Bush was using a familiar right-wing tactic: identifying himself with a military uniform and the stature of the military in general, when he had no military stature himself. Rudy Giuliani used the same tactic in his ad in Friday’s New York Times: he put on military drag by associating himself with Petraeus’ rank and role, hoping some of the stature of the military would rub off on him. The implicit message is an attack on MoveOn: in pointing out Petraeus’ deception, MoveOn, so Giuliani implies, was being disrespectful of the military itself. This is a typical right-wing attack on progressives, and progressives shouldn’t stand for it.
In a country that takes its freedoms seriously, freedom of speech must be maintained. Betrayal through deception is much worse than being impolite. Where tens of thousands of deaths and maimings are concerned, it is immoral not to point out betrayals when they are real. It is patriotic to root out betrayal on grand scale wherever it occurs.
The American people have been betrayed by the architects and apologists for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. By avoiding the politeness trap in a patriotic, direct, and factual way, MoveOn correctly framed the betrayal of trust for what it is. And right now, the apologists for the occupation seem to be forgetting a lesson we thought Frank Luntz had schooled them on. They are quite busy invoking the frame of betrayal of trust, a frame that clearly best fits them. That frame is essential to bringing an end to the tragedy in Iraq.
It’s a great ad. And it’s time for the era of “distraction by bright shiny objects” to end.