’t swallow Republican dogma and obey their masters in the White House.
I really don’t understand how the public can tolerate Republican senators who will vote to condemn attacks on one general, then turn around and vote against condemning such attacks on all military figures. This should serve as a lesson to the Democratic leadership in Congress that Republicans are not the least bit interested in bipartisanship or compromise. Democratic leader Harry Reid needs to absorb this lesson and begin to take a more aggressive stance in asserting the majority role in which he serves. When is he going to get tired of wiping the footprints off his damn forehead? And the rest of the Democratic caucus might want to start to take more seriously their obligation to protect free speech, as opposed to making vacant gestures that feign patriotism. Their record of abandoning Constitutional principles is disgraceful – from Habeas Corpus, to warrantless wiretapping, to relinquishing their jurisdiction on issues of national defense, to impeachment. When will they learn what their role is as members of an equal branch of government?
Update: MoveOn is fighting back with a petition drive that will be delivered to Congress:
“The U.S. Senate just told you to sit down and be quiet. They passed a resolution condemning MoveOn.org and it has one purpose: to intimidate all of us who care about responsibly ending this war.”
Sign the petition and join MoveOn. What better time to show support for free speech and a valiant organization that is fighting for it.