Saturday, September 22, 2007

Hard Lessons from MoveOn Fiasco

By Robert Parry
September 22, 2007

The furor over’s silly “General Betray Us” ad – which led to a bipartisan Senate condemnation of MoveOn after Republicans blocked a move to include right-wing smears against military veterans like Democrats Max Cleland and John Kerry – carries a bitter lesson for the American Left.

Simply put: This is what happens when one side of American politics – the Right – spends three decades and many billions of dollars building a sophisticated and powerful media apparatus and the other side – the Left – does next to nothing on meda infrastructure.

Read on.


sage1 said...

I do not think that the ad in the NYT was a fiasco. I am a member of and am quite pleased at what we are doing. We intend to put fires under the democrats butts. They are spineless and weak. Who in the hell cares abot the whining of the fascist pigs of the GOP and the idiotic media.

Brother Billy said...

If the intention was to put fires under the democratic butts, it didn't work.

Personally, I liked the ad, despite my feeling that punning isn't the strongest rhetorical technique to use in an attack campaign. And counter-attacks generally help spread the message of a campaign like this, but only if the campaign has enough fire-power to keep getting its message out and reinforcing its own way of framing the issue. At this point, MoveOn and its friends doesn't seem to have quite enough resources to keep it going and to offset the other side's spin.

I think the moral of the story is that if you want to make a truthful but stylistically aggressive and 'outrageous' attack, you need to be able to sink the Swift Boaters who come swarming after you. It looks to me like we can't yet come close to handling the Republican attack machine.

I still think there's a lot that could be accomplished by the Democrats and their candidates by using the "Betrayal" theme. But they don't seem to have the nerve for it.

Michael Collins said...

I agree that this was an "unforced error." But having made the initial mistake, the error bigger error was in the timidity of MoveOn's response. Here's the way they should have responded, from the Dudehisattva Blog, satire with an embedded attitude.
Blog Link


" New York, NY (Rotters)- In a vote of 3,100,000 to 100,000 yesterday, the members of a massive nationwide progressive political action group voted overwhelmingly to place a second ad in the New York Times this weekend condemning the U.S. Congress for wasting time condemning them over their previous ad condemning General David Petraeus as "General Betray us". The ad implies that both houses of Congress, in particular the leadership, are "Ass-kissing little chickenshits", a term which has been used to refer to General Petraeus by his superiors in the past."
The opinion polls are propping up Bush, who is probably in high teens for approval at most. Here's a test. Just go ask your most Republican friends what they think of Bush and this war.

Better yet, go somewhere very Republican like I did for 10 days, North Georgia, Zel Miller country. I spoke to traditional Republicans in friendly social settings, didn't initiate a thing, and found out that the folks I was with were adamantly critical of Bush and the war. They don't like Congress at all, and if Zel had popped in, his reception would have been very frosty.

Time to fight back, every single time.

(PS. Could you please add the alternative blogger log on that allows a mail box plus web page URL for those of us who don't use Google mail.)

Gary said...

Nearly all of MoveOn's over three million members hope they have more fiascos like this. They have been flooded with emails and donations of support - two million dollars in the last few days. The failure was of the Democratic Senate leadership in not manuevering to block passage of the resolution.

sagacityX said...

MoveOn "Fiasco"! Is it really a fiasco?
I am rather disappointed or even dismayed to see you joining the rightwing attack dogs against MoveOn for playing on the general's name. But compare this to the rightwingers' Swift-boating or Rovian tricks. It is precisely because the "Left" is trying to stick to gentlemanly rule of discourse that the Right has risen.

Everything is relative. I hope you will retract your stance and join MoveOn in castigating the general for betraying not only "us" the people but the troops, apparently, looking at the examples before him, to keep his job and pave the way to earn another star before he retires.

Following decent rule books may gain you good-behavior points but no political mileage.

Dan Clore said...

I find George Lakoff's analysis of events more convincing. (It's also noteworthy that the pun was earlier used by Rush Limbaugh.)

But as to calling soldiers traitors, how about the September 15 demonstrations? Iraq Veterans Against the War took the lead organizing the anti-war protest, and other groups that took part include Veterans for Peace and Appeal for Redress (active-duty military against the war). As the anti-war protestors outnumbered the counter-protestors by as much as a hundred to one, soldiers in the anti-war protest surely outnumbered the entire counter-demonstration.

Counter-protestors stood on the sidelines with signs and shouts calling them "traitors", "commies", "hippies", "moonbats", and the like.

twbor said...

"Simply put: This is what happens when one side of American politics – the Right – spends three decades and many billions of dollars building a sophisticated and powerful media apparatus and the other side – the Left – does next to nothing on media infrastructure."

What crack pipe have you been smoking? Outside of talk radio and ONE cable news network, there is NO conservative or right leaning media in this country. The public media in this country is more Left leaning than the average U.S. citizen. From the New York Times to NBC, the left has willing accomplices to do all their bidding.

I for one would like to know what media apparatus you are referring to in this comment. Are you talking about Fox News or Talk Radio?

The media in this country has actively supported and promoted the ideas of the left. The evidence is their blind obedience to the talking points put forth by most organizations, like The problem with this latest ad is that went too far for the general public. So their supporters in the press could not let it slide without being found out by the general populace as supporters of the left.

I like reading your comments, because I find it’s always good to know what both sides of an argument are before taking a step out into the public debate. For the most part your arguments may not hit with my point of view, but they are not so far out there that I have to cringe. Your comment I have quoted above is beyond the ridiculous. Do some real research and comment from a base of truth.

Plus 15 said...

The Moveon Ad was just fine. No Democratic Party spokesperson ever goes after the GOP for more then an instantaneous sound bite. Finally someone raised their voice after waiting for years for party functionaries and leaders to do their expected job. The American people want to see more of this. That is why Congressional Poll numbers are lower then Bush's Poll numbers, particularly among Democrats. With the limited media available to Democrats, because of the right wing control of and/or fear of in the newsrooms and publications in this country, the Democrats and Progressives must use the opportunities that they get and glaringly get the nations attention or all of this will remain a secret of choir and the converted.