General ‘Betray-Us’ vs. ‘Max Cleland bin Laden’

By Nitya

Sep 20, 2007 12:20pm

ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf reports: The Senate’s about a week late on the whole "General Betray-Us" kerfuffle but today passed an amendment sponsored by Texas Republican John Cornyn condemning the MoveOn.org ad.

The ad remains a talking point for Republicans. At his press conference today, President Bush accused Democrats of being more afraid of offending Moveon.org than of offending the troops.

Democrats, for their part, attempted to fight back (if a little bit late) but were unsuccessful.

Sen. Barbara Boxer’s, D-CA, offered her own amendment, it too condemning the Moveon.org ad, but including language to condemn other ads run against the patriotism of Democrats in recent political campaigns. Specifically, it points to the ad run by allies of current Sen. Saxby Chambliss in his successful bid to unseat then-Sen. Max Cleland, a triple amputee and Vietnam vet.

In the wake of Sept. 11th, 2001, the ad placed a picture of Cleland alongside Osama bin Laden.

The Boxer amendment also condemns the Swift boat Veterans for Truth in 2004. In her remarks on the Senate floor, Boxer also mentioned Republican criticism of retired Generals Zinni and Batiste, who have been critical of President Bush.

Cornyn said the ads and ad campaigns Boxer illustrated are different because they occur in the course of political campaigns.

"There is a difference between those of us who run for public office and hold public office," argued Cornyn. "There is a difference in kind for Moveon.org to make personal attacks against a four star general commanding 170,000… There is a difference between being public figures by choice or public figures by duty."

Neither of these amendments is binding.

Though it got a majority of the votes, senators rejected the Boxer amendment to deplore all ads impugning a veteran’s patriotism (Petraeus, Kerry and Cleland). 51-46. It needed 60 votes to pass as part of the agreement by which they voted on it.

The Cornyn amendment deploring the Moveon.org ad specifically, passed 72-25.

Majority Leader Harry Reid tried again to dismiss the whole matter, which he said is distracting Senators from the more important matter of war poilcy.

"We want to talk about the war. they want to alk about an ad in a newspaper," Reid said.

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