Last week some boob blogger I’d never heard of reposted some e-mail I posted without comment three years ago about Wesley Clark. It generated some e-pestering, mostly from readers who couldn’t understand the distinction between my words and one of the thousands of e-mails I’ve posted “uncritically” over the years. Anyway, the folks at Think Progress have picked it up as if it’s some kind of grand gotchya. You see, I’d said that Richard Cohen had a good column about Hillary not condemning the Petraeus ad, even though in 2004 I’d posted an email critical of generals. What hackery on my part!
Yawn. Well a few points: First, posting an e-mail isn’t an endorsement in the blogosphere. Second, there is a remarkable difference between criticizing a commander in the field during a war as vaguely treasonous or un-American, and questioning the credentials of a civilian running to be president of the United States. This is a distinction cleverly ignored by Hillary Clinton who has refused to condemn the MoveOn.org ad explicitly while at the same time condemning all attacks on people who’ve served — i.e. John Kerry and Max Cleland. I hardly give Hillary the benefit of the doubt on such things since she’s been perfectly willing to practice “the politics of personal destruction” when it suits her purposes. But it’s worth noting that even if you do give her the benefit of the doubt, this argument is designed to sidestep the issue of what MoveOn.org actually did. Whether it was right or wrong to ask questions about Kerry’s service in Vietnam or whether the claims made about the attacks on Cleland do or don’t have merit, attacking the troops in the field is very different than scrutinizing civilian political leaders trying to use their war records (real or alleged) as a cloak of authority.
Oh, and let’s remember that whenever conservatives criticized Clark or Kerry it was precisely the sorts of people who read ThinkProgress who cried “chickenhawk” and “you have no right to judge!” But now, when an active duty commander in the field is trying to win a war we’re fighting right now, the same people are perfectly comfortable judging him, indeed they’re perfectly comfortable calling him a betrayer. There’s the real hypocrisy.