story.jpgWhen the MoveOn controversy first broke and the Republicans were wallowing in mock outrage, Hillary Clinton was the only one of the top-tier 08 Presidentials who didn’t fall for the patented flim-flam, didn’t walk into their trap and play along with plans to distract from the subject of Iraq and at the same time fragment the Democratic party and dis-empower the base.

While Edwards and Obama could not hit their knees fast enough and genuflect before all that Republican bluster, I assumed it was because Hillary had been down that road before, and knew from experience that there was no way to appease the wingnut in high dudgeon. You can grovel and beg and all it will earn you is the opportunity to do more groveling and begging, and it doesn’t make you look either strong or qualified for leadership.

Quite predictably, once the Republicans had bullied the Democrats into denouncing their own (and yes, ladies and gentlemen, with over 3 million members MoveOn is your own, like it or not) they began the process of trying to make the “Democrat” party the party of MoveOn. George Bush did it himself, laying a trail of bread crumbs even the Snickers obsessed and the fashion challenged could follow.

Then Rudy began his jihad, saying that Clinton was “attacking” Petraeus by not denouncing MoveOn. Thanks to the sheer naivete of all the Democrats who have not yet internalized the notion that you just don’t repeat Republican talking points and reinforce a larger narrative that will only be used against you and your party at large, no matter what, Clinton became low hanging fruit.

And yesterday, in a really disappointing moment, she caved:

“I think it’s important that we end these kinds of attacks on the patriotism of those who serve our country,” Clinton said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program. “This is not a debate about an ad. This is a debate about the direction we should pursue in Iraq.”

The McCarthy-esque language of Barbara Boxer’s amendment seems to have calcified into conventional wisdom within the party. Just tell everybody to shut up and you can appear “above” partisanship.

The Senators who condemned MoveOn do not seem to realize that it’s their job to protect free speech, not tell people how and when to exercise it.

The only one who got it right was Russ Feingold, who voted “no” on both the Boxer and Cornyn amendments. Everyone else? “F’s” all around.

They need to stay after class and read the Constitution.