How To Disagree

I'm not one to pick a fight (you can stop laughing now), but I do have a bone to pick with Matt Stoller's critique of critiques of Move On's ill advised "BetrayUs" ad. Matt writes:

[This] tut-tut message from a liberal wonk, an email by Rachel Kleinfeld of the Truman Project that actually encourages progressive veterans to write to military journals and denounce Moveon (thank God wonks can't organize). . . . MORE

Dear Truman Members,

Those of you who saw the NYTimes today saw that MoveOn took out a full page ad equating Petraeus with "Betray Us" and accusing him of politicizing the military.

. . . YOU CAN HELP! Those of you who are bloggers can blog to push back against Move On's ad--whatever your view of Iraq and Petraeus' view, claiming that the ad does not reflect all progressive or Democrats' beliefs--and standing up for a depoliticized military from both sides of the aisle. If you are a veteran, help by writing into the military journal of your choice to share your experience that not all Democrats have such tin-ears. . . .

This seems eminently reasonable to me. Now I must disclose that I think Move On has been awful on Iraq all year as I have written before, but not for boneheaded ads, but for enabling the weak Dem leadership to cave in on funding the Iraq Debacle.

Matt does not like this critique of Move On, writing:

There are many ways to distance oneself from Moveon, and I don't mind it if some people have to do it to look respectable and say things like 'Moveon went over the top'. But the way these people do it, regardless of whether Moveon's ad was good or not, simply encourages risk-averse behavior.

Matt does not explain why this encourages risk averse behavior. I think it discourages boneheaded behavior such as Move On's. Truth be told, I think this is just another example of the "don't criticize my folks" behavior that we see exhibited throughout the Netroots.

Matt has no compunction in criticizing other Dems who do not see things his way (and neither do I.) Why should should these Dems hold back on criticizing Move On? I think we should all be willing and able to criticize each other when we believe something has been done worthy of criticism.

Now let's be clear, just because I think Move On did something really stupid does not mean I think they are bad folks, anymore than I think Jon Tester or Jim Webb were bad folks when I criticized them for voting for the Iraq Supplemental.

I think this approach is especially pernicious when we see folks enabling weak willed Dem leadership. Here is some criticism that I like, of Mike Tomasky's absurd defense of the Dem leadership on Iraq:

Leaving aside Tomasky's battered spouse enabling of Democrats in Congress for doing nothing to end the war despite the 2006 mandate . . . what is up with his aristocratic language? 'Ill-considered'? 'Distasteful'? Well I never! Did he get the vapors? Does he always rely on the kindness of strangers?

I wrote something similar about Harold Meyerson's defense of the Dem leadership on the Iraq Supplemental last March.

If you are wondering who wrote that critique of Tomasky I quote above, it was Matt Stoller, in the SAME post criticizing folks for critiquing Move On.

Irony is dead.

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    My rebuttal to Moveon.org criticism... (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by Michael Gass on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 09:52:15 PM EST
    Big Tent Democrat,

    I know I am new, I know that my "opinion" holds zero weight.

    I responded to the criticism here already.

    I agree that everyone has the right to criticize, whether it is Petreaus or those who believe he did, in fact, betray us (ie, the troops).  That is your right as an American.  However, in that same breath, it is the right of those who believe he did betray the troops to do as they did (ie, take out an ad and say so).

    The lovely thing about discourse is that two people with opposing opinions debate their side with facts, in context, and if nothing else, agree to disagree.

    What we cannot do in America is work to silence an opinion.  

    I personally agree, as a veteran, that Petreaus, and many Generals before him, have abandoned our troops... and in doing so... have betrayed their trust.

    What I would like to see is a General actually say "NO"... just once...

    Your opinion is as valuable as its merit (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 10:06:40 PM EST
    New or old means nothing.

    I do quarrel with the insinuation that I am suggesting removing Move On's right to say whatever it wants.

    I also defend Joe Lieberman's right to say whatever he wants yet I rip the tar out of him.


    I can respect that... (none / 0) (#15)
    by Michael Gass on Wed Sep 12, 2007 at 01:24:03 AM EST
    and I didn't mean to insinuate that you didn't... only that you recognize the right of others to have the opinion they do.

    I agree with Markos. (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by dkmich on Wed Sep 12, 2007 at 05:16:40 AM EST
    The vapors over the ad are just another distraction from what is really nasty and obscene - them and their war.  

    A liar is a liar (3.50 / 2) (#21)
    by Dadler on Wed Sep 12, 2007 at 10:15:07 AM EST
    Petraeus lied through his teeth presenting a propgandized and skewed view of the situation.  That he does not come out and admit that Baghdad has been ethnically cleansed, that Sunnis have been almost entirely driven out, that this is a large reason anyone can claim sectarian violence is "down", is a lie of the highest order.  A calculated, complete lie.

    Not respecting the American people enough to be honest and straight with them, choosing the power of one man over the will of the people, well, that's nothing but betrayal.  Now, whether the ad was productive is another matter, but calling out Petraues for his dishonesty was a must and was not done enough in those hearings.

    i love this! (2.50 / 2) (#7)
    by cpinva on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 10:02:29 PM EST
    the right-wing media doesn't have to do anything to shred liberals/progressives, we'll do it to ourselves for them. all they need do is stand back and enjoy the show.

    so, you think the moveon.org ad was "over the top"? too bad. i think ill-advised, pre-emptive, poorly planned wars, costing 1,000's of lives are "over the top". far more so than an ad. it only hurt someone's feelings, it didn't blow them apart.

    for that matter, if the gen. is all that distraught over it, he should be fired for that alone. however, i'll settle for firing him for being full of crap.

    I'm not one to pick a fight

    ok, i'm moving, before the bolt of lightning gets here! lol

    You don't like my poor opinion of Move On? (5.00 / 3) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 10:04:02 PM EST
    Too bad.

    I certainly won't shut up for you or Stoller or anybody.


    Thank God for that (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by NMvoiceofreason on Wed Sep 12, 2007 at 12:05:58 AM EST
    We need your wit and your wisdom.

    gee (none / 0) (#19)
    by cpinva on Wed Sep 12, 2007 at 08:13:59 AM EST
    i re-read my comments, i suggest you do the same. nowhere in them did i suggest you shut up, or anything close to it. perhaps you should stop being so insecure, that you read into everything a slam against you.

    i know this is going to come as a shock, but everything isn't all about you. it's about me. :)

    i enjoy reading your work. occassionally, you even seem to have a clue. you're certainly entitled to your opinion, and i'm certainly entitled to disagree with it. seems fair.

    you have a problem with that?


    Circular firing squad (none / 0) (#12)
    by NMvoiceofreason on Wed Sep 12, 2007 at 12:05:17 AM EST
    Yes, we must all assemble as good democrats in the traditional manner.

    Confused, sorry (none / 0) (#1)
    by andgarden on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 09:08:22 PM EST
    I'm confused. Are you saying that Stoller wrote the last block quote?

    Yes he did (none / 0) (#3)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 09:10:31 PM EST
    the one of Tomasky.

    I edited to remove confusion (none / 0) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 09:11:37 PM EST
    Got it now (none / 0) (#5)
    by andgarden on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 09:16:35 PM EST

    (Is irony still dead?) (none / 0) (#11)
    by oculus on Wed Sep 12, 2007 at 12:01:18 AM EST
    Due respect (none / 0) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Sep 11, 2007 at 10:07:32 PM EST
    It seems to me you stray far afield from the subject imo.

    Just Do IT (none / 0) (#14)
    by NMvoiceofreason on Wed Sep 12, 2007 at 12:12:38 AM EST
    If you have a better message, get it out there.

    If you don't, at least applaud the people who are doing something.

    There are three kinds of people in this situation:

    1. Those who do something

    2. Those who dont do anything, and let their fellow Americans die for a lie

    3. Those who wonder what happened

    If we leave it to the leaderSheep, we will still be in this war in 2009. (That's categories 2 and 3 by the way)

    It was childish and a waste of money (none / 0) (#16)
    by shpilk on Wed Sep 12, 2007 at 01:27:50 AM EST
    And I may get trashed for saying it, but it's not the first time Move On has shown their organization to be really unprofessional. They aren't doing progressives any favors with this. Their are inconsistent with their policy positions, and while I supported them many years ago, I stopped after being yanked 38 ways to Sunday.

    From standpoint of practicality, Move On made themselves the story, when they should have been concentrating on getting the word out about the contradictions of Petraeus and the Bush administration, and challenging the very concept that 'Al-Qaeda terror' is the reason to stay in Iraq to begin with.

    Waste of money. I would have been really pissed off if money I gave went to that asinine ad.

    It's one thing when a blogger like yours truly uses cute names and 'colorful metaphors'. It's another when a national organization that is supposed to stand for principles does it.

    Yes, it's a free country. If Move On wants to wallow in the same type of crappy rhetoric as Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, let them start a radio show, or post swill like that on a blog.

    They should be ashamed of themselves.

    I didn't like the ad (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by kovie on Wed Sep 12, 2007 at 04:46:37 AM EST
    and thought that it was stupid and counterproductive, but I think that in a day or two most people will forget it. It's not going to have much of an effect one way or another. (Although, every time I hear the name Petraeus now, I think "Betray-us", in Pavlovian manner, so maybe it will have some residual subliminal effect).

    This was also stupid because it attacked the messenger, not the message, something that we on the left have repeatedly condemned the far right for. And the messenger in this case is a 4-star war hero with a stellar public reputation who has been praised by both Dems and Repubs. Yeah, attacking him will play really well with the public. Why don't we start kicking puppies and burning flags to complete that "win the center" PR campaign?

    The war cannot be "won". The surge has been strategically meaningless. Iraq is in flames and coming apart, and there is nothing that we can militarily do to stop or fix that. Petreaus knows that, even if he'll never say or even hint at it (or else he know that he'll get the Pace and Shinseki treatment). Instead of attacking him personally, the right approach is to specifically question our overall strategy in Iraq in a way that minimizes the ultimate utility of any successes that the surge has had, and seriously challenges the notion that this war can be won.

    Sometimes it feels like we're being asked to support a program to develop space ships to reach the next galaxy over, and no one has the guts and brains to yell out "HUH? What on EARTH are you smoking, dude?!?".


    Press MoveOn to mount Get Out of Iraq campaign (none / 0) (#20)
    by MSS on Wed Sep 12, 2007 at 10:06:58 AM EST
    So MoveOn's ad created backlash (and press reports). Let's do it like the Repubs do: Don't appologize. But get MoveOn to organize us to get our Democrats in Congress to stand up to pull us out of Iraq. Don't like how they did that ad? Then push for another, stronger one! Mount a campaign to get candidates to declare a date to get us out. Tell Democrats this is NOT the time to look for compromise! It is time to be the LEADERS in asking for Immediate Withdrawl. Republicans and right-wingers will say that is a losing proposition. But they are wrong. Most Americans will sign on to a strong exit strategy. Let's promote Get Out of Iraq, a practical manual on a 6-month withdrawl plan from Iraq. Former Sen. George McGovern and William R. Polk, a leading authority on the Middle East, offer a detailed plan for a speedy troop withdrawal from Iraq.